UE Honors Ron Glass

"I’m sure they have others that have left Shanklin Theatre to do great things, but I think Ron Glass will probably be one of the most memorable students to ever be on this campus,” David Shaheed said Saturday. Shaheed was one of the speakers at the University of Evansville’s event honoring the late Ron Glass.

Back in 1967, Glass was just getting his start at UE, called Evansville College back then, but his friends still thought highly of him.

"He was a really special guy, and we became pretty close when he was a student here and i was first on the faculty,” John Lutz said. Lutz teaches theatre at UE, and has since Glass was a student.

In 1968, Lutz directed a play, with Glass as the lead, touching on civil rights issues. When it came close to the debut, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

Glass and Lutz considered cancelling the show.

"In the long run, we decided it was better for us to do it,” Lutz said.

It turned out to be a sign of things to come for the young actor, who broke out as a Hollywood star in the 1970s. Glass was insistent to not take stereotypical roles given to many black actors at the time. He wanted to play intelligent strong men, which his friend Shaheed thinks says a lot about him.

"(It says) that he knew who he was, and he wasn't willing to compromise his talent just to get work,” Shaheed said.

Shaheed said Glass opened the door for other black actors to play the roles they wanted to play. Glass continued to shatter glass ceilings till his last role in 2014.

But Shaheed said he never forgot where he came from.

"Authenticity. He was not one that was boastful, he was really very humble considering his success in Hollywood,” Shaheed said.

Glass’ impact can be see with students performing in the same place he once did.

"Well I think it's very inspiring to say that I’ve gotten the privilege to act on the same stage as Ron Glass did when he was a student here,” UE theatre student Chris Brumley said. “I think the idea that you don't always have to present a character the way someone expects you to present it is tremendously inspiring.”


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