Photo Credit: Lia Chang
From Back Stage Pass With Lia Chang…
Garland was born on February 14, 1938 in Muskogee, Oklahoma, Garland Lee Thompson, Sr., passed away quickly and peacefully on November 18, 2014. He was 76 years old.
He is survived by his two children, Alexandria Dionne and Garland Lee Thompson, Jr.; his two grandchildren, Colson Oliver and Hazel Duncan; his sisters Shirley Thompson, and Addie Jean Haynes, his brother, Jim Thompson; his nephews Dr. Bryan Haynes DDS, and Oscar Haynes Jr., his niece Karen Haynes, and a host of other cousins and relatives.
His mother, Sylvia Thompson, owned a successful restaurant in Muskogee called Homey Foods, a tremendous feat at the time for an African American woman in the 1930s-40s. His father, James Thompson, was in the Merchant Marines. When Thompson was 7 years old, he moved with his family to Portland, Or. He attended Jefferson High School in Portland, where he discovered his love of theater and dance. Thompson was 20 when he moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting and performing fulltime. One of the first professional roles he landed was as a Firetender – Boar’s Tooth Ceremonial Dancer, in the 1958 Hollywood musical film adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific.