Melvin Van Peebles Timeline

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Melvin Van Peebles Montage

1932Born on the South Side of Chicago, the son of a tailor.
1953Attends Ohio Wesleyan University on combined art and ROTC scholarship; graduates with a major in English.
1953Commissioned officer in Air Force; serves as a navigator and bombardier on B-47s in Strategic Air Command.
1955 Travels through Mexico working as portrait painter.
1956 Marries Maria; they have two children, Mario and Megan.
1956 Family moves to San Francisco. Works as brake man on trolley.
1957Publishes The Big Heart, a book about life working on a cable car.
1958While working in post office, writes and directs three short films: "A King," "Sunlight" and "Three Pick-Up Men for Herrick."
1959Commences Ph.D. studies in astronomy at University of Amsterdam in Holland.
1961Short films screened in Cinemateque du Paris; moves to Paris.
1962-67Works as a journalist, writing crime stories for France Observateur. Literary editor of Hara Kiri, a weekly illustrated satirical periodical. Writes five novels (in French): Un Ours Pour le F.B.I. (A Bear for the F.B.I.), Le Chinois XIV, La Fête a Harlem (A Harlem Party), Un Americain En Enfer (English title: The True American) and La Permission (English title: The Story of a Three-Day Pass).
1967Writes and directs his first feature film, La Permission, adapted from his novel. Selected as official French entry in 1967 San Francisco Film Festival; wins festival, earning three-picture deal with Columbia Pictures.
1968Moves back to United States.
1968Brer Soul album; A&M.
1969Aint Supposed to Die a Natural Death album; A&M.
1970Writes and directs his second feature film, Watermelon Man.
1971Writes, produces, directs, stars in and scores Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song; soundtrack album released on Stax
1971As Serious as a Heart-Attack album; A&M.
1971Aint Supposed to Die a Natural Death musical opens on Broadway; earns seven Tony nominations. Aint Supposed to Die a Natural Death cast album; earns two Grammy nominations (composer and producer).
1972Dont Play us Cheap (adapted from his novel La Fête a Harlem) opens on Broadway; earns two Tony nominations. Dont Play us Cheap cast album Dont Play us Cheap feature film
1974What the...You Mean I Can’t Sing?! album; Atlantic
1976Writer, “Just an Old Sweet Song;” TV film. Runs in Boston Marathon
1981Writer & director of Emmy winning, “Sophisticated Gents” TV film; adapted from John Williams’s novel, The Junior Bachelor Society.
1982Waltz of the Stork opens on Broadway.
1983Earns his options trading license; becomes first black trader on the American Stock Exchange.
1984Writer & director, “The Day they Came to Arrest the Book,” TV film; earns Emmy nomination.
1985Co-writer, Greased Lightning.
1986Bold Money published; a best-selling guide to options trading for laymen.
1989Directs fifth feature film, Identity Crisis, starring his son Mario. Directs short film, “Vroom, Vroom, Vroom”.
1990No Identity Crisis: A Father and Son’s Own History of Working Together published.
1992Dirty Pictures published by Simon & Schuster.
1994The Making of ‘Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song’ published by Neo-Press Receives honorary doctorate degree from Hofstra University.
1994Host, NPR’s “Blue Stage”
1995Ghetto Gothic album; Capitol Publishes novel Panther; adapts screenplay for film, directed by Mario.
1998-99Performs in NYC cabarets and nightclubs with his band Roadkill.
2000Sixth feature film, Le Conte du ventre plein (English title: Bellyful); adapted from La Bonne a tout faire, from the story collection Le Chinois XIV.
2002Awarded a chevalier in the French Legion of Honor.
2002Appears in Baltimore, a multi-media art installation by Isaac Julien; Baltimore & NYC.
2003Appears in Baltimore, a multi-media art installation by Isaac Julien; Baltimore & NYC.
2004Concert tour in France performing original songs along with adaptations of Aristide Bruant's music.
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