It is never too late or too soon to pay tribute to an artist whose career has left a remarkable record and etched an imperishable legacy. Such is the case with Roger Robinson, the Tony Award- winning actor who made his transition to that eternal stage Sept. 26 in Escondido, Ca., because of heart complications. He was 78.

Many theatergoers, recalling Robinson’s extraordinary talent, will cite his role as Bynum Walker in “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,” as among his most commanding performances. But there are many to choose from, particularly in his devotion to the works of August Wilson.

Born May 2, 1940, in Seattle, Wash., Robinson attended Bellevue High School and graduated from the school in 1958. Eager to get his acting career going, he moved to Los Angeles in 1959 before enlisting in the Navy. He completed his basic training at the San Diego Navy Base and was then sent to the Naval School of Music. Subsequently, after mastering the oboe and tenor saxophone, he became a member of the Third Naval District Band of Brooklyn.

In 1963, while still in the Navy, he began studying acting with Lloyd Richards, who would later direct him on Broadway in Wilson’s plays. He made his debut onstage as a soldier in the off-Broadway production of “A Walk in Darkness.” He was no longer in the Navy when he took an acting role in a summer stock theater in Cape May, N.J.

Robinson made his Broadway debut in 1969 in “Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie?” that launched the career of Al Pacino. Among his other Broadway appearances were “The Miser,” “The Iceman Cometh,” James Baldwin’s “Amen Corner,” Ron Milner “Who’s Got His Own” and Wilson’s “Seven Guitars,” in which he earned his first Tony nomination. He starred in “Drowning Crow,” a play by Regina Taylor and inspired by Chekhov’s “The Seagull,” which also featured Alfre Woodard and Anthony Mackie.

One of the least known facts about Robinson is that he has been to Cuba and was asked to direct “Fresa & Chocolate” (“Strawberry and Chocolate”). During an interview, he recalled some of his Cuban memories. “I was there in ’96 and ’97,” he said. “Since Raúl Castro has taken over, things have relaxed somewhat. The average salary is still $22 a month. You are assigned work, too. You don’t get to choose. The state very tightly regulates that. They also regulate where people can live. You can’t just move into Havana from the countryside. You have to have permission to move. They control the population that way. I bought a lot of stuff on the black market when I was there. The tourist stores have everything. The average Cuban can’t go there. They’re paid in Cuban pesos, but tourists have what they call the ‘convertible peso,’ which is equal to the dollar. That’s the only thing that we’re legally allowed to have.”

Fluent in Spanish, Robinson was also asked to expound on the problems facing gays in Cuba. “Anybody could say, ‘My neighbor is gay.’ These people would be sent to be reeducated in concentration camps. Reinaldo Arenas, who wrote ‘Before Night Falls,’ ended up in El Morro, a famous prison in Havana. If you were deemed to be gay or an intellectual, you were sent for reeducation in these camps where they harvested sugarcane. I likened it to the McCarthy era in the United States. There was this campaign of fear in which people could name names and dispose of enemies.”

In 2009, Robinson won the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play for the revival of Wilson’s “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.” According to The New York Times review, Robinson’s performance is “marvelously centered,” in which Bynum finds himself in a dream state where each day is magnified, sparrows are “big as eagles.” Then, with new eyes, sees the world restored to its normal proportions. Wilson is at his imaginative best in this second of his chronological 10 plays depicting a century of American history, and in Robinson he found a perfect, mystical man to convey the times with mirth and myth.

When asked about portraying the differing characters from Wilson’s playbook, Robinson told a reporter, “It’s like a symphony—every note, every word has to be where August wrote it. It’s precise. It calls for tremendous concentration, but it’s also fun. It’s like a challenge; every night you step out there to do it and hit those notes with everybody. It’s a wonderful experience. I really am happy that I am an actor.”

Robinson had more than 30 off-Broadway roles to his credit, including one as Becker in the London National Theatre production of “Jitney,” his final lap with Wilson. But it was not his final stage performance. That occurred in the off-Broadway production of James Anthony Tyler’s “Some Old Black Man,” where he shares the stage and contention with Wendell Pierce.

Among his numerous awards is the Richard Seff Award, presented annually by Actors’ Equity Foundation to an actor 50 years of age or older for performance in a supporting role in a Broadway or off-Broadway production. This award was a first for an African-American actor.

Along with his stage resume, Robinson’s television and film credits are equally impressive, with such shows as “Ironside, “Starsky and Hutch,” “The Jeffersons,” “A Man Called Hawk,” starring Avery Brooks, “Law & Order” and many others. On the short list of his films are “Preaching to the Choir,” “Wedding Daze,” “Willie Dynamite,” “The Pack,” “Newman’s Law” and “Brother to Brother,” in which he garnered an LA Outfest Grand Jury Award for outstanding actor in a feature film and a nomination for the Independent Spirit Award.

Before the onset of illness, he had recently completed “Foreclosure,” an independent film.