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Beah Richards Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (3)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trivia (8)  | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (3)

Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, USA
Died in Vicksburg, Mississippi, USA  (emphysema)
Birth NameBeulah Elizabeth Richardson

Mini Bio (1)

Beah Richards left her native Vicksburg, Mississippi, for New York City in 1950. She would not acquire a significant role on stage until 1955, when she appeared in the off-Broadway show "Take A Giant Step" convincingly portraying an 84-year-old grandmother without using theatrical makeup. In 1962 she appeared in writer James Baldwin's "The Amen Corner" directed by noted actor/director/activist Frank Silvera, who told Richards "Don't act, just be." She credited Silvera with helping her further develop the subtlety and quiet dignity that distinguished all of her performances.

A prolific actress, poet and playwright, her first authored play was "All's Well that Ends" that delved into the issues of racial segregation. Always ahead of her time, she defined herself as "Black" when the term "Negro" was the preferred ethnic/racial label of Black Americans. Richards would bring her salutary satisfaction with being "Black" and her immense acting talents to the role of the peacemaking mother in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), a role for which she was nominated for an Oscar. Additionally, she appeared in "Purlie Victorious" by Ossie Davis and "The Little Foxes" by Lillian Hellman. In 1988 she won an Emmy Award for her performance in Frank's Place (1987). Although stricken with emphysema, she delivered a tour-de-force performance on the ABC legal drama The Practice (1997) in 2000; she was awarded an Emmy Award for her performance only a few days before her death--a fitting coda to an exemplary life and career.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: L. J. Allen-2

Spouse (1)

Hugh Harrell Jr. (August 1962 - 1966) ( divorced)

Trivia (8)

Died just days after receiving Emmy award for The Practice (1997), which was accepted for her by LisaGay Hamilton and delivered to Vicksburg.
Married for three years to an African-American sculptor.
1948: Graduated from Dillard University in New Orleans.
Father was a Baptist minister and mother a seamstress.
Stage: Appeared in James Baldwin's "The Amen Corner" on Broadway in 1965, for which she received a Tony nomination as Best Actress (Dramatic).
One of her poems, "Keep Climbing, Girls", has been turned into a picture book inspiring girls' power. Published 2006 by Simon & Schuster.
For her work on the legitimate stage, she was honored with the Paul Robeson Pioneer Award and was inducted into the NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame.
She was a lifelong liberal Democrat and a Civil Rights activist.

Personal Quotes (1)

in "I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America"] There are a lot of movies out there that I would hate to be paid to do, some real demeaning, real woman-denigrating stuff. It is up to women to change their roles. They are going to have to write the stuff and do it. And they will.

See also

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