Joe Seneca

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Joe Seneca
Joe Seneca.jpg
Born Joel McGhee Jr.
(1919-01-14)January 14, 1919
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Died August 15, 1996(1996-08-15) (aged 77)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actor, singer, songwriter
Years active 1940s–1996

Joe Seneca (January 14, 1919 – August 15, 1996)[1] was an American actor, singer, and songwriter.

Life and career[edit]

Seneca was born Joel McGhee, Jr. in Cleveland, Ohio. Prior to his acting career, he belonged to the R&B singing group The Three Riffs, which was active from the late 1940s and performed at upscale supper clubs in New York City.[2] He was also a songwriter and had big hits with "Talk to Me" which was sung by Little Willie John, and "Break It to Me Gently," which was a smash hit twice, once by Brenda Lee in 1962 and once by Juice Newton in 1982.

In the 1982 film, The Verdict, Seneca plays the supporting role of Dr. Thompson, a small-town women's hospital physician brought in by attorney Frank Galvin (Paul Newman) to support his belief that two famous doctors' incompetence left his client alive but in a coma. Seneca's performance, while subdued, brings a gritty realism to the court proceedings and was one of his more important film roles. Arguably his most well-known roles are that of bluesman Willie Brown in Crossroads (1986) and Dr. Meddows in The Blob (1988), the evil head of a government team sent to contain the title creature.

Seneca also made multiple appearances on The Cosby Show as Hillman President Dr. Zachariah J. Hanes. He also played Alvin Newcastle, a man suffering from Alzheimer's disease, on an episode of The Golden Girls entitled "Old Friends".[3] Seneca appeared in Spike Lee's School Daze as Mission College President McPherson.

Seneca played Eddie Haynes, on Matlock, in the May 9, 1989 episode "The Blues Singer." He later played a blind murder witness in the October 13, 1993 Law & Order episode "Profile."

Seneca appeared in Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel" music video in the late 1980s.

He died from asthma at the age of 77.[4]

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^ Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues - A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara: Praeger Publishers. p. 255. ISBN 978-0313344237. 
  2. ^ "The Three Riffs ", Vocal Group Harmony. Retrieved 25 October 2016
  3. ^ The Golden Girls Season 3 episode 52; air date September 19, 1987
  4. ^ Crocker, Catherine (August 17, 1996). "Obituaries | Joe Seneca, Singer, Composer, Actor". The Seattle Times. Associated Press. 

External links[edit]