Glynn Turman: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Marrying Aretha Franklin, and more

5th January 2021

We’re back with our first new episode of the year! It’s already one of our favorites in recent memory. Actor Glynn Turman talks with us about his extraordinary life. You might know him as Clarence Royce on The Wire, or Doctor Senator on the most recent season of Fargo. And he’s had a number of iconic roles in films like in Gremlins and Cooley High. He stars in Netflix’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, it’s a film adaptation of the August Wilson play of the same name. The story centers on a fateful recording session of “Mother of the Blues” by Ma Rainey in 1927 Chicago. Glynn’s been in the game for over half a century – he reflects on his past roles and future ambitions. We also discuss what it was like working with Chadwick in his final film role. Plus, he shares an incredible story about how he met his second wife … Aretha Franklin.

Episode notes


(Photo: Leon Bennett / Getty Images)

Actor Glynn Turman on Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Cooley High, and his marriage with the Queen of Soul

We’re back with our first new episode of the year! It’s already one of our favorites in recent memory.

Actor Glynn Turman talks with us about his extraordinary life.

His first big role was at 12, in the original Broadway production of A Raisin in the Sun – he performed alongside Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee and Louis Gossett Jr.

In 1975, he starred in the hugely influential film Cooley High. He played mayor Clarence Royce on The Wire, Doctor Senator on the most recent season of Fargo.

His latest role is in Netflix’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. It’s a film adaptation of the August Wilson play of the same name. The story centers on a fateful recording session of “Mother of the Blues” by Ma Rainey in 1927 Chicago. Glynn stars alongside Viola Davis and the late Chadwick Boseman in his final role.

Glynn’s been in the game for over half a century – he reflects on his past roles and future ambitions. We also discuss what it was like working with Chadwick in his final film role. Plus, he shares an incredible story about how he met his second wife … Aretha Franklin.

In this episode...

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  • Glynn Turman

About the show

Bullseye is a celebration of the best of arts and culture in public radio form. Host Jesse Thorn sifts the wheat from the chaff to bring you in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary minds in our culture.

Bullseye has been featured in Time, The New York Times, GQ and McSweeney’s, which called it “the kind of show people listen to in a more perfect world.” Since April 2013, the show has been distributed by NPR.

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