Oliver Samuels (1948 - ) - The National Library of Jamaica

Oliver Samuels (1948 - )

Oliver Adolphus Samuels, actor and comedian was born November 4, 1948 in Harmony Hall, St. Mary. He grew up on a banana plantation where his father worked as a casual labourer and his mother sold items on the estate. His involvement in drama began in his childhood where, at the age of seven he and the other children on the plantation would sing and recite poetry on Friday nights.

Oliver’s life tells the story of a poor boy who made good. He fetched water from a river, he walked miles to and from school as early as age five. He helped his ailing mother in undertaking several chores around the home. He firmly maintains however, that he did not feel at all downtrodden because he was born in poverty. This was so because his mother would not encourage such feelings.  Her mantra was with hard work you could make it.

Mr. Samuels went to the Salvation Army School, Rose Bank Primary and then attended the high school in Highgate, after which he went to the Dinthill Technical High School. He said that his school career at Dinthill offered no scope for the development of his innate dramatic creativity.

After school he worked as a storekeeper at the Orange River Agricultural Station and then moved to Kingston with the encouragement of his friends. He landed a clerical job at the Water Commission and then took a job in proof-reading at the Gleaner Company, where he stayed for only one day.

After failing in his attempt to contact well-known theatre personalities, he enrolled in the Jamaica Theatre School from 1971 to1973. While at the University he did odd jobs to earn his keep.

During his three years at the Jamaica Theatre School, Oliver participated in various productions. His first play was “A Raisin in the Sun”, in which he was a voice off stage. His role as “the coolie” in the play “Servant of Two Masters” had the Gleaner critic, the late Henry Milner commenting that he was “labouring under a misconception”. This statement made Mr. Samuels even more determined to prove the critic wrong and it also formed the basis of his inspiration to strive for perfection. His popularity however increased when he appeared in his first pantomime “Music Boy”. Even Mr. Milner had nothing bad to say about Oliver’s character “Moon Drops”. In fact, Oliver went on to become one of his favourite actors, getting constant good reviews. Role after role followed and Oliver Samuels soon became a household name.

Oliver is an avid reader in politics, social affairs and religion. He has appeared in no fewer than 13 pantomimes playing major roles. He has also appeared in more than 30 other productions. Some of his pantomime appearances include “Music Boy”, “Queenie’s Daughter”, “Dickance for Fippance”, “Hail Columbus”, “The Witch”, “Johnny Reggae”, “Ginneral B”, “The Pirate Princess”, “Trash”, “The Hon. All Purpose” and “The Dancing Princess”.

He has also appeared in overseas productions such as “The Fight Against Slavery”, the British Broadcasting Corporation’s television series aired in 1974. There were other BBC productions such as “My Father Son Son Johnson”, “Chef” and “Brothers and Sisters”.

Oliver attained another zenith in his very funny television series, “Oliver”, “Oliver at Large” and “Large and in Charge”. This series established him as one of Jamaica’s actor of comedy. An album with the well-known single “Oliver Yu Large” was also produced and has done well on the local and overseas market.

Oliver Samuels more recently appeared in the soap opera “Royal Palm Estate” produced by Lennie Little-White. He appeared as “Son-Son”. He has also appeared in one Italian and two German films.

Presently Oliver works at Mack D’s Auto Sales and Rentals where he is the Marketing and Public Relations Manager. He is also a Director in the company.

Mr. Samuels has five children, 3 boys and twin daughters. He recently adopted another daughter who is now in high school.