After two decades of lead role on Law & Order: SVU, the 64-year-old rapper Ice-T has now officially become the longest-running male actor ever in a live-action American television series. On Tuesday, the TV legend celebrated his accomplishment with a picture, accompanied by a simple and inspiring message on Twitter:
For context, NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, which first aired in 1999, is (since 2019) the longest-running primetime live-action series in American history, with 24 seasons so far. Ice-T, who joined as Sergeant Fin Tutuola in 2001, played a critical role in the survival of the series after the lead male actor Christopher Meloni abruptly left the show in 2011. According to Executive Director Dick Wolf, Ice-T was the first one to display courage during the confused drama that ensued at the studio after Meloni’s departure. As a result, Ice-T was given the second most important role in the series after Captain Olivia Benson and has remained a lead actor ever since.
But his rise to prominence on the television was far from a given. After securing his first notable roles in the early-‘90s, the West Coast rap artist was originally intended only to have a four-episode arc in the series, but became so popular that he was given a permanent role shortly after. In 2017, Ice-T already broke the record for the longest-running Black character on television. The actor has had 456 episodes to his name.
Ice-T, an African American boomer was born Tracy L. Marrow in New Jersey in 1958, but moved to the West Coast as a young adult. After a couple of years in the U.S. Army, he was discharged from service and gained fame in rapping shortly afterwards. He is best known for singing the title song for the 1988-film “Colors”, which became an instant hit as a single. While he has not been active in the public music market for decades, Ice-T told HipHopDX that he had recently established a new recording studio with Treach from Naughty By Nature in his home state of New Jersey. Ice-T has released some singles in recent years, but the status of any possible upcoming albums is still unknown.