Denzel Washington, who’s up for a best-actor Oscar this year for “Fences” (his sixth overall nomination), has become one of Hollywood’s most esteemed actors. But Washington’s early acting career featured several TV appearances, like these five:
WILMA (1977) In this TV movie about Olympic champion Wilma Rudolph, Washington played Robert Eldridge, her high school sweetheart and second husband. (He met his future wife, Pauletta Pearson, on the movie’s set.)
FLESH & BLOOD (1979) In this miniseries adaptation of Pete Hamill’s novel, Washington played a friend of the main character (played by Tom Berenger), a boxer with a dark secret.
ST. ELSEWHERE (1982-86) Washington’s only series starring role was on the innovative, Boston-set medical drama. He played the confident, arrogant Dr. Philip Chandler, who ultimately quit the medical profession.
LICENSE TO KILL (1984) In this TV movie, Washington had a prominent role as an inexperienced prosecutor trying to win a manslaughter charge against a businessman (Don Murray) who accidentally killed a girl while driving drunk.
THE GEORGE MCKENNA STORY (1986) In this TV movie, Washington starred as the title character, the new principal of a tough Los Angeles high school. (It was directed by his “St. Elsewhere” colleague Eric Laneuville.)