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OLTL's Daytime Emmy Winning Favorite Al Freeman Jr. Dies!

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

One of On-Air On-Soaps most beloved performers in the history of soaps, Al Freeman Jr. has died!  For many years, Al played Llanview police Captain Ed Hall on One Life to Live.  Freeman played the role from 1972 till 1987.  Many long time OLTL fans will remember his on-screen relationship with Ellen Holly (Carla).  But what we will always remember is the sweet and amazing friendship that Ed built with the hooker-with-the-heart-of-gold, Karen Wolek played by Judith Light.

Al Freeman was such a subtle performer of such dignity and charisma during his time on One Life.  He finally won his long overdue Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in 1979 and was the first African-American to win a Daytime Emmy.

News of Freeman’s death came on Friday from Howard University through this short statement.  “It is with tremendous sadness that the passing of our beloved Professor Al Freeman, Jr. is confirmed,” Kim James Bey, chair of the university’s theater department said in a statement.  Freeman was a faculty member at the university.  Bey gave no details about the death of Freeman, who was 78 and taught acting at the Washington-based university, but said a bigger statement would be issued later.

Freeman Jr., was also widely recognized for his portrayal of Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad in Spike Lee’s 1992 film Malcolm X, plus  countless television, film and theatre projects throughout his enduring career. Now after the jump watch some scenes with Al Freeman Jr as Ed Hall on One Life to Live, and then share your thoughts on his passing with us.


Leave a comment | 26 Comments


  1. diane c

    August 11, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Loved al freeman jr on oltl, as ed hall .great actor

  2. Sharon B.

    August 11, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    He was a great actor and will be missed by many. I didn’t know he won the First African Ameican Emmy. Also did not know he had been gone from OLTL that long!

  3. Gmbenet

    August 11, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    I saw Al Freeman, Jr. on OLTL during the brief time that I watched the show. Later, he appeared on an episode of The Cosby Show as Heathcliff’s former track coach(?). When I saw him on The Cosby Show, I immediately associated him with OLTL.

    Did not know Mr. Freeman had served as a professor at Howard University, but glad to hear it. Phylicia Rashad who played Clair Huxtable, also taught at Howard University. They had much to talk about if they served at the same time.

    My condolences to Mr. Freeman’s family and Howard University.

  4. margie

    August 11, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    We were blessed to have him portray Ed Hall! Sad news of his passing. Our stars are so much biger than life. God bless he will RIP at home.

  5. Sal Piscioneri

    August 11, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    How sad, Ed, Carla, Sadie and the Woleks (all) made OLTL tremendous to watch and I miss them all so much. This news just makes me sad of all we lost over the years on soaps.

  6. dg

    August 11, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    He was an awesome, ground breaking actor who gave legitimacy to the genre. His era of One Life was classically indicative of Agnes Nixon’s vision of daytime. This is a huge loss, particularly for the African American acting community.

    His portrayal of Elijah Mohammad in Malcolm X was nothing short of brilliant. He will be truly missed.

  7. Debbie Harris

    August 11, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    So sad to hear of Al Freeman Jr.’s passing. Loved his portrayal of Ed Hall on OLTL and the romance/friendship between him and Carla. Ah, memories. OLTL forever!!
    RIP Al Freeman Jr.


    August 11, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Seeing those old OLTL clips from ’84 brought back great memories of not only a great daytime soap, but also of a great actor like Al Freeman, Jr. It’s little wonder why he was such a success, not only on this show, but throughout his entire career, too. He always carried himself with such dignity, honor, and class! OLTL was very priveledged to have him as part of their cast! His presence will indeed be missed, but he’ll always be remembered for his great work, especially in “Malcolm X”. RIP, Al, and thank you for giving of yourself as you did, we’ll remember you always!

  9. JLH

    August 11, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    I’ve never forgotten Ed Hall or the truly great actor who portrayed him. Ed/Al is very much a part of fond OLTL memories. Very sad news.

  10. Llan fan

    August 11, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    Great to hear Michael Zaslow’s piano playing again. We’ve lost so many great ones. No one these days compares to them. RIP Al et al.

  11. ethel

    August 11, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    i remember when he started on oltl – what an awesome actor! my prayers & thoughts are with his family………………………

    • susan M.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:46 pm


  12. Elhu

    August 11, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    A class act and a beloved character who will always be remembered. May you rest in peace Al Freeman Jr.

  13. Jose

    August 12, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    RIP… what a great actor, class personified.

  14. Brian Greene

    August 12, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    Rest In Peace, Dear Wonderful Al!

  15. Iakovos

    August 13, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Freeman was a class act, it seems. I remember him on OLTL as Ed Hall and always wished as the years passed there would be a way to bring him back as Ed with Carla and others. I always loved the NYC-based daytime dramas for they were populated by such amazing talents. OLTL had many of them. Bless you, Al Freeman Jr.! You are remembered well.

  16. Christy

    August 13, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    I can still hear his voice in my head… he was a great actor on One Life to Live, but his acting career spanned from 1958 to 2004 (see IMDB for the long list). Not only was he the first African -American to win a Daytime Emmy Award, he was also the first African-American to direct a soap opera as he directed several episodes of One Life to Live.

    I didn’t know about his teaching career but it seems to fit as he was such a great actor.

    He will be greatly missed.

  17. Christy

    August 13, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    one door closes and another one opens….

    today I read about news for 2 former OLTL actors – Al Freeman Jr.’s passing, and a birth of a first child for Brandon Routh (ex-Seth Anderson) and his wife Courtney Ford ( of True Blood), Leo James Routh, born Friday, August 10.

    On One Life to Live his character Seth came to Llanview in 2001 with Natalie Balsom and he knew Natalie, not Jessica, was Viki’s true daughter. … back when they didn’t know they were both Viki’s daughters, that is.

    You might remember Brandon more as the face of the new Superman in the 2006 movie, Superman Returns.

  18. susan M.

    August 13, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    rememeber those days of OLTL, I watched with mt mom at that time….Ed Hall & Carla Gray marriage on OLTL Oct. of 1973……The Woleks………………….RIP…

    • susan M.

      August 13, 2012 at 2:44 pm

      When OLTL was in B&W……………………………….

      • susan M.

        August 13, 2012 at 2:47 pm

        Was a good old soul & will be missed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. MBmomof3

    August 13, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Great actor. Loved his OLTL character and he was in many of my favorite storylines. Especially the Ed and Carla/Clara story.

  20. gloria

    August 13, 2012 at 8:07 pm

    I can hear his voice right now. Reminds me of just how good OLTL always was & makes me miss it more than ever.

    • susan M.

      August 14, 2012 at 1:57 pm


  21. Carol Painter

    August 14, 2012 at 11:53 am

    Awww, how sad, I didn’t expect to read this. I just check in every now and then, to read the top news, stories, and updates. How sad. I enjoyed watching him on OLTL.
    sad News.

  22. Susan C

    August 27, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    He will be greatly missed. And has been missed off screen for a long time. I also remember him fondly from Hot l Baltimore….very funny show and a different side to Mr. Freeman!

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