Dynamic, African American leading actor of the "blaxploitation" era of the early 70's, Marshall's reputation as a Shakespearean-trained actor began in 1952 in the filmLydia Bailey. His performance eventually landed him in Demetrius and the Gladiators a year later. Marshall spent the next few years in supporting roles in films including, To Trap a Spy, until he joined an all star cast including Tony Curtis and Henry Fonda for 20th Century Fox's true story thriller, The Boston Strangler, which gave him notice for the blaxploitation films that were beginning. He signed a three year contract with American International Pictures and took the title role in the hit vampire film, Blacula, a role that finally made Marshall a star and his most memorable performance. He reprised the role a year later for Scream Blacula, Scream and the lead role as the Exorcist in the black film Abby. He didn't work again until 1977 when he joined the all star cast for Robert Aldrich'sTwilight's Last Gleaming and also starred in the lead role in the television version of Othello. Before his early retirement in the 90's, Marshall was recognized on TV as the King of Cartoons in Pee Wee's Playhouse (1987-1991) with his hugely popular catchphrase "Let...the cartoooon...begin!" Marshall spent his later years in smaller roles (1993-1996) and retirement until his death on June 11, 2003 of a long battle with Alzheimer's disease and diabetes.