Actor, producer and director William Greaves has died at the age of 87.

The filmmaker passed away on Monday (25Aug14) in his native New York after suffering from a long illness.

Greaves began his career in entertainment as an actor with the American Negro Theatre, alongside fellow members Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier and appeared in films such as 1949's Lost Boundaries and 1974's Lost in the Stars.

He was also known for co-hosting and executive producing groundbreaking 1960s Tv news show Black Journal, which won him an Emmy Award in 1970.

He moved away from acting after becoming frustrated by the lack of opportunities for black stars and relocated to Canada, where he became a documentary-maker, covering topics including the civil rights movement and boxing great Muhammad Ali's 1971 championship bout against Joe Frazier, in a 1975 film titled Ali, the Fighter.

He also made the comedy Symbiopyschotaxiplasm: Take One, about a director facing a backlash from his cast and crew. The 1960s film was only released in 2005, but has since become a cult favourite.