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Alice, Mary 1941–

Alice, Mary 1941–

(Mary Alice Smith)


Full name, Mary Alice Smith; born December 3, 1941, in Indianola, MS; daughter of Sam and Ozelar (maiden name, Jurnakin) Smith. Education: Chicago State University, B.A.; trained for the stage with Lloyd Richards at the Negro Ensemble Company in New York City. Politics: Democrat. Avocational Interests: Reading, music.


Actress. Worked as a public school teacher in Chicago, IL.


Actors' Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Awards, Honors:

Obie Award, performance, Village Voice, 1979, for Julius Caesar and Nongogo; Antoinette Perry Award, best featured actress in a play, and Drama Desk Award, outstanding featured actress in a play, both 1987, for Fences; Independent Spirit Award nomination, best female lead, Independent Feature Project/West, 1991, for To Sleep with Anger; Emmy Award nomination, 1992, and Emmy Award, 1993, both outstanding supporting actress in a drama series, for I'll Fly Away; Antoinette Perry Award nomination, best actress in a play, and Drama Desk Award nomination, outstanding actress in a play, both 1995, for Having Our Say: The Delaney Sisters' First 100 Years; inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame, 2001; Black Reel Award nomination, film: best supporting actress, 2004, for The Matrix Revolutions.


Stage Appearances:

Sunma, The Strong Breed, Greenwich Mews Theatre, New York City, 1967–68.

The Trials of Brother Jero, Greenwich Mews Theatre, 1967–68.

A Rat's Mass, La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, New York City, 1969.

Cora Beasley, No Place to Be Somebody, Morosco Theatre, New York City, 1971.

Velma Best, The Duplex, Forum Theatre, New York City, 1972.

Christine, Miss Julie, Roundabout Theatre, New York City, 1973.

Thoughts, La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, then Theatre de Lys, New York City, both 1973.

Girlfriend, poet, and loved one, House Party, American Place Theatre, New York City, 1973–74.

Maybelle, In the Deepest Part of Sleep, St. Mark's Playhouse, New York City, 1974.

Mhandi's wife, Black Sunlight, St. Mark's Playhouse, 1974.

Mrs. Moore, Heaven and Hell's Agreement, St. Mark's Playhouse, 1974.

Older wife and Octavia, Terraces, St. Mark's Playhouse, 1974.

Reba, Cockfight, American Place Theatre, 1977.

Queeny, Nongogo, Manhattan Theatre Club, New York City, 1978.

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf, Adelaide Festival, Australia, 1978.

Ninth player, Spell #7, New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, New York City, 1979.

Portia, Julius Caesar, New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, 1979.

Rachel Tate, Zooman and the Sign, Negro Ensemble Company, Theatre Four, New York City, 1980–81.

Phumla Hlophe, Glasshouse, Theatre at St. Peter's Church, New York City, 1981.

Open Admissions, Long Wharf Theatre, New Haven, CT, 1982.

Essie, Take Me Along, Manhattan Community College Performing Arts Center, New York City, 1984.

A Raisin in the Sun, Yale Repertory Theatre, New Haven, CT, 1984.

Rose, Fences, Goodman Theatre, Chicago, IL, 1985, later 46th Street Theatre, New York City, 1987–88.

Queen Margaret, The Tragedy of Richard III (also known as Richard III), New York Shakespeare Festival, Delacorte Theatre, New York City, 1990.

Maggie, The Shadow Box, Circle in the Square, New York City, 1994–95.

Bessie, Having Our Say: The Delaney Sisters' First 100 Years (also known as Having Our Say), McCarter Theatre, Princeton, NJ, then Booth Theatre, New York City, 1995.

Appeared in Purlie Victorious, Chicago, IL; also appeared in The Vagina Monologues, Westside Theatre (Downstairs), New York City. Appeared in productions at other theatres.

Film Appearances:

Moms, The Education of Sonny Carson, Paramount, 1974.

Effie, Sparkle, Warner Bros., 1976.

Linda Ganz, Teachers, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer/United Artists, 1984.

Cora, Beat Street, Orion, 1985.

Annie Lamb, The Bonfire of the Vanities, Warner Bros., 1990.

Margaret (a nurse), Awakenings, Columbia, 1990.

Suzie, To Sleep with Anger, Samuel Goldwyn, 1990.

School teacher, Malcolm X (also known as X), Warner Bros., 1992.

Lottie, A Perfect World, Warner Bros., 1993.

Mrs. Gordon, Life with Mikey (also known as Give Me a Break), Buena Vista, 1993.

Evelyn, The Inkwell (also known as No Ordinary Summer), Buena Vista, 1994.

Mary Jones, Heading Home, HP Releasing, 1995.

Alice, Bed of Roses (also known as Amelia and the King of Plants), New Line Cinema, 1996.

Grandma Rosa Lynn Sinclair, Down in the Delta, Miramax, 1998.

Mattie, The Wishing Tree, Hallmark Entertainment, 1999.

Dolores Williams, Catfish in Black Bean Sauce, Ironhill Pictures, 2000.

(As Mary Alice Smith) Emiline Crane, The Life (short film), 2002.

Mrs. Eunice Stokes, Sunshine State, Sony Pictures Classics, 2002.

Herself, What I Want My Words to Do to You: Voices from Inside a Women's Maximum Security Prison (documentary), Borrowed Light Productions, 2003.

The Oracle, The Matrix Revolutions, Warner Bros.; IMAX version released as The Matrix Revolutions: The IMAX Experience, 2003.

Television Appearances; Series:

Secretary, The Edge of Night, CBS, beginning c. 1974.

Ellie Grant Hubbard, All My Children (also known as All My Children: The Summer of Seduction), ABC, 1980.

Leticia "Lettie" Bostic, A Different World, NBC, 1988–89.

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

Lilah Dean, "The Killing Floor," The American Experience (also known as The American Experience: The Killing Floor), PBS, 1983.

Edith Murray, "Concealed Enemies," American Playhouse, PBS, 1984.

Fannie Michael, The Women of Brewster Place, ABC, 1989.

Maggie Arnett, Laurel Avenue, HBO, 1993.

Television Appearances; Movies:

Helen Mayfield, Just an Old Sweet Song (also known as Down Home), CBS, 1976.

Minnie Hayward, Lawman without a Gun (also known as He Who Walks Alone and This Man Stands Alone), 1977.

Mrs. Hauser, The Brass Ring, 1983.

Blind Lilly, "Charlotte Forten's Mission: Experiment in Freedom" (also known as "Half–Slave, Half–Free 2"), American Playhouse, PBS, 1985.

Altona Johns, The Vernon Johns Story (also known as The Road to Freedom: The Vernon Johns Story), syndicated, 1994.

Adele Thompson, Ray Alexander: A Menu for Murder, NBC, 1995.

Violet, The Photographer, HBO, 2000.

Dorothy Cobb, The Last Brickmaker in America, CBS, 2001.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Requiem for a Nun, PBS, c. 1974.

Mrs. Garth, "The Color of Friendship," ABC Afterschool Specials, ABC, 1981.

Lady, "The Mother," Great Performances, PBS, 1994.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

Alberta, "The Sty of the Blind Pig," Hollywood Television Theatre, PBS, 1974.

Frances Victor, "Brother, Can You Spare an Act?," Sanford and Son, NBC, 1975.

Frances Victor, "My Brother–In–Law's Keeper," Sanford and Son, NBC, 1975.

Loretta, "The Baby," Good Times, CBS, 1975.

Marnie, "Target Black," Police Woman, NBC, 1975.

Angel, "The Traitor in Our Midst," Serpico, NBC, 1976.

Evelyn Burr, "Scenes from the Middle Class," Visions, PBS, 1976.

Maxine Manley, "Watts a Matter?," L.A. Law, NBC, 1990.

Marguerite Peck, "Hard Lessons," I'll Fly Away, NBC, 1992.

Marguerite Peck, "The Third Man," I'll Fly Away, NBC, 1992.

Virginia Bryan, "Mother Love," Law & Order (also known as Law & Order Prime), NBC, 1993.

Ella Clark, "Baby–Sitting," Orleans, CBS, 1997.

Loretta, "Afterschool Delight," Cosby, CBS, 1999.

Loretta, "The Awful Truth," Cosby, 1999.

Loretta, "Lucas Absentia," Cosby, CBS, 1999.

Abby Franklin, "The Gift," Providence, NBC, 2000.

Georgia Bishop, "God Bless the Child," Touched by an Angel, CBS, 2000.

Mrs. Pettaway, "Sex and Money," Soul Food, Showtime, 2001.

Eugenia Hill, "The Visitation," Oz, HBO, 2002.

Elaine Nebatoff, "Memories," The Jury (also known as The Circuit), Fox, 2004.

Jackie Simon, "The Senator," Line of Fire (also known as Lines of Duty), ABC, 2004.

Joyce, "All That Glitters," Kojak, USA Network, 2005.

Television Appearances; Pilots:

Donie, Joshua's World, CBS, 1980.



Herself, The Burly Man Chronicles, Warner Home Video, 2004.

Herself, The Matrix Recalibrated (also known as Revolutions Recalibrated), Warner Home Video, 2004.

Video Games:

The Oracle, Enter the Matrix, Atari/Infogrames Entertainment, 2003.

The Oracle, The Matrix Online (also known as MxO), Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, 2005.

The Oracle (new), The Matrix: Path of Neo, Atari/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, 2005.


Favorite role: Alberta in The Sty of the Blind Pig. Mary Alice told CTFT: "I am very proud to be an actor. I chose this profession because I feel this is how I can fulfill my service as a human being—communicating the human condition. … My desire is to create interesting and complex characters on film and television."



Current Biography, November, 1995, p. 38.

Essence, July, 1995, p. 50.

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