Singer, actor and civil rights activist Nick LaTour died on Monday, Feb. 28 at his home in Los Angeles. He was 82.
LaTour’s career spanned six decades as a singer and performer in films, theatre, on television and in concerts nightclubs and television commercials. Listeners admired his rich baritone renditions of spirituals and civil rights anthems, and he was also a beloved storyteller.
LaTour was born Edgar Daniel Nixon Jr., in 1928, named for his father, a leader in the civil rights movement in Montgomery, Alabama who posted bail for imprisoned civil rights icon, Rosa Parks. Mrs. Parks was Edgar Daniel’s Nixon Sr. secretary for the NAACP chapter in Montgomery Alabama. During his childhood, LaTour saw a stream of prominent civil rights activists such as A. Phillip Randolph, Thurgood Marshall and Adam Clayton Powell visit his home. In 1948, a young Edgar assumed a stage name Nick LaTour and moved to New York to pursue a career in the entertainment industry.
His talent as a singer became evident early and after graduating from high school at age 15, he headed to New York to follow his dream of pursuing a career in the entertainment industry. In 1948, he made his night club debut and later toured with many musical revues throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Then came a stint in the U.S. Army, where he entertained in the servicemen’s club and sang over the armed services broadcasting stations.
LaTour settled in Mexico City, Mexico in the 1950’s and studied voice and drama at Mexico City College by day and sang in night clubs at night. After receiving a liberal arts degree, he returned to New York and branched out into acting. LaTour made his Broadway debut in Neil Simon’s play, “God’s Favorite” and toured in Langston Hughes’ musical “Jericho”. He also hosted the Nick La Tour television show in New York City on cable. He recently dazzled his audience with his one man show, “Spirit in the Wind” about his career from 1948 to 1998.
Nick LaTour appeared in popular television shows and movies over the last 30 years had roles in the films “Deep Cover,” “Don Juan Demarco,” and “Jingle All The Way,” “Homer and Eddie,” and “Big Bad Mama 2″ and the “Rosa Parks Story.” LaTour also was regularly featured on a host of television shows including “Good Times” playing the Reverend Gordon; and “The Jeffersons.” He had many guest starring stints on other hit popular television shows such as “Quincy M.E.,” What’s Happening,” “The White Shadow,” “Highway To Heaven,” “227,” “Martin,” “Married with Children,” “Living Single,” “ER,” “The Steve Harvey Show,” “The Jamie Foxx Show,” and appeared in an episode of “Touched By An Angel” written by series star Della Reese.
LaTour also appeared in commercials including one for Sanka Coffee with Lena Horne, and an MCI spot which earned a Clio Award in the best commercial category. He also appeared in the much talked about “CareAmerica” commercial with “Jake the Cat.” LaTour narrated the films “Mighty Times: The Legacy of Rosa Parks,” and Mighty Times: The Children’s March,” which won an Oscar for best documentary.
He founded the E.D. Nixon Foundation, which helps fund after-school programs. LaTour often made appearances to read, speak or sing at the elementary school in Montgomery named for his father. He would share his life experiences with the children, telling them what life was like in the segregated South and how courageous people like his father helped change things.
LaTour died at his home with his Godson, Michael Eaddy at his side and was loved by all of his friends and family. His ashes will be spread in the Pacific Ocean on Saturday, May 12th and will be memorialized on the 13th by The Reverend Della Reese Lett, 600 W. Queen Street, Inglewood, CA. 90301.
Service will begin at 1:00 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family request to send your tax-deductible donation to:
E.D. Nixon Foundation
PO BOX 250676,
Montgomery, Alabama 36125