Calvin Brown was born April 23, 1936, in Farmersville, Louisiana. He and his twin brother, Galvin, were two of eight children born to Sylvester and Ida Mae Washington Brown. When Calvin was only two years old, the family moved to Grambling, Louisiana. There, he began working for the U.S. Postal Service as a Second Class Special Delivery Mail Messenger at the age of nine.
Brown maintained his position as a Second Class Special Delivery Mail Messenger all throughout his school years. Once he graduated from high school, he still kept his job while attending Grambling State University. He also played a number of sports and was a member of the marching band. He graduated from Grambling in 1957 and then made his way to California.
Drums Over Africa
Once he moved to California, he began working for the U.S. Postal Service again. He simultaneously worked as an extra in Hollywood films. The first film that he worked on was Drums Over Africa. He started out on the project as an extra but soon began working on stunts. He was paid $600.00 to fall out of a tree in the film and has been doing stunts ever since.
The film industry began taking notice of Brown’s stunt work. He was then hired to be the stunt double for Bill Cosby. He did all of Cosby’s stunt work for the show I Spy. From then on, he was recognized by Hollywood as the first Black stuntman. He landed more gigs, working on TV shows, like Mission Impossible and The Wild Wild West, as well as films, like I Spy Returns and The Split.
Black Stuntman’s Association
While filming The Split, Brown shattered his leg. He was in a straight cast for two years. During that time, he founded the Black Stuntman’s Association. He helped train Black stunt doubles–including some members of the 10th Calvary of the Buffalo Soldiers–all about the business of stunting. He taught them how to properly fall and fight people while remaining safe at all times.
Years of stunting left Brown with a number of leg injuries. His injuries prevented him from earning a living as a stuntman. As a result, he turned to drugs and alcohol for solace. After spending five years in the wilderness, he entered the Salvation Army’s Harbor Lights Rehabilitation center for one year. After nine months he was sober and vowed to never use drugs again.
After reclaiming his sobriety, Brown founded the Sober Living House in 1990. Although he was too injured to work as a stunt double for anyone, he continues to teach other Black stunt doubles the art of stunting. At the age of 82 years old, Calvin Brown now lives in California with his wife Ruth Ann.
**The views and actions of the DDH historical figures that are featured may not reflect the views and beliefs of Ramiro The Writer or We Buy Black. Thank you.**]]>