Sam Greenlee

Sam Greenlee

Over the course of his career, Sam Greenlee has been a novelist, activist, poet, screenwriter, actor, journalist, teacher, All-American middle-distance runner, martial artist, and talk show host. Born in Chicago on July 13, 1930, Greenlee attended Chicago public schools. At age fifteen, Greenlee participated in his first sit-in and walked in his first picket line; his social activism continues to this day. In 1952, Greenlee received his B.S. in political science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. After two years’ service as an infantry Lieutenant, Greenlee entered graduate school at the University of Chicago, studying international relations from 1954 to 1957. In 1957, he began an eight-year career with the Foreign Services Officer, serving in Iraq, East Pakistan, Indonesia, and Greece, and in 1959, was awarded the Meritorious Service Award for bravery during the Baghdad revolution of July 14, 1958; the civilian equivalent of the army’s Distinguished Service Cross. Greenlee’s first and most well-known novel, The Spook Who Sat by the Door was written in 1966, and first published in London in 1969 after unanimous rejection in the United States. It was published in the U.S. in 1970 by Bantam Books, and more recently by Wayne State University Press. This prize-winning, best-selling novel quickly became an underground favorite for its fictionalization of an urban-based war for African American liberation. Greenlee co-wrote the screenplay adaptation of the novel with Melvin Clay and was Co-Producer and full partner of Co-Producer-Director, Ivan Dixon, the film was largely funded by independent, predominately, Black investors The Spook Who Sat by the Door was an overnight success when it was released and was then unexpectedly taken out of distribution. Greenlee alleges that the film was suppressed by the FBI in collusion with its distributor, United Artists. Baghdad Blues followed The Spook Who Sat by the Door and continued Sam Greenlee's determination to expose injustice and the political corruption that feeds oppression domestically and internationally. Baghdad Blues was previously published by Bantam Books in 1976. Throughout his life, Sam also wrote several books of poetry and plays.
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