His career was brief but included a few memorable roles. He made his mark early on as a “sidekick” though he never really considered himself one. He put a stamp on it by becoming the “first”. We are talking about Avery Brooks, an actor everyone knows in Hollywood, but somehow, someway, faded off into the sunset. Where is Avery Brooks now and why haven’t we seen him lately?
A MAN CALLED HAWK
Avery Brooks had not been on the Hollywood scene long before he nailed an attention getting role. He had a part in an American Playhouse episode called Solomon Northup’s Odyssey, which was based on a true story of a black man who is born a free man in the mid-19th Century before slavery was abolished. From there he grabbed a small part in the TV movie Finnegan Begin Again.
These two roles led Avery Brooks right into his first big part as Hawk in the TV series Spenser: For Hire. The show starred Robert Urich as Spenser, it ran for three seasons and 65 episodes of which Brooks appeared in all of them.
Even though Spenser was cut short after three seasons, Brooks’ Hawk left a lasting impression. In fact, Avery Brooks even received a series of his own, a spin-off from Spenser titled A Man Called Hawk. The series would find Hawk moving from Boston back to his hometown of Washington, D.C. His character would also undergo a change, from an anti-hero to a people’s champion. Unfortunately for Avery Brooks it only lasted one season.
That short-lived series wouldn’t be the only time Avery Brooks would reprise his role as Hawk. He would return in four TV movies: Spenser: Ceremony, Spenser: Pale Kings and Princes, Spenser: The Judas Goat, and Spenser: A Savage Place. Those four movies would also see the return of Robert Urich as the title character.
AVERY BROOKS ON STAR TREK
While Avery Brooks continued to make appearances as Hawk, he beamed into the role that may have defined him more as an actor than his character of Hawk. That would be of Captain Benjamin Sisko in the series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
Getting the part of Sisko on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was no easy feat. Avery Brooks had to beat out over 100 other hopefuls of all racial backgrounds. But when he got the part, Avery Brooks became the first Black-American to lead a Star Trek series.
Series producer, Ronald D. Moore, had only wonderful things to say about Avery Brooks, the person. “Avery, like his character (Sisko), is a very complex man. He is not a demanding or ego-driven actor, rather he is a thoughtful and intelligent man who sometimes has insights into the character that no one else has thought about. He has also been unfailingly polite and a classy guy in all my dealings with him,” he told Trekweb.
Avery Brooks played Sisko for seven seasons and appeared in all 173 episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. When the show first introduces Sisko, he is a grieving widower having just lost his wife by the Borg in the Battle of Wolf 359. Sisko is also the father of a pre-teen. Over the seven seasons, his character grows, showing great leadership as he is promoted from commander to captain. It is also revealed in the series final season that his biological mother was one of the Prophets.
To the prophets, and fans everywhere, Avery Brooks became known as a legendary figure in Star Trek. They still call him The Sisko.
DURING DEEP SPACE
Avery Brooks continued to work while filming Deep Space Nine. The series ran from 1993-99 and during that time he not only filmed the four Spenser movies, but he was also seen in the TV series Gargoyles and in two feature films, The Big Hit and American History X.
Sadly though, Avery Brooks acting career soon ended. After Deep Space concluded its run in 1999, Brooks was seen only one more time in the movie 15 Minutes with Robert De Niro. And that would be the last we’d see of Avery Brooks as an actor.
The end of Brooks’ acting career didn’t mean he stopped working. Brooks was part of many documentary projects, one main project being The Captains. This documentary was led by William Shatner and he interviewed the five other starship captains from the Star Trek franchise. They included Scott Bakula, Kate Mulgrew, Chris Pine, Patrick Stewart, and yes, Avery Brooks.
Brooks’ interview in the documentary was, to say the least, unique. He seemed to be playing with Shatner and talked endlessly about Jazz and made confusing metaphors. Here’s a snippet of that strange, strange interview…
Brooks also was the narrator on many projects that included Africa’s Elephant Kingdom, The Better Hour, and The Bible’s Greatest Secrets.
AVERY BROOKS NOW
Now 71-years-old, Avery Brooks is an accomplished musician. In fact, Brooks has released a CD titled Here, a jazz album that contains spoken word poetry as well as many jazz and blues covers. He is also part of an opera CD titled Tania.
But why did Avery Brooks stop appearing on screen? Avery decided to put his abilities to use as an acting teacher. Before retiring but after he stopped working in Hollywood, Avery Brooks was an associate professor of theater at Rutgers’ Mason Gross School of the Arts.
Avery Brooks originally began teaching in 1976 but left for his acting career. He then came back once his career was complete and then became part of the Rutgers staff teaching students. He is also a member of the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni though he seems to be largely retired from teaching now.