Sanford and Son actor Raymond Allen has died at the age of 91. TMZ has word from Allen's family that the character actor died in a long-term care facility in California, where he was found to be unresponsive early Monday morning; EMTs tried to revive him, but were unsuccessful. Although Allen's indicated the cause of death was respiratory issues, it doesn't seem as though COVID-19 played a role in his death. The actor had apparently been sick for quite a few years, having been in a health care facility since 2016, where he suffered multiple respiratory issues, like pneumonia.
Allen's daughter, Ta Ronce, posted the following to her Facebook page on Monday morning, letting family and fans know of her father's passing:
"Just wanted to let The Allen Family and friends know that Dad received his wing two hours ago. His warmth, kind heart and cleaver sayings will be missed. His laughter will ring in heaven. Rest In Heavenly Peace Raymond Allen. The last of 12 siblings."
Raymond Gilmore Allen was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1929. After getting into acting, he made his feature-film debut in the 1946 film, Fight That Ghost, which was part of the Pigmeat Alamo Markham series. Allen's screen acting career never really took off until the 1970s when he landed a recurring role as Uncle Woodrow 'Woody' Anderson in Sanford and Son. That part opened the door to more recurring roles on Good Times (Ned the Wino) and Starsky and Hutch (Merl 'The Earl'); and appearances on What's Happening!!, The Love Boat, and The Jeffersons.
Allen's final onscreen role would be in the 1985 TV movie Gus Brown and Midnight Brewster. Some deleted posts from social media indicate that Allen had to retire from acting due to his chronic health concerns. Even so, Allen remained outspoken about how the shows he was a part of helped changed the landscape of TV forever - even if that was never Hollywood's intention:
"Hollywood is not very creative. They jump on the bandwagon. As a result of our success, they said, 'OK, black shows. We’re going to go with that. If we had failed, there wouldn’t have been any black shows for another decade," he said. "So, it wasn’t really groundbreaking, it was moneymaking."
R.I.P. Raymond Gilmore Allen.