Morgan Freeman was nominated for a lead actor Academy Award for his performance as the South African leader in Clint Eastwood’s 2009 rugby drama ‘Invictus’
Terrence Howard and Jennifer Hudson played a young Nelson and Winnie Mandela in the still unreleased biopic ‘Winnie’, which was due to be in theaters about two years ago. Some critics ridiculed the casting choices of this production and Winnie Mandela had no participation in the project.
Many youngsters may best know Nelson Mandela from a hilarious is albeit culturally insensitive sketch from ‘Chappelle’s Show’ (the ‘greatest misses’ episode) in which the now reclusive comic portrayed an against-type Mandela as a take-no-prisoners drill sargent whipping unruly kids into shape.
Mandela made a surprise cameo (addressing a classroom of South African children) at the end of Spike Lee’s epic 1992 biopic ‘Malcolm X’. Interesting fact: Mandela, who was in the midst of tenuous negotiations between the ANC and the majority white South African government did not feel comfortable uttering the American civil rights leader’s famous ‘by any means necessary’ line, which is why Malcolm X utters it himself in the final moment of the movie.
Actor and activist Danny Glover once played Mandela in a TV movie of the same name back in 1987.
In 1984, The Special A.K.A. released a single called “Free Nelson Mandela” to protest the imprisonment of the South African activist. It was a surprise hit, reaching #9 on the UK charts.
The adorable twins of ‘The Cosby Show’s Sandra and Elvin were named Winnie and Nelson after the South African civil rights icon and his then-wife.
When Nelson Mandela turned 70 in 1988, an all-star concert was held in his honor at London’s Wembley Stadium and broadcast all over the world. Stevie Wonder, Tracy Chapman and Sting with just some of the illustrious names who appeared.
The legendary Sidney Poitier starred as Mandela (alongside Michael Caine as South African president F.W. de Klerk) in the 1997 TV movie ‘Mandela and De Klerk’
The award-winning British sketch comedy duo Harry & Paul once did a very politically incorrect parody of Mandela in a fake ad for ‘Alco Pops’. They later spoofed the South African in a series of ads selling all kinds of other inappropriate products.
Clarke Peters, best known for this role on ‘The Wire’, played Mandela in the British film ‘Endgame’.
Dennis Haysbert played Nelson Mandela in 2009 film ‘Goodbye Bafana’
David Harewood will play Nelson Mandela in the BBC drama Mrs Mandela, with Sophie Okonedo as Winnie Mandela.
Idris Elba will appear as Mandela in the highly anticipated drama ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ this fall.
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Nelson Mandela made an indelible mark in South Africa and the entire world stage with his struggle against the racial injustice of apartheid.
As people all over the planet pay homage to his historic contributions we should also not forget that Mandela made a substantial cultural impact on our lives as well.
In the three decades after his highly controversial prison-time in Robben Island, Mandela became arguably the most famous African in America.
He inspired music, cinema and yes, more than a few parodies. But even the jokes were made with love and reverence for one of history’s great iconic heroes.