He trained at the Juilliard School of Music and graduated from Dillard University in 1958. Early in his career, he performed with The Belafonte Folk Singers. He performed in a number of Broadway musicals, including Hallelujah and Ain't Supposed to Die a Natural Death. In 1965, he worked alongside Amiri Baraka, Sun Ra, Albert Ayler and Sonia Sanchez at the Black Arts Repertory Theatre/School in Harlem; during this period, the theater was frequently raided and surveilled by the New York City Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He had a small role as a police sergeant in The Anderson Tapes and was a cast member in the short-lived CBS sitcom, Roll Out. He is best known as one of the original, albeit least heralded, Not Ready for Prime Time Players of Saturday Night Live. From his time on Saturday Night Live, he is best recalled for his character of Dominican baseball player Chico Escuela, and for his impression of Sammy Davis Jr.