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African American leading man James Edwards came to acting by way of a near-tragedy. Seriously injured in an accident while serving in World War II, Edwards went through a painful convalescence as surgeons completely restructured his face. His vocal chords were also severely damaged, and it was suggested by his doctors that Edwards take elocution lessons to restore his voice. Upon recovering, Edwards decided to celebrate his "rebirth" by becoming an actor. After touring in the stage production Deep are the Roots, Edwards made his film debut as a boxer in RKO's The Set-Up (1949). He was starred in his next film, Home of the Brave (1949), appropriately cast as a wounded soldier. James Edwards' last film was the 1970 Best Picture winner Patton, starring George C. Scott; he died on January 4, 1970.

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