“Warrior of Comedy” Charlie Hill has walked on at 61.
PHOTO Courtesy: Thosh Collins
ONEIDA INDIAN RESERVATION — Oneida comedian Charlie Hill walked on early Monday morning, December 30, after a courageous year-long fight with cancer at the Anna John Nursing Home in Oneida, Wisconsin, which near his Wisconsin home. He was 62.
Hill is one of the Indian country’s favorite comedians. He went to Hollywood after attending the University of Wisconsin to make it in show business. He had the good fortune to meet comedians Richard Pryor and David Letterman while performing at The Comedy Store in Hollywood. Hill became the first American Indian comedy to appear on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.” He later became a writer for the “Roseanne” comedy hit show.
“His comedy will be sorely missed,” commented his brother, Rick Hill, to the Native News Online on Monday afternoon. “He healed a lot of hearts with his comedy by telling people the truth in a humorous way.”
“Charlie Hill left us today. This is a sentence I never wanted to write or say. He was a mountain of a man. He was unafraid to strike down the many obstacles that prevented Native Americans from enjoying human dignity. With humor, he made us laugh. With his courage, he made us stand tall. He was a mountain that we so often speak about. I shall miss Charlie and I will keep his memory alive,”
commented Dennis Banks, the co-founder of the American Indian Movement, who is currently in Japan.
American Indian actress Kateri Walker, a tribal citizen of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan, issued these comments upon hearing the news of Hill’s death: “Charlie Hill was the trailblazer for American Indians in mainstream comedy. Not only did he stick his foot in the door, he opened it for all Native comedians to follow. I will miss my dear friend, Charlie Hill: His soft laughter, rolling into a strong thunder, as something funny crossed his mind. I will also miss his incredible harmonica playing.”
“Today, tears fall for our Warrior of Comedy. I extend my sincere condolences to the entire Hill family, and all of Charlie Hill’s friends. We have lost an American Indian icon,”
– Kateri Walker
He is survived by his wife, Lenora, two daughters, two sons and a grandchild.
A funeral ceremony will be held on Friday, January 3, 2014, at 10:00 am – CST at the Ryan Funeral Home, located at 305 North Tenth Street, De Pere, Wisconsin.
There will be no public showing prior to the ceremony.
UPDATED: Monday, December 30, 2013, 6:20 pm – EST