As a kid growing up in San Bernardino, California, I remember this cute, curly-headed, green eyed young guy coming over my family’s house with his handyman/electrician father to do some repair work. Little did I know the shy teen would become an iconic TV star.
Yeah, Philip Michael Thomas who played Ricardo “Rico” Tubbs alongside Don Johnson in the 1980s hit TV show “Miami Vice,” lived in “Berdoo.” In fact, not far from the Wilson clan, and he attended San Bernardino High School with one of my brothers.
Long before “Miami Vice” made Thomas a superstar, he was preparing for his closeup. Thomas was bitten by the acting bug in high school and while attending UC Riverside and Oakwood Seventh-Day Adventist College in Huntsville Alabama.
Thomas made his Broadway debut in Charles Gordones’ 1971 Pulitzer Prize-winning play “No Place to Be Somebody.” He later starred in a string of movies such as “Coonskin” (1974) with the late Scatman Crothers and Barry White, the outstanding 1976 music drama, “Sparkle” opposite Irene Cara and in the often overlooked, blaxploitation flick, “Book of Numbers” with songstress, Freda “Band of Gold” Payne in her big screen debut. Payne is pictured in the b/w pic with Thomas.
“Book of Numbers” also features the terrific Broadway actress and dancer Hope Clarke (“Purlie”) and the legendary D'Urville Martin (The orginal "Dolemite" and "Black Casear").
Raymond St. Jacques (“Come Back, Charleston Blue” and “Glory” w/Denzel Washington) directed and starred in “Book of Numbers” which is an adaptation of Robert Deane Pharr’s 1969 novel, “The Book of Numbers.”
"Book of Numbers" which bowed in theaters in 1973, is one of my favorite “old school” dramadies and why I’ve chosen it as the “Old School Video Pick of The Month.” If you’re able to check it out, you’ll see why.
Despite being low budget, “Book of Numbers” is a stylish and well-made film that takes place during the Depression in the 1930s in El Dorado, Ark. It centers around two shyster waiters named Blueboy Harris (St. Jacques) and Dave Green (Thomas) who set up a numbers racket in the small Arkansas town.
Soon, they are raking in the money until a local white crime boss; Luis Antoine (the late Gilbert Green) gets wind of their money-making scheme and attempts to close the book on Blueboy and Dave for good.
Not only is “Book of Numbers” a classic and a must have for blaxploitation movie lovers, but the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack featuring folk/blues musicians Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee is a keeper too.