"Comedy is looking at life from a humorous perspective whereas life itself is a tragedy."
Oliver Samuels is considered a comedic actor though he hardly plays the lead role in a comedic film. His film appearances include Roughneck, Glory to Glorianna, The Mighty Quin, and Country Man. His screen appearances also span way beyond his Oliver and Oliver At Large series from the late 1980s and 1990s. Other TV comic appearances include Brothers and Sisters, Almost Heaven, and Comeback.
Samuels' first overseas exposure was his 1975 appearance in the British Broadcasting Corporation's television series, The Fight Against Slavery. That was followed ten years later by My Father Son Son Johnson, Chief, and Brothers And Sisters.
Watching Samuels performing in his first pantomime, “Music Boy”, was the television commercial scout, David Odgen. Odgen hired him to do a famous Guinness ad in which Samuels painted himself into a corner.
After walking out of the theatre "to prove a point”, Samuels did not expect to be offered another pantomime. He went on to do 11 pantomimes. By the end of that period, he had become a household name in Jamaica. He was popularly referred to as Mr. Pantomime.
Performances in the Little Theatre Movement Pantomime
|Year of Performances||Name of Pantomime||Name of Character played|
1971 - 72
1972 - 73
1973 - 74
1974 - 75
Dickance for Fippance
1975 - 76
Headman and Kalambe
1978 - 79
Mr. Nuffus and Baldhead
1979 - 80
The Hon. All Purpus and the Dancing Princess
Hon. All Purpus
1981 - 82
The Pirate Princess
1983 - 84
1984 - 85
1985 - 86
From the Centerstage Center in New Kingston, Jambiz International (a theatre company based in Jamaica) has churned out, Christmas after Christmas, the most memorable productions and scores of laughter. Samuels is still a permanent member of the company and still plays the comic role in its annual productions.
Samuels landed a role in The Mighty Quinn, the full-length movie that was shot in Jamaica starring Denzel Washington. That was followed by the Jamaican film Countryman, in which Leonnie Forbes starred.
Samuels' next big television outing was a part in Lennie Little-White's soap opera, Royal Palm Estate aired on one of Jamaica's local television stations, CVM-TV. He has also appeared in one Italian, and two German films.
See the critique on the play "Assistant Thief" directed by Trevor Nairne. Starring Oliver Samuels, Glen Campbell, and Camille Davis.
Oliver Samuels in Ras Noah and the Hawk (2005)
Award and Honors Received
When asked by Paul Osbourne how he managed to be on top, Oliver Samuels' answer was, "Consistency. I always have to be consistent. And I do not move away from my people. Success does not mean anything to me. The people are the key to my success". In turn, the Jamaican people are very proud of Samuels' success. He was awarded the Order of Distinction (OD) by the Jamaican government for his work as an ambassador to his country.
He was also awarded the Prime Minister's Award of Excellence in the Performing Arts 2004
For his performance in Trevor Rhone's "Schools Out" Samuels won the Jamaican Cultural Development Commission's Best Actor Award.
On Wednesday, November 9, 2005, Jamaicans in the United Kingdom turned out in their numbers to honor Samuels and to celebrate his 35th year in entertainment. The throng at the High Commission included Samuels' family, friends, and colleagues in the industry. They praised the comedian’s enviable body of work of more than three decades.
Oliver and Mack D's Auto Sales
Demand for Samuels was not only on television or in the Theatre. His son, Delroy Samuels was working with a small auto sales outlet called Mack D's Auto Sales and Rentals, owned by Samuels McDaniel and his wife. One day Delroy introduced his father to the couple and they hit it off immediately.
A good friendship developed among the three. One day McDaniel told Samuels that he wanted to expand the business and was thinking of doing a TV commercial. The two came up with a series of ads with the now famous tag line "Mack D's gone crazy, Mack D's gone mad".
The business grew and is today the largest auto sales company in the English-Speaking Caribbean with its head offices in St Andrew, Jamaica.
Samuels managed the opening ceremony for the new offices, but was shocked when the McDaniels offered him the job as marketing and public relations manager, a post that has sent him back to school to do a business course. He is also a director in the company.
Samuels must share time between his job at Mack D's and his job in the theatre. These days he mounts the stage under the auspices of Jambiz International, with the incredible writings of Patrick Brown, a civil engineer by training.
More on Samuels
After meeting this living legend in high school, I could not resist doing a series of hubs on him. Series, because all the information would be too much for only one hub. Our Theatre Arts class had gone to see one of Jambiz Production's annual productions and had the opportunity to interview Oliver Samuels and Glen Campbell. Unfortunately, I have misplaced my copy of the recording of the interview.
♣ Oliver Samuels: Life Beyond the Stage (Early Life, Theatre Education, and Training)
♣ Oliver Samuels: Theatre Involvement and Experience
♣Oliver Samuels: Works and Performances
♣ Interview with Oliver Samuels (coming soon)
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 15, 2012:
Can't get enough of Oliver. Thanks for the video--and the information on his performances. Voted Up.