This distinguished-looking fellow is Dr. Vivian Thomas. He was instrumental in some of the most important medical discoveries of the twentieth century, not the least of which was his part in the very first successful surgery performed on the human heart - which up until then was considered impossible.
The reason I bring him up is because it occurs to me, I saw another movie worth mentioning lately. It's an HBO made-for-TV flick called Something The Lord Made, and it stars (above-par rapper turned above-par actor) Mos Def and (the bad guy from Die Hard) Alan Rickman.
Def plays Vivian Thomas, and he's excellent in it. What's a little remarkable about Mos Def is he plays various characters of various qualities, but even when he's playing an idiot or a jerk - he does a wonderful job at it, but - he still seems so cool. I'm not talking John Travolta cool or even John Cusack cool - it's... why is Harrison Ford the first guy who comes to mind? Anyway - it works.
The movie is intensely interesting, totally touching and highlights the crushing hardships Thomas endured in pursuit of doing what he loved.
For years, Thomas - who had no official medical training - did the work of a surgical technician, but thanks to race relations being what they were at the time, he was categorized and paid as a janitor. Although Dr. Blalock (Rickman) performed that first cardiac surgery, he did it with Thomas standing on a box behind him, walking him through every step of the procedure.
It's a pretty remarkable story, and if it ever shows up on the tube in your neck of the woods, I highly suggest putting aside some time to give it a look.