February 10, 1949
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Born February 10, 1949, Harold Sylvester was the first African-American to receive an athletic scholarship from Tulane University. Although he attended as a basketball player, his degrees in theater and psychology saw that he graduated as an actor. Sylvester started his show business career with a spate of 1970s films that included elements near and dear to his heart, appearing in the basketball comedy "Fast Break" and the New-Orleans-set thriller "The Night of the Strangler." While he continued to thrive as a big-screen character actor in films such as the sci-fi comedy "Innerspace" and the wrestling drama "Vision Quest," Sylvester and his natural charisma frequently caught the attention of TV producers and casting directors throughout the '80s and '90s, landing him in recurring roles on everything from the sitcoms "Mary" and "Shaky Ground" to the law-enforcement dramas "Walking Tall" and "Hill Street Blues." The actor endeared prime-time viewers with his portrayal of Griff the shoe salesman on 44 episodes of "Married with Children" before appearing in a regular role on "City of Angels," a short-lived medical drama on which Sylvester also made his behind-the-scenes debuts as a producer and story editor. In addition to writing the New-Orleans-basketball TV movie "Passing Glory," Sylvester scripted episodes of "NYPD Blue" nearly a decade after appearing on the long-running series as a guest actor.