Harold Bradley, Jr.

Harold Bradley, Jr.
Date of birth (1929-10-13)October 13, 1929
Place of birth Chicago
Career information
Position(s) Guard
College Iowa
Career history
As player
1954–1956 Cleveland Browns
1958 Philadelphia Eagles
Career stats

Harold Willard Bradley, Jr. (October 13, 1929) is a former American football player and an Italian actor, singer, artist, and painter. He played college football at the University of Iowa and played four seasons in the NFL from 1954–1958. Harold Bradley Jr. later starred in over 25 Italian films as an actor and opened an art and music studio in Rome.[1]


Harold Bradley Jr. was born in Chicago, and grew up in the West Woodlawn neighborhood on Chicago's south side.[2] His father, Harold Bradley Sr., was one of 13 African-Americans to participate in the National Football League before World War II, playing for the Chicago Cardinals in 1928.[3] Like his father before him, Harold Bradley Jr. played football at Englewood High School in Chicago and enrolled at the University of Iowa after graduation.

University of Iowa

By joining the Hawkeye football team, Harold Bradley Jr. completed the first African-American father-son combination to play football for the University of Iowa; his father played for the Hawkeyes in 1926. Bradley Jr. was one of five African-Americans to play for the Hawkeye football team in 1950, when the team finished the season with a road game at the University of Miami. Bradley and his four African-American teammates, nicknamed the "Orange Bowl Five", became the first African-Americans to play at the historic Orange Bowl stadium, a contest won by Miami, 14-6.[4]

Bradley capped his Hawkeye football career by being named team MVP of the 1950 Iowa football team.[5] He graduated from Iowa in 1951 with a degree in fine arts.

Professional football

After leaving Iowa, Bradley served for three years in the U.S. Marines. He played football for a team called the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego Devil Dogs from 1951–1953, where he was discovered by a coach for the Cleveland Browns.[nb 1] Bradley then played three seasons for the Cleveland Browns from 1954–1956, winning NFL championships with the team in 1954 and 1955. He finished his pro football career with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1958.[7]

By playing four seasons of pro football in the 1950s, Bradley joined with his father to complete the first African-American father-son combination to ever play in the NFL.[6]

Artistic career, television host and movie roles

Bradley earned a scholarship in 1959 to study at the University for Foreigners of Perugia in Italy. He then opened an art studio in Rome named Folkstudio in 1962. During the day, Bradley used the studio to display his paintings while turning it into a jazz club in the evenings.[8] Several prominent musicians, including Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger, would go on to perform at Folkstudio.[9]

Bradley also broke into acting in 1960, landing a role the following year in the film Barabbas.[10] He would star in more than a dozen Italian films over the next seven years, mostly in the sword-and-sandal genre. Bradley's cinematic work during this time included notable roles in two 1965 films: Tucos in Sette contro tutti (Seven Rebel Gladiators)[11] and George Harris in La capanna dello zio Tom (Uncle Tom's Cabin).[12]

In 1968, Harold Bradley Jr. moved back to the United States after accepting a job as a curator for the Illinois Arts Council, in Chicago. He went on to teach history of education at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and work with the university's Center for Upgrading Education Services (CUES) in its extension projects with local Champaign schools. Later, he took on a posting at the Illinois State Board of Education, in Springfield, producing instructional and educational television.

During the 18 years he spent commuting between Champaign, Illinois and Springfield, Illinois he produced and hosted three prime-time public-affairs shows – Soul Side, Close-Up for the CBS affiliate and "People Beat" for the NBC affiliate. Race and intercultural issues were the main focus of his interviews.

During the next two decades, Bradley also made occasional appearances in movies and on television.

Bradley visited Italy in 1987 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Folkstudio, and he soon decided to take up permanent residence there. Since returning to Italy, Bradley has made a few more film appearances – mostly in Italian films and a small role in the movie Daylight, starring Sylvester Stallone.[13] He has also appeared on six albums of spiritual- and folk-inspired music.[8]

Personal life

Harold Bradley Jr. currently resides in Rome, Italy. He and his wife Hannelore have two daughters, Michaela and Lea, and a son, Oliver.


  1. Reference wrongly refers to the "San Diego Bulldogs" when in reality it is the MCRD San Diego Devil Dogs[6]

Special Collaboration

Lionel Hampton, Pete Seeger, Totò Torquati, Luca Casagrande, Annette Meriweather, Jho Jenkins, Tony Scott, Juliette Gréco, Gianni Morandi, Nanni Loy, Gordon Scott, Pina Cei, Mark Forest, Thomas Fritsch, John Kitzmiller, Alfredo Kraus, Eduardo Sola-Franco, Géza von Radványi, Anthony Quinn, Jack Palance, Elizabeth Taylor

Recognition and Prizes

Working History

Performing Artist


Television Series



Television Host

Special TV Appearance



  1. Harold Bradley Filmography
  2. Polk, Rev Robert L. Greene, Cheryll Y. (2008). Tight Little Island: Chicago's West Woodlawn Neighborhood, 1900–1950, in the Words of Its Inhabitants. Harold Bradley Jr on his father, Harold Sr. (Bronx, New York : CNG Editions). ISBN 978-0-97165-091-6.
  3. Harold Bradley Sr. Pro Football Reference
  4. African-Americans in Hawkeye Sports, 1895-1961
  5. Hawkeye Football Team MVPs
  6. 1 2 Piascik, Andy. (2009). Gridiron Gauntlet: The Story of the Men Who Integrated Pro Football, In Their Own Words. Harold Bradley Jr. p. 6-7, 171-180 (Taylor Trade Publishers).ISBN 978-1-58979-652-2.
  7. Harold Bradley Jr. Pro Football Reference
  8. 1 2 Biography of Italian Artist Harold Bradley
  9. Sheehy, Colleen J. (2009) Highway 61 Revisited: Bob Dylan's Road from Minnesota to the World. (Univ. of Minnesota Press) ISBN 0-81666-100-6.
  10. Harold Bradley Italian Filmography
  11. Seven Rebel Gladiators (1965)
  12. Uncle Tom's Cabin (1965)
  13. Daylight (1996)


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