Prominent Brazilian actor Milton Gonçalves, a pioneer of Afro-descendant actors on television in his country, died today in Rio de Janeiro at the age of 88 from complications of a stroke, his relatives said.
The actor, who participated in some fifty soap operas and a dozen films, died at home due to health problems caused by a cerebral vascular accident that he suffered two years ago, for which he had been confined.
During his nearly 65-year career, Gonçalves fought for Afro-descendants to have more space on TV, movies and theater in a country where more than half the population is black.
He tried to represent them politically as a candidate for governor of Rio de Janeiro and a federal deputy for the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), and pressured the production companies to expand the roles they were given. Afro-descendants were only called to represent servants or slaves.
He was one of the protagonists of the telenovela Sin capital (1975), in which for the first time an Afro-descendant played the role of a successful professional on Brazilian television.
In Cuba he was very popular for the telenovela The slave Isaura.