Joel McGhee Jr.
January 14, 1919
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
|Died||August 15, 1996 (aged 77)|
New York City, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor, singer, songwriter|
Joe Seneca (January 14, 1919 – August 15, 1996) was an American actor, singer, and songwriter. He is best known for Willie Brown in Crossroads (1986), Dr. Meadows in The Blob (1988), and Dr. Hanes in The Cosby Show.
Seneca was born Joel Seneca McGhee, Jr. in Cleveland, Ohio. Before his acting career, he belonged to the R&B singing group The Three Riffs, which was active from the late 1940s and performed at upscale supper clubs in New York City. He was also a songwriter and had big hits with "Talk to Me", sung by Little Willie John, and "Break It to Me Gently," which was a smash hit by Brenda Lee in 1962 and by Juice Newton in 1982.
In the 1982 film, The Verdict, Seneca plays the supporting role of Dr. Thompson, a small-town women's hospital physician brought in by attorney Frank Galvin (Paul Newman) to support his belief that two famous doctors' incompetence left his client alive but in a coma. Arguably his most well-known roles are that of bluesman Willie Brown in Crossroads (1986) and Dr. Meddows in The Blob (1988), the evil head of a government team sent to contain the title creature.
Seneca also made multiple appearances on The Cosby Show as Hillman President Dr. Zachariah J. Hanes. He also played Alvin Newcastle, a man suffering from Alzheimer's disease, on an episode of The Golden Girls titled "Old Friends". Seneca appeared in Spike Lee's School Daze as Mission College President McPherson.
Seneca played Eddie Haynes on Matlock in the May 9, 1989 episode "The Blues Singer." He later played a murder witness in the October 13, 1993 Law & Order episode "Profile."
Seneca appeared in Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel" music video in 1987.
Seneca played "Blind Otis Lemon", based on Muddy Waters, a homeless blues legend who gets one last chance to sing and play in a club the night before an operation that may leave him deaf, on Doogie Howser, M.D., season 2 episode 6, "Doogie Sings the Blues", October 17, 1990.
He died from coronary arrest or asthma August 15, 1996 at the age of 77. He was married to his wife, Betty Seneca, until his death. 
|1974||The Taking of Pelham One Two Three||Police Sergeant|
|1979||The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh||Mr. Sweets|
|1979||Kramer vs. Kramer||Partygoer #6|
|1982||The Verdict||Dr. Thompson|
|1984||The Evil That Men Do||Santiago|
|1985||Heart of the Garden|
|1987||Moments Without Proper Names|
|1988||School Daze||President McPherson|
|1988||The Blob||Dr. Meddows|
|1989||Matlock||"The Blues Singer"|
|1990||Mo' Better Blues||Big Stop's Friend|
|1991||Mississippi Masala||Williben Williams|
|1993||The Saint of Fort Washington||Spits|
|1996||A Time to Kill||Reverend Isaiah Street|