Earle Hyman is an American actor best known for his recurring role as Cliff's father, Russell Huxtable, on the television sitcom The Cosby Show, for which he was nominated for an Emmy Award as Outstanding Guest Performer in a Comedy Series, from 1984-1992.
Born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, Hyman and his family moved to Brooklyn, where he grew up. His parents took him to a production of Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts starring Alla Nazimova in Brighton Beach as a present for his 13th birthday, which made him want to be an actor.
Impressed with Ibsen, he learned Norwegian, a language he became fluent in, enabling him to act in Norway, where he keeps a second home.
In 1944, Hyman made his debut on Broadway in Philip Yordan's Anna Lucasta, a hit that ran for 957 performances. He next appeared on Broadway in 1952, in Moss Hart's The Climate of Eden, which was a flop, then played the Prince of Morocco the following year in a production of The Merchant of Venice starring Luther Adler as Shylock.
In 1955, he had a role in No Time for Sergeants, a hit that made Andy Griffith a star. Over the next 37 years, he would appear on Broadway another 11 times, ending with his turn in the title role of Ibsen's The Master Builder in 1992. The circle that had begun back in 1939 had been completed.
In addition to his work on Broadway, he was a charter member of the American Shakespeare Theatre that was created in 1955, playing Othello in 1957 (he had appeared as The Moor two years earlier on a Camera Three production).
He was in the London production of A Raisin in the Sun in 1959. For his theatrical work in Norway, the Norwegian sovereign awarded him St. Olav's medal in recognition of "outstanding services rendered in connection with the spreading of information about Norway abroad".
Hyman made his movie debut as an uncredited extra in the Oscar-winning The Lost Weekend in 1945, but it was TV that proved more welcoming to his talent. He appeared on numerous TV programs from 1954 to 2001, most famously on The Cosby Show.