Smart, talented African-American actor Michael Warren could have followed in the star shoes of Sidney Poitier but Denzel Washington beat him to it. Best remembered for his Emmy-nominated role as police officer Bobby Hill in the Steven Bochco crime series Hill Street Blues (1981), Mike’s respected turn on this quality show should have led to much bigger things.
Warren was born in South Bend, Indiana in 1946, the youngest of three children. Excelling in sports at South Bend Central High School, he earned a scholarship to the University of California, Los Angeles, where he majored in television, radio and film. Mike later became an All-American basketball star at UCLA under the legendary John Wooden, and served as the team’s captain for two years. His Bruins teammates would include Kareem-Abdul-Jabbar (then known as Lew Alcindor), Lynn Shackleford, and Lucius Allen. His strong leadership and prowess on the court as a guard helped propel UCLA to two NCAA national championships during the years 1966-1968.
Following an unbilled role as a basketball referee in the film Halls of Anger (1970), Mike received his first big acting break by chance when a job as a technical consultant for the basketball sequences in director Jack Nicholson’s film Drive, He Said (1971) led to an on-camera featured role in the film. Developing an ad agency in Los Angeles to counterbalance the unsteadiness of a fledgling acting career, he landed some commercial work here and there before earning his first regular role on the short-lived TV series Sierra (1974). He proceeded to take his earnest young mug to such “blaxploitation” films as Cleopatra Jones (1973) and to daytime programming with a 1976 stint on Days of Our Lives (1965). After more episodic work and a failed series pilot, not to mention a supporting role in the basketball-themed comedy Fast Break (1979), Mike hit the TV jackpot with the award-winning, critically-acclaimed Hill Street Blues (1981).
Possessing the same kind of street savvy and cerebral handsomeness as Denzel, Mike seemed a shoo-in for film stardom. Instead, his career moved rather slow and erratically after the end of his hit series in 1987. He did co-star with Cicely Tyson in the holiday season greeter The Kid Who Loved Christmas (1990), and with D.B. Sweeney portraying a basketball coach in Heaven Is a Playground (1991), but, outside of this, nothing of great significance followed. Other series work came and went, the best of the bunch being a recurring role on the series Soul Food (2000).
Nevertheless, Mike continues to work, has a stable home life and currently lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Jenny. They have four children.
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