Towson State College graduate Howard E. Rollins Jr. has been a stage leading man since the mid-1970s. The tall, imposing African-American actor earned an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of fiercely proud Coalhouse Walker Jr. in Ragtime (1981). As impressive as his theatre and film resumés are his TV credits, including such roles as Andrew Young in the 1978 miniseries King and George Haley in the 1979 multiparter Roots: The Next Generation. Howard E. Rollins was seen on a more regular basis on the ABC daytime drama Another World (for which he was Emmy-nominated); as explosives expert Bannister Parks on the 1985 "buddy western" series Wildside; and as Virgil Tibbs on the long-running (1988-92) TV adaptation of In the Heat of the Night. He made his final feature film appearance in Drunks (1995), a slice-of-life drama set at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Six weeks before he died on December 8, 1997, the 42-year-old Rollins had been diagnosed with lymphoid. Complications from the disease caused his demise.