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The Five Heartbeats Details


Loosely based on the life and times of several R&B artists (The Dells, The Temptations, Frankie Lymon, Sam Cooke and others) The Five Heartbeats traces the rise and fall of a popular African-American 1950s singing aggregation. The story is told from the point of view of one of the "Heartbeats," played by Robert Townsend (who also co-produced, directed and co-wrote the script with Keenan Ivory Waynans). The film is an amalgam of anecdotes drawn from real-life experiences: the long struggle upward, the first rush of success, the dishonest record-company executives, the hard-nosed but nurturing managers, the sex, the drugs, the isolation and the precipitous downward slide. The film begins and ends in the 1990s, as the middle-aged "Duck" (Townsend) ruminates on the past and makes the best of the present. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Release date:March 29, 1991


Robert Townsend
as Duck
Michael Wright
as Eddie
as J.T.
Harry J. Lennix
as Dresser
Tico Wells
as Choirboy
Diahann Carroll
as Eleanor Potter
Chuck Patterson
as Jimmy Potter
The Nicholas Brothers
as Ernest 'Sarge' Johnson
Hawthorne James
as Big Red
Harold Nicholas
as Sarge
Tiffanique Webb
as Speakeasy Girl
Frank Fontaine
as Poker Player
Joel Weiss
as St. George Hotel Doorman
Tommy Townsend
as Matthew's Kid
Vincent J. Isaac
as Hitman
Monique Mannen
as Sandra Tillman
Tommy Redmond Hicks
as Pastor Blake
Alexis Johnson
as Little Girl
Anne-Marie Johnson
as Sydney Todd
Lisa Mende
as Marcia Sayles
Barry Diamond
as Five Horseman
Jimmy Woodard
as Midnight Falcon
Marilyn Coleman
as Mrs. King
Theresa Randle
as Brenda
Brian Bradley
as Five Horseman
Timmie Rogers
as Buddy Lewis
Harris Peet
as Phil Shumway
Roy Fegan
as Bird
Veronica Redd
as Mrs. Matthews
Fred Asparagus
as Big Red's Guy
Arnold Johnson
as Mr. Matthews
Randy Harris
as Big Red's Guy
Norma Donaldson
as Mrs. Sawyer
Ron Jaxson
as Ebony Sparks
Lakisha Luke
as Matthew's Kid
Virginia Watson
Lamont Johnson
as Bobby Cassanova
Jaki Brown-Karman
David Drummond
as Policeman
O.L. Duke
as Monroe
Harry Stanback
as Speakeasy Guy
Bob Mardis
as Midnight Falcon
Shanel Cason
as J.T.'s Little Girl
Shannon Chambers
as Matthew's Kid
Griff Ruggles
as Policeman
Carla Brothers
as Tanya Sawyer
Joey Gaynor
as Five Horseman
Christopher Bradley
as Theatre Security Man
Troy Beyer
as Baby Doll
Deborah Lacey
as Rose
Gregory "Popeye" Alexander
as Midnight Falcon
Recoe Walker
as Ebony Sparks
Bobby McGee
as Leon
Kathleen Mitchell
as Crystal
Roger Rose
as The Midnight Falcon
Wayne "Crescendo" Ward
as Ebony Sparks
Suzanne Suter
as Crystal
Tressa Thomas
as Duck's Baby Sister
John Witherspoon
as Wild Rudy
Gigi Bolden
as Crystal
Phyllis Applegate
as Myra Stone
Ron Smith
as Poker Player
Donnie Simpson
as Himself
John Canada Terrell
as Michael "Flash" Turner
Kasi Lemmons
as Cookie
Paul Benjamin
as Mr. King
Eugene Robert Glazer
as David Green
David McKnight
as Pastor Stone


Robert Townsend
Robert Townsend
Christina Schmidlin
Kokayi Ampah
Robert Townsend
Keenen Ivory Wayans
William Dill
Christopher Young
Composer (Music Score)
Stanley Clarke
Composer (Music Score)
Wynn P. Thomas
Production Designer
Don Diers
Art Director
Nancy Israel
Samara Schaffer
Set Designer
Ruth E. Carter
Costume Designer
David Brownlow
Sound/Sound Designer
Michael Peters