African-American actress born and raised in New York City, primarily in parts with strong, social themes.
Best known for her stage and film triumphs opposite James Earl Jones as the prostitute Clara Kerr who becomes his wife for a spell in The Great White Hope (1970). For her theater performance, Marlene was honored with the Clarence Derwent, Theatre World and NAACP Image awards.
Was quite startling as the in-your-face political revolutionary Laureen Hobbes in the Oscar-winning film satire Network (1976).
Played Victoria Butterfield, the last maid to stand her ground to Bea Arthur's feminist posturings during the final season (1977-1978) of the highly popular Maude (1972) sitcom. She followed in the servile footsteps of Esther Rolle and Hermione Baddeley.
Attended the real High School of Performing Arts depicted in the TV series Fame.