Stage and screen actor Ed Bullins, known for his blistering but comic comic timing and one-liners throughout the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, died Monday at age 86 in New York. He had been battling cancer, his cousin Paula Bullins said.
Born Ed Brown in Buffalo, New York, to African-American educator and musician Florence Brown and late sailor Charles Bullins, Bullins joined the Army at 17 years old, first in China and South Korea and later in Germany. He served two years before graduating from Howard University with a degree in vocal and drama arts.
After a few television acting appearances, Bullins appeared in the movie “Imitation of Life” (1971) with Edward G. Robinson and Barry Nelson.
“I was trying to learn everything that Robinson had to do and I got to a point where he wasn’t acting — he was showing me what he did,” Bullins told the Toronto Sun in 2004.
He also had minor roles in several television shows, among them the 1970s TV anthology series “Anthology” with Stan Freberg and the 1970s “Green Acres” spinoff “The Dorsey Files.”
More regularly, Bullins worked in movies, films including George Roy Hill’s “Cleopatra Jones” (1980) and “Out of Africa” (1985), in which he starred opposite Meryl Streep. He also had roles in Harold Ramis’ “Ghostbusters” (1984) and “Groundhog Day” (1993).