He's mostly known for his ensemble work in the popular sitcom, Hogan's Heroes. Ironically, it was that show which set his promising career off course. The public stereotyped him as the role of the POW radio technician that he played in that silly comedy, and never realized his strong dramatic skills that made him a working actor in the first place.
All one has to do is to see his work in the Twilight Zone episodes, The Big Tall Wish and I am the Night - Color Me Black to see the true talent that he possessed. And even then, those performances don't cut through the surface of this wonderful talent.
To really see Ivan Dixon at the top of his game, one needs to watch the sadly overlooked film, Nothing But A Man and the made-for- television movie, The Final War Of Olly Winter to truly grasp the subtle power and emotion that he could bring to a role.
His best work dealt with social injustice and while the more famous Sidney Poitier also dabbled in those same themes, it was the lower budget, lesser known films of Ivan Dixon that pack the truly raw emotional punch.