Ben Vereen (born October 10, 1946, in Laurinburg, North Carolina) is an American actor, dancer, and singer who has appeared in numerous Broadway theatre shows. Vereen graduated from Manhattan's High School of Performing Arts.
He was nominated for a Tony Award for Jesus Christ Superstar in 1972 and won a Tony for his appearance in Pippin in 1973. Vereen appeared in the Broadway musical Wicked as the Wizard of Oz in 2005. Vereen has also performed in one-man shows and actively lectures on black history and inspirational topics.
He has also starred in numerous television programs and films. Notable film roles include song-and-dance men in Funny Lady and All That Jazz. He appeared on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episode, “Papa’s Got a Brand New Excuse", in which he played Will Smith's biological father. He starred in the television series, Tenspeed and Brown Shoe, but is probably best known for his role as "Chicken" George Moore in Roots. He also appeared as Mayor Ben ( a leopard ) on Zoobile Zoo.
According to the Fayetteville Observer of April 29, 2006, Vereen learned while applying for a passport in the late 1960s that he was adopted. His birth certificate revealed that his birth name