Ronald E. Richardson (January 27, 1952 – April 5, 1995) was an American actor and operatic baritone.
Richardson began his career in the mid-1970s appearing in regional theater and opera productions. He appeared in several Broadway musicals from 1978-1993, arguably best known for his Tony Award and Drama Desk Award-winning performance of Jim in the 1985 Broadway musical Big River.
In 1977, Richardson played “Sportin’ Life” in the Houston Grand Opera production of Porgy and Bess. Richardson’s first role on Broadway was as the “Chief of Police” in the 1978 musical Timbuktu! Over the next several years, Richardson appeared in several regional theatre and opera productions and was in the 1983 National tour of Dreamgirls. But it wasn’t until his award-winning performance as “Jim” in the 1985 Broadway musical Big River, that Richardson became widely known. Richardson’s approach to the role of “Jim”, the runaway slave, was heroic:
“When I play Jim,” he told an interviewer from The New York Times, “I am playing my grandfather, and my mother swears I look like him as a young man. He was born a free man, but his father and mother were slaves. He was very strong, and very majestic.”
On April 5, 1993, Richardson died of complications of AIDS in Bronxville, New York at the age of 43. His funeral was held on April 8 in Mount Vernon, New York where Richardson lived. –Wikipedia