'Roc' actor Dutton saddened by murder of show's inspiration

John Wood fell and died after being punched Monday

  • Charles S. Dutton
Charles S. Dutton (Jemal Countess / Getty Images )
April 04, 2013|By Justin George, The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore actor Charles S. Dutton said the murder of John Wood, a retired city sanitation worker who was the inspiration behind the character Dutton played on the 1990s show “Roc,” was difficult to digest.

“I wasn’t expecting ever in a lifetime that John would go out that way,” Dutton told the Sun on Thursday.

Wood, 80, was killed Monday after police said he was in argument that resulted with him taking a punch that caused Wood to fall back and hit his head on a concrete step, which killed him. Police on Wednesday charged Lorenzo Thornton, 25, with second-degree murder. Wood’s wife said Thornton was a relative but she didn’t know him.

Wood’s life as a city garbage man with strong ethics who spent his spare time helping neighbors, brokering peace on the streets and advocating for the less fortunate, formed the basis of Dutton’s “Roc” character, who appeared on Fox for three seasons beginning in 1991.

“Without a doubt, he was definitely the inspiration for the show,” Dutton said. “The show took on its on its own life in the three seasons it stayed on and the 75 episodes that we did. But it was actually an easier task for me to play the character because I knew the inspiration was from a real person. I didn’t have to invent anything or imagine. The history was all there.”

Dutton, 62, grew up in the same Northeast Baltimore neighborhood as Wood and recalls him as a man everyone respected.

“I don’t know anyone from way back in the 1960s who didn’t like the man,” he said. “Even the gangster guys, his generation of gangster guys, the tough guys, had respect for him.”

Dutton, who spends his time producing and directing television shows, said he hopes to attend Wood’s funeral.

“I feel I owed him a huge favor because my meeting him generated that character for a short-lived time, a character on an iconic show in a black community,” he said.

A public viewing will take place from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on April 11 at Wilson Park Christian Community Church, 4629 York Road, Baltimore. A private viewing for family members will follow. A memorial service, which is open to the public, will begin at the church at 11 a.m.

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