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


Robert Townsend
Robert Townsend
Kokayi Ampah
Christina Schmidlin
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