Black History Month is a great time of the year when Americans all across the country can recognize and celebrate what historical Black figures have accomplished. Political figures such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Sojourner Truth, Barack Obama and more, are all fantastic examples of excellence within the Black community. But, they only make up a small percentage of an even larger catalog.
Just to name a few, famous Black athletes like Michael Jordan, Serena Williams and Tiger Woods serve as iconic sports figures and will always be seen as heroes to both men and women of all races and ethnicities across the entire globe. Not only the world of professional sports, but Hollywood itself has also been an outstanding gateway for Black content creators to make their names known in movies, television, music and culture in general.
Celebrities like Denzel Washington, Spike Lee and Jordan Peele have given countless amounts of joy to millions of people on planet Earth. The use of their voices and talents in the media has resulted in some truly admirable work. However, there is one name that is frequently left out of the conversation surrounding notable Black men and women. That name is Rudy Ray Moore.
Rudolph Frank Moore (March 17, 1927 – October 19, 2008) was an American comedian, singer, actor, musician and film producer. Ray Moore is most famously known for creating and portraying the character Dolemite. Dolemite is a pimp from the 1975 film, “Dolemite” and its sequels, “The Human Tornado” (1976) and “The Return of Dolemite” (2002). Rudy Ray Moore has also starred in other films such as “Petey Wheatstraw” (1977), “Disco Godfather” (1979) and “Penitentiary II” (1982).
The term “Blaxploitation” definitely fits the style and tone of most of Rudy Ray Moore’s work. For anybody that doesn’t know, blaxploitation is a portmanteau of the words black and exploitation. Blaxploitation films are produced independently and are made with very low budgets. The reason why the word Black is a part of the title is because blaxploitation films are predominantly made by black crews for black movie-goers. However, more widespread appeal outside of the Black community was found all around the world.
The 2019 biopic film titled “Dolemite Is My Name” starring Eddie Murphy as the main man himself tells the story of Ray Moore’s life. While the film is not scene-for-scene accurate of how his life unfolded, it still is a tremendous introduction to Rudy Ray Moore and how his career started. “Dolemite Is My Name” is a wonderful film and is definitely worth a watch.
What separates Rudy Ray Moore’s filmography from incompetent filmmakers, is that Moore’s work feels like it has a sense of character to it. All of Rudy Ray Moore’s movies perfectly encapsulate him and his style of comedy. Even if Rudy Ray Moore had much higher budgets to make more quality films, I still think that a good amount of movie critics wouldn’t particularly love or perhaps understand his humor. But hey, you cannot please everyone.
Similar to other b-movie filmmakers like Lloyd Kaufman and Roger Corman, Rudy Ray Moore was a man who despite his constant efforts to get his films into the mainstream, eventually made it to the top and entertained audiences all over the nation. He’s a true cinematic legend not only for the Black community but for every community.
Black History Month should celebrate more unnoticed voices like Rudy Ray Moore. There are still many black men and women in history that have not been recognized yet. Hopefully, Rudy Ray Moore can get his flowers while being in heaven.
Rudy Ray Moore is the very definition of a hidden gem. While Rudy Ray Moore’s films are not of the same caliber of filmmaking as something like Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather,” they are still extremely entertaining and make a much better viewing experience with a large group of people. I highly recommend that whoever has read this article, look up Rudy Ray Moore and watch his movies. They will not disappoint.