Vereen achieved international stardom in the blockbuster TV miniseries, "Roots" (1977), playing Chicken George.
"Every African-American wanted to be in this production," he told Rocca. "I went to my agent and I said, 'I wanna do this.' He said, 'Ben, come on, get serious. You're a song-and-dance man. They're not gonna hire you.'" But after an appearance in Savannah, Georgia, doing his act about vaudeville star Bert Williams, Vereen was visited by Stan Margulies, "Roots"' executive producer, who said, "I want you to be my Chicken George."
"I didn't know who Chicken George was. I don't care if I was the guy on the ship goin', 'Let me outta here, let me outta here!' I was gonna be on 'Roots'!"