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Overview (2)

Date of Birth 15 April 1918Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Date of Death 6 February 1994Buffalo, New York, USA  (pancreatic cancer)

Mini Bio (1)

Hilda Simms was born Hilda Moses in Minneapolis, Minnesota, one of nine children. Prior to becoming an actress, Hilda planned to enter the teaching profession. Hilda and enrolled at the University of Minnesota and engaged in her studies until lack of funds forced her abandon them. She relocated to New York, acting in radio dramas and becoming a member of the American Negro Theater, where she gained professional acting experience. As a member of this noted ensemble, Hilda worked on sound effects, props and publicity while learning her new craft. It was in New York that she met and married William Simms and adopted his surname.

Her marriage to Simms was a short-lived one but in 1943, two years after divorcing him, Hilda made her debut in the title role of Philip Yordan's play, "Anna Lucasta". Yordan had originally written "Ana Lucasta" for an all-white cast but the show made a huge splash when the American Negro Theater produced it. Hilda won the title role, a beautiful young woman struggling to regain her respectability and return to her family after falling into a life of prostitution. The production moved to Broadway in 1944 where Anna Lucasta became one of the early dramas featuring African American actors in work that explored themes un-related to race. Hilda found herself among a distinguished company of black thespians including "Rosetta LeNoire", Canada Lee, "Frederick O'Neal", Alice Childress and Earle Hyman. The play became the hit of the season and the image of the stunning actress even graced the cover on Life Magazine.

When the play toured abroad, Hilda continued playing in Anna Lucasta while enjoying a singing career in Paris nightclubs under the name Julie Riccardo. During the British tour of the play in 1947, Hilda met and married veteran actor Richard Angarola. The couple returned to the States in the 1950s and Simms embarked on a brief film career. Her first role was as co-star to heavy-weight boxing champion Joe Louis. She played the boxer's wife in The Joe Louis Story (1953). Her only other movie role was that of the hatcheck girl in 1954s _Black Widow_. "Anna Lucasta" went on to be filmed twice, first as an all white production in 1949 with Paulette Goddard and Broderick Crawford and in 1958 with Eartha Kitt and Sammy Davis Jr.. Earle Hyman refused to work on the film because he considered Hilda the only Anna Lucasta (1958).

In the 1950s, Hilda became a victim of the Hollywood blacklist. The Department of Justice denied her passport in 1955 and canceled her scheduled 14-week USO tour of the Armed Forces in Europe. It was ironic since Hilda had entertained troops and made War Bond tours during World War II. The Defense Department decision was based on speculation about her affiliation with the Communist Party in the late 1930s and early 1940s. The decision caused her dozens of lost opportunities and any chance of a film career evaporated. In 1960, Hilda penned an article titled "I'm No Benedict Arnold," which told her side of the story.

Hilda continued her stage career in productions of The Cool World, Tambourines to Glory as well as a revival of The Madwoman of Chaillot. She also was a regular in the television series _The Nurses_ and hosted her own radio show, Ladies Day, on New York's WOV. She also became an active participant in political movements and served as the Creative Arts Director for the New York State Human Rights Commission. Her commitment to the project brought discrimination against black actors to the public attention and helped usher in better film roles for luminary African American actors of the era. She also fulfilled her original dream of becoming a teacher and earned a master's degree in education from the City College of New York. Hilda worked for drug treatment programs and led a production life until her death in Buffalo, New York at the age of seventy-five from pancreatic cancer. The tragedy of Hilda's life is that politics and the racism of the time prevented the world from discovering this fabulous woman.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Digital Diva

Spouse (1)

Richard Angerolla (20 September 1948 - ?)

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