James McEachin, a former police officer for the Hackensack
Police Department (New Jersey) is an African-American actor and award-winning author most notably noted for his role as the
first black man to have his own show on NBC called TENAFLY, and for his many character roles such as portraying police lieutenant
Brock in the Perry Mason television movie series.
As a young man, James McEachin served in the U.S. Army
before, and then during the Korean War. Serving in King Company, he was wounded (nearly fatally) in an ambush and left for
dead. He was rescued by a young blond boy who carried him for two days and many miles over difficult terrain and nearby gunfire
to safety before disappearing from McEachin's life forever. McEachin was one of only two soldiers to survive the ambush.
He was discharged from the Army as a corporal. He was awarded both the Purple Heart and Silver Star in
2005 by California Congressman David Dreier after McEachin participated in a Veterans History Project interview given by Dreier's
office and in which they discovered McEachin had no copies of his own military records. Dreier's office quickly traced
the records and notified McEachin of the Silver Star commendation and awarding him all seven of his medals of valor shortly
thereafter and fifty years after his service.
Following his military career McEachin dabbled in civil
service as first a fireman and then a police officer. In 1953, he was a police officer for the Hackensack
Police Department (New Jersey) before he moved to California and became a record producer. Known as Jimmy Mack in the industry,
he worked with young artists like Otis Redding and went on to produce The Fury's. He began his acting career shortly after,
and was signed by Universal as a contract actor in the 1960s. He was regularly cast in professional, "solid citizen"
occupational roles, such as a lawyer or a police commander, guesting on numerous series such as Hawaii Five-O, Mannix, and
Dragnet. He played the dee-jay Sweet Al Monty in Play Misty for Me (1971) with Clint Eastwood. In 1973, McEachin starred as
Harry Tenafly, the title character in Tenafly, a short-lived detective series about a police officer turned private detective
who relied on his wits and hard work, rather than guns and fistfights.
While continuing to guest star in many television series
and appearing in several feature-length films, McEachin landed his most memorable role, that of police lieutenant Brock in
the 1986 television movie Perry Mason: The Case of the Notorious Nun. He would reprise this role in more than a dozen Perry
Mason telemovies, appearing opposite the late Raymond Burr.
In the 1990s, McEachin semi-retired from acting to
pursue a writing career. His first work was a military history of the court-martial of 63 black American soldiers during the
First World War, titled Farewell to the Mockingbirds (1995), which won the 1998 Benjamin Franklin
Award. His next works, mainly fiction novels, included The Heroin Factor (1999), Say
Goodnight to the Boys in Blue (2000), The Great Canis Lupus (2001), and Tell
me a Tale: A Novel of the Old South (2003). McEachin also published Pebbles in the Roadway
in (2003), a collection of short stories and essays which the author describes as "a philosophical view of America and
Americans." In (2005) McEachin produced the award-winning audio book VOICES: A Tribute to the American Veteran.
In 2001, McEachin received the Distinguished Achievement
Award from Morgan State University. In 2005, he became an Army Reserve Ambassador, this distinction carries the protocol of
a two-star general.
According to the book description of The
Great Canis Lupus, “The life and times of Blood, the alpha wolf. Set in the late s, a black cowboy finds
himself smack-dab in the middle of ancient China. Instead of facing cowboys n Indians, Its neer-do-wellers and wolves.”
James McEachin said of Voices: A Tribute
to the American Veteran, “The initial idea for this recording came about when, at the behest of the U.S.
Department of Defense, I was touring the country delivering speeches on behalf of Korean War veterans. The idea fell into
full fruition when, along with Ed McMahon and singer Randy Travis, I was asked to narrate a piece at the MCI Center in Washington,
The response was overwhelming and it took me back to
earlier in the day when I had the opportunity to visit Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland and spoke with some of our young
servicemen and women who had been wounded in Operation Iraqi Freedom. As a Purple Heart veteran, I understood what they were
going through; moreover I was struck by their courage and dedication, and was reminded that, like all veterans, their only
aim is to serve this country - and to serve it without reservation. When I returned home, I thought of writing and recording
a tribute to all veterans. The result is VOICES: A Tribute to the American Veteran.
Voices is not designed to be an endorsement of any
political party. The sole purpose of this offering is to pay tribute to those who have served and are now serving this nation.
It is to honor those who have fought and died for the principles of freedom that we, as Americans, so enjoy today.”
Publisher’s Weekly said of Farewell
to the Mockingbirds, “Inspired by the true story of the all-black, all-volunteer 24th Infantry Regiment,
Company K, McEachin's second novel (after Tell Me a Tale) is a riveting account of one of the most disgraceful chapters
in American military history. In 1917 the U.S. entered WWI--but while troops were heading to France, another war was about
to erupt in Texas. The men of the 24th Infantry Regiment (Colored) were all volunteers, and Company K was the best outfit
in the regiment, thanks largely to the leadership and discipline of Sgt. Obie McLellan. Yet the segregated Army sent the unit
to a post near Houston noted for its miserable conditions. When the Houston police ignited a race riot in town, leaving many
black soldiers dead, wounded or in jail, McLellan led the enraged men of Company K in a revolt against their continual mistreatment
from the police and their white officers. Company K armed itself and marched into Houston to even the score and rescue their
jailed comrades. The resulting court-martial produced the largest mass trial in U.S. military history: more than 100 black
soldiers were charged with murder, mutiny and other capital crimes. To appease angry Southerners, the Army promised convictions
and executions; perjury, blackmail, coercion and flagrant disregard for the Constitution made a mockery of military justice.
McEachin's story is a tragic commentary made even more compelling by his astute portrayal of the soldiers (called mockingbirds
by the prosecution) and officers involved. Despite occasionally overwrought prose, he brings the fate of Company K hauntingly
to life. (Sept.) FYI: Film and TV actor McEachin received his basic military training with Company K, 24th U.S. Infantry Regiment
during the Korean War.”
One reader of Farewell to the Mockingbirds
said, “The actor James McEachin has enjoyed a fine second career as a novelist. This, his second novel,
is an incredibly moving book about an unforgettable, yet forgotten, incident in our past. In 1917 the US Army sent a regiment
of black soldiers to Houston, Texas. As could have been expected, trouble eventually occurred. Big trouble. A riot between
white Houston police and the black soldiers which resulted in the deaths of several people. The result was the largest murder
trial in American history, followed by the largest mass execution. This is an emotional book, written in the heat of righteous
anger. But, Mr. McEachin never allows his obvious sympathies for the soldiers to descend into maudlin sentimentalism. The
soldiers are fully rounded men, often troubled and flawed. Their actions are not made out to be more noble than they were.
It is a book that reminds us of how far we have come in America, and how far we have to go.”
Booklist said of Say Goodnight to the Boys
In Blue, “In the shadow of New York City, the calm and placid setting of Elton Head, New Jersey, in the
1950s provides deceptive cover for the dark underside of human nature. On the surface, the night shift of the police department
is preoccupied with the typical work of law enforcement in a small town, but below the surface personal demons eat at the
local boys in blue. On a single December night, the darker elements, starting with the typical clout and corruption and advancing
to a literal beast, will test the mettle and humanity of the night-shift personnel: Scandinavian-born Danny Carlsson, with
more American pride and idealism than the locals; Dempsey O. McShayne, the widowed desk sergeant who provides the moral weight
and support to the men; and a drunken outcast who is befriended by no one other than Danny. In fact, Danny proves the only
source of hope for the tragic deception and ironic judgment to be rendered against the boys in blue.”