He was never a rap star, but actor Bill Nunn became a permanent part of hip hop culture because of his iconic character, “Radio Raheem,” in the legendary Spike Lee film Do the Right Thing.
Radio Raheem was one of the most memorable characters from that 1980s film because of the universal respect he commanded in that Bronx neighborhood, the fact that he always hauled around that gigantic radio blasting Public Enemy’s classic cut “Fight the Power” and, most of all, that he was murdered at the end of the film as a result of police brutality.
Lee confirmed that Nunn has passed away at the young age of 62 in his Pittsburgh hometown. Nunn became so synonymous with the Radio Raheem character that they forgot that he starred in other high profile movies, including: the stuttering “Duddaman” role in “New Jack City” opposite Wesley Snipes; as a cop trying to protect Whoopi Goldberg in the blockbuster film “Sister Act;” Money Train and, most recently, the TV series “Sirens.”
Spike Lee is clearly affected by Nunn’s passing, posting this note on Instagram in honor of his friend: “My Dear Friend, My Dear Morehouse Brother- Da Great Actor Bill Nunn As Most Of You Know Him As Radio Raheem Passed Away This Morning In His Hometown Of Pittsburgh. Long Live Bill NUNN. RADIO RAHEEM Is Now RESTING IN POWER. RADIO RAHEEM WILL ALWAYS BE FIGHTING DA POWERS DAT BE. MAY GOD WATCH OVER BILL NUNN.”
My Dear Friend, My Dear Morehouse Brother- Da Great Actor Bill Nunn As Most Of You Know Him As Radio Raheem Passed Away This Morning In His Hometown Of Pittsburgh. Long Live Bill NUNN. RADIO RAHEEM Is Now RESTING IN POWER. RADIO RAHEEM WILL ALWAYS BE FIGHTING DA POWERS DAT BE. MAY GOD WATCH OVER BILL NUNN.
Lee posted a second photo of Nunn’s iconic character Radio Raheem along with the famous soliloquy he gave in the Do the Right Thing movie about the fight between hate and love:
Radio Raheem. Let me tell you the story of Right Hand, Left Hand. It’s a tale of good and evil. Hate! It was with this hand that Cane iced his brother. Love! These five fingers, they go straight to the soul of man. The right hand: the hand of love. The story of life is this: static. One hand is always fighting the other hand, and the left hand is kicking much ass. I mean, it looks like the right hand, Love is finished. But hold on, stop the presses the right hand is coming back. Yeah, he got the left hand on the ropes, now, that’s right. Yea, Boom, it’s a devastating right and Hate is hurt, he’s down. Ooh! Ooh! Left-Hand Hate KOed by Love. If I love you, I love you. But if I hate you…Mookie: there it is, Love and Hate. Raheem I love you bruh…
Words by Jimmy Tee