When Roots was shown on TV in January, 1977, it was a landmark event. It was a 21 hour mini-series that traced author Alex Haley's family back to an African slave, Kunta Kinte, and told the story of his family's growth in America. The cast was spectacular and the drama held America's attention for the entire run. Chuck's character was slave owner, Tom Moore.
At age 16, Kunta Kinte's daughter, Kizzy (played by Leslie Uggams), is sold to Tom Moore. Soon after her arrival, he raped her and she bears her new master's son, who grows up to become fun-loving Chicken George (played by Ben Vereen). He was named Chicken George because of his ability to train and handle Tom Moore's fighting cocks. Kizzy never tells him that their master is his father. Tom offers Chicken George his freedom if they win a big fighting cock match. However, they did not win the match and Chicken George is sent off to England to settle a wager his master made. When Chicken George returns to America, 14 years later, the story picks up as they move toward freedom.
Chuck's role garnered him an Emmy nomination. Although he didn't win the award, he did win accolades for his portrayal of Tom Moore.