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General information  

  • Real name : Benjamin Augustus Middleton
  • Place of birth : Laurinburg
  • Date of birth : 10/10/1946

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  • Vereen Ben

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Ben Vereen (1946)

Benjamin Augustus Middleton

Type :  

  Summary  

Ben Vereen is an American actor, dancer, and singer who has appeared in numerous Broadway theatre shows. Vereen graduated from Manhattan's High School of Performing Arts.

  Biography  

 early years
Vereen was born Benjamin Augustus Middleton on October 10, 1946, in Miami, Florida. While still an infant, Vereen and his family relocated to the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. He discovered he was adopted when he applied for a passport to join Sammy Davis, Jr. on a tour of "Golden Boy" to London when he was 25. He was adopted by James Vereen, a paint-factory worker and his wife, Pauline, who worked as a maid.

During his pre-teen years, he exhibited an innate talent for drama and dance and often performed in local variety shows. At the age of 14, Vereen enrolled at the High School of Performing Arts, where he studied under world-renowned choreographers Martha Graham, George Balanchine, and Jerome Robbins. Upon his graduation, he struggled to find suitable stage work and was often forced to take odd jobs to supplement his income.
He was 18 years old when he made his New York stage bow off-off Broadway in "The Prodigal Son" at the Greenwich Mews Theater. By the following year, he was in Las Vegas, performing in Bob Fosse's production of "Sweet Charity", a show with which he toured in 1967–68. He returned to New York City to play Claude in "Hair" in the Broadway production, before joining the national touring company.

The following year, he was cast opposite Davis in the film adaptation of "Sweet Charity". After developing a rapport with Davis, Vereen was cast as his understudy in the upcoming production of "Golden Boy", which toured England and ended the run at the Palladium Theatre in London's West End.

 stage
He was nominated for a Tony Award for Jesus Christ Superstar in 1972 and won a Tony for his appearance in Pippin in 1973. Vereen appeared in the Broadway musical Wicked as the Wizard of Oz in 2005. Vereen has also performed in one-man shows and actively lectures on black history and inspirational topics.

 television work
  • Ben Vereen... Comin' at Ya (summer replacement series - only 4 episodes produced)
  • Louis Armstrong - Chicago Style
  • The Muppet Show
  • Roots
  • The Carol Burnett Show
  • The Sentry Collection Presents Ben Vereen: His Roots
  • Tenspeed and Brown Shoe
  • Pippin: His Life and Times
  • Charmkins
  • The Jesse Owens Story
  • Ellis Island
  • Webster (cast member from 1984–1985)
  • A.D.
  • The Magic of David Copperfield VIII: Walking Through the Great Wall of China
  • Lost in London roots
  • ''Faerie Tale Theatre Puss in Boots
  • Zoobilee Zoo (1986–1987)
  • You Write the Songs (1986–1987)
  • Jenny's Song
  • J.J. Starbuck
  • The Kid Who Loved Christmas
  • Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme
  • Silk Stalkings (cast member from 1991–1993)
  • Intruders
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Interface"
  • Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: "Papa's Got a Brand New Excuse"
  • The Nanny: "Pinske Business"
  • Portraits of Courage (1996–1997)
  • Promised Land
  • The Feast of All Saints
  • Grey's Anatomy
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent: "Senseless"
  • "Your Mama Don't Dance"
  • How I Met Your Mother: "Cleaning House" and "False Positive"

 personal life
Vereen has appeared as a public speaker and humanitarian speaking on such topics as Black history, overcoming adversity, and the importance of continuing education.

In 2007 he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and has a website in which he shares his personal story along with advice from medical experts.

According to the Fayetteville Observer of April 29, 2006, Vereen learned while applying for a passport in the late 1960s that he was adopted. His birth certificate revealed that his birth name was Benjamin Augustus Middleton, that he was the son of Essie Middleton, and that he was born in Laurinburg, NC. In April 2006, Vereen visited Laurinburg with a genealogist and learned that his mother's name was Essie May Pearson, who had died 24 years before. According to her acquaintances, Essie had gone on a trip when Ben was a child, and had left her baby in someone's care. When she returned, the child was gone. In May 2006, he met his mother's daughter, his sister, Gloria Walker, of New Haven, Connecticut. He also has a brother, James Middleton, who lives in Tucson, Arizona. The Laurinburg Exchange reported: "Vereen, an adoptee who learned that he was born in Laurinburg and made a celebrated trip to Scotland County in 2006 to reconnect with family...In April 2006, Vereen visited Scotland County with a genealogist on a search for family members. While on the trip he learned his mother had died 24 years before, but that several relatives still lived in the area. In an April 28, 2006 interview with the Laurinburg Exchange, Vereen said that the visit 'has just all been so overwhelming ... I've finally found my family.' "

His 16-year-old daughter, Naja, was killed in an auto accident in 1987, on the New Jersey Turnpike when a truck overturned on her car.

In 1992, Vereen was the victim of a life-threatening automobile accident when he was struck by a car, driven by songwriter David Foster, while walking along a Malibu highway. His critical injuries required him to undergo arduous physical rehabilitation in the ensuing months. ,

Vereen is the godfather of R&B superstar Usher and is also the uncle of New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen. Vereen was the keynote speaker for the Boys & Girls Clubs in St. Petersburg, Florida annual alumni tribute gala held in October 2007.

In August 2011, Ben Vereen was named Co-Artistic Director of Tampa's Broadway Theatre Project.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Ben Vereen", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.