Bill Nunn, a versatile actor best known for playing the role of Radio Raheem, the boombox-toting neighborhood philosopher killed by police officers in Spike Lee’s 1989 film “Do the Right Thing,” died on Saturday in Pittsburgh. He was 63.
His death was announced on social media by Mr. Lee. His wife, Donna, told The Associated Press that Mr. Nunn had cancer.
The first major acting role for Mr. Nunn, the son of a well-known professional football scout, was in the 1988 film “School Daze,” also written and directed by Mr. Lee. The next year brought the critically acclaimed “Do the Right Thing,” in which he played the iconic Radio Raheem, who carries a boombox blaring Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” through the streets of the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn on the hottest day of summer.
Radio Raheem sits at the moral heart of the film, delivering a soliloquy directly to the camera on the ceaseless contest between love and hate, symbolized by the four-finger rings he wears on each hand. The character’s choking death at the hands of police officers in front of a crowd of his neighbors incites the film’s wrenching final scenes.