On April 27, 1944, singer ‘Cuba’ Gooding Sr was born to Dudley MacDonald Gooding and Addie Alston in the Bronx.
Dudley is said to have emigrated from Barbados to Cuba to escape servitude in 1936. Able to speak seven languages, Dudley was also a Pan-African advocate dedicated to Marcus Mosiah Garvey. It is his activism related to the Garvey movement which led to the murder of his Cuban love.
He reportedly married a native Cuban while on the Spanish island promising her on her death bed that he will name his first son Cuba in her memory.
Gooding Sr.’s father then moved to Harlem in 1937 becoming a taxi driver in Manhattan. He met and married Addie Alston. They lived in the Bronx and together had a son, Cuba.
Dudley MacDonald Gooding died when Cuba was just 11 years old.
Cuba Gooding Sr added the senior to his name upon his son’s birth also called Cuba. Gooding Sr became the lead singer of the 70s soul group Main Ingredient.
Following the death of front man Donald McPherson in 1971, Gooding Sr became front man for the Main Ingredient which also had Tony Sylvester and Luther Simmons Jr as members.
He found fame fast as a blues and soul singer amassing celebrity status and being nationally celebrated.
Gooding Sr proved to be the main ingredient steering the group to garner several gold singles, including “Just Don’t Want to Be Lonely,” “Happiness is Just Around the Bend,” “Rolling Down a Mountainside” “Superwoman,” “Spinning Around, I Must be falling In Love,” “Summer Breeze,” “I’m So Proud” and their highest-charting hit with 1972’s “Everybody Plays the Fool.”
The Main Ingredient led by Cuba Gooding joined the ranks of the most elite rhythm & blues groups — the Stylistics, the Intruders, Chi-lites, Persuaders, Delphonics, Spinners, O’Jays, the Manhattans and others getting booked to perform at the Apollo Theater and other New York hot-spots.
Music fans loved Gooding’s impeccable and distinctive vocal delivery that defined the group. He broke from the group to produce two albums which although well received wasn’t a commercial success prompting him to make a return to the The Main Ingredient two years later.
At age 22, Cuba married singer Shirley Sullivan moving to California where the “senior” was added to his name.
Gooding Sr died one week before his 73rd birthday in Los Angeles, California on April 20. His body was slumped over the wheel of his Jaguar but no foul play was suspected. His death was ruled as being from natural causes.
Gooding Sr is also remembered for being father of two celebrated Hollywood thespians — Cuba Jr., his Academy Award-winning son and Omar, an equally accomplished actor who received critical acclaim debuting in the film “Baby Boy.”
Cuba Jr. in an interview noted as a child he enjoyed watching his father work and was proud of his celebrity. He spoke nostalgically about how his father often encouraged him to join him on-stage.
Cuba Jr., the senior’s first son quickly emerged a star after debuting as an actor in the movie “Boyz in the Hood.” He won an Academy Award for his supporting role in the film “Jerry McGuire” and emerged a box-office success.
His other notable films include Jerry Maguire, Boyz n the Hood, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, As Good as It Gets, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, American Gangster, Men of Honor, Losing Isaiah, Selma and A Few Good Men.
Continuing the Gooding tradition is Tommy, a musician and April, an actress and comedian.