Nicholas, Denise 1944(?)–

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Nicholas, Denise 1944(?)–

(Denise Nicholas Hill, Denise Nicholas-Hill)


Original name, Donna Denise Nicholas; born July 12, 1944 (some sources say 1945) in Detroit, MI (some sources say Delaware); daughter of Otto Nicholas and Louise Carolyn Burgen; married Gilbert Moses (a theater artistic director), 1964 (divorced, 1965); married Bill Withers (a singer; divorced); married Jim Hill (a sportscaster), 1981. Education: Attended the University of Michigan, 1962–64; and the University of Southern California, B.A., drama, 1987; trained for the stage with Paul Mann and Lloyd Richards; studied dance with Louis Johnson and voice with Kristan Linklater at the Negro Ensemble Company.

Addresses: Agent—The Kohner Agency, 9300 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 555, Beverly Hills, CA 90212.

Career: Actress, writer, and producer. Appeared in productions with Media Forum Players, CA, and at Old Reliable Theatre Tavern, New York City; member of original acting company, Negro Ensemble Company, New York City, 1967–68; artist in residence, Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute, 1987–88; acting teacher, University of Southern California, 1987–89; founding member, Free Southern Theatre, New Orleans, LA; founder and co-owner, Masai Films, Inc., Hollywood, CA; producer, Artists and Athletes Against Apartheid: A Benefit, Beverly Wilshire Hotel; producer, The Media Forum Presents, Wilshire Ebell Hotel. Chair, Fourth Annual American Airlines/Jet Celebrity Tennis Classic, United Negro College Fund Super Tennis Week, 1978; secretary, Negro Ensemble Company; works with Neighbors of Watts, Inc. (an organization for the care of children); and worked as a secretary for J. Walter Thompson.

Member: Actors' Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Women in Film.

Awards, Honors: Golden Globe Award nominations, best television actress—drama, 1970, 1971, 1972, and three Emmy Award nominations, all for Room 222; Communications Excellence to Black Audiences (CEBA) Awards, for excellence for advertising and communications, 1981–82; Cultural Artist of the Year, Harvard University Harvard Foundation, 1995; five National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Awards; two Los Angeles Emmy Awards for Voices of Our People: In Celebration of Black Poetry.


Film Appearances:

Michelle, Blacula, American International Pictures, 1972.

Elena, The Soul of Nigger Charley, Paramount, 1973.

Irene Mapes, Mr. Ricco, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1975.

Beth Foster, Let's Do It Again, Warner Bros., 1975.

Lila French, A Piece of the Action, Warner Bros., 1977.

Betty Walker, Capricorn One, Warner Bros., 1978.

(As Denise Nicholas-Hill) Vanessa Jackson, Marvin and Tige (also known as Like Father and Son), Lorimar, 1983.

Joan, Ghost Dad, 1990.

Herself, Color Adjustment (documentary; also known as Color Adjustment: Blacks in Prime Time), 1992.

Sylvia Becker, Ritual, Ventura Distribution, 2000.

TV in Black: The First Fifty Years (documentary), Koch Vision, 2004.

Gordon's mother, Proud (also known as Proudly We Serve), Lions Gate Films Home Entertainment, 2004.

Film Work:

Producer of short films, all with Masai Films; Navy Junior R.O.T.C. and Welcome Aboard, both for the U.S. Navy; Aquarius (animated), for Mattel Electronics; The Road Rapper, for the California Department of Highways; also Doing Business in Nigeria.

Television Appearances; Series:

Liz McKintyre, guidance counselor, Room 222, ABC, 1969–74.

Olivia Ellis, Baby, I'm Back, CBS, 1978.

Councilwoman Harriet DeLong, In the Heat of the Night, 1989–94.

Also appeared in Yes, Inc., PBS.

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

Pat, The Sophisticated Gents, NBC, 1981.

Television Appearances; Movies:

Joy, Five Desperate Women, ABC, 1971.

Marva Trotter Louis, Ring of Passion (also known as Countdown to the Big One), 1978.

(As Denise Nicholas Hill) Connie, Jacqueline Susann's "Valley of the Dolls" (also known as Valley of the Dolls), 1981.

Supercarrier (also known as Deadly Enemies), 1988.

Elizabeth Sturgis, Mother's Day (also known as Lethal Error and Vindicated: A Mother's War), 1989.

Cleo Babilonia, On Thin Ice: The Tai Babilonia Story, NBC, 1990.

Harriet DeLong, In the Heat of the Night: A Matter of Justice, CBS, 1994.

Harriet DeLong, In the Heat of the Night: Who Was Geli Bendl?, CBS, 1994.

Harriet DeLong, In the Heat of the Night: By Duty Bound, CBS, 1995.

Harriet DeLong, In the Heat of the Night: Grow Old Along With Me, CBS, 1995.

Lettie, The Rockford Files: Murder and Misdemeanors, CBS, 1997.

Television Appearances; Specials:

CBS team member, Battle of the Network Stars IV, ABC, 1978.

Nurse Reilly, The Big Stuffed Dog, 1981.

Wife, And the Children Shall Lead (also known as Wonderworks: "And the Children Shall Lead"), PBS, 1985.

The 19th Annual Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame, syndicated, 1992.

Television Appearances; Pilots:

(As Denise Nicholas-Hill) Masquerade, ABC, 1983.

Jean Kincaid, Heart and Soul, ABC, 1989.

Also appeared in Over Here, Mr. President, HBO.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

"The Witness," N.Y.P.D., ABC, 1967.

"The Bombers," N.Y.P.D., ABC, 1967.

"Encounter on the Rooftop," N.Y.P.D., ABC, 1968.

"To Catch a Roaring Lion," It Takes a Thief, ABC, 1968.

"Three-Fifty-Two," N.Y.P.D., ABC, 1969.

"Eye of the Storm," The F.B.I., ABC, 1969.

The Flip Wilson Show, NBC, 1970.

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, NBC, 1970, 1973.

Jyro, "Logoda's Heads," Night Gallery (also known as Rod Serling's "Night Gallery"), 1971.

"Love and the Split-Up," Love, American Style, 1972.

"Bill Withers/Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes," Soul Train, syndicated, 1972.

Candy Priests, "A Community of Victims," Police Story, 1975.

Denise Culp, "The Party," Rhoda, CBS, 1975.

"The Strange Behaviour of Paul Kelland," Marcus Welby, M.D. (also known as Robert Young, Family Doctor), ABC, 1975.

Law student, "Great Expectations," The Paper Chase, CBS, 1978.

Sondra Williams, "Substitute Mother," Diff'rent Strokes, NBC, 1980.

Carl Walker, "Just Friends," Benson, ABC, 1980.

Maura Belloque, "The Kinfolk/Sis and the Slicker/Moonlight and Moonshine: Parts 1 & 2," The Love Boat, ABC, 1980.

Julie Hammond, "The Race," Secrets of Midland Heights, 1981.

Jenny, "Pal-I-Mony-O-Mine/Does Father Know Best?/An 'A' for Gopher," The Love Boat, ABC, 1982.

(As Denise Nicholas-Hill) T. C.'s date, "I Witness," Magnum, P.I., 1984.

"And Baby Takes Two," Hotel (also known as Arthur Hailey's "Hotel"), 1987.

Jeanie Smith, "Shall We Dance?," 227, 1988.

Mrs. Kirby, "The Widow," Amen, 1988.

Lorraine, "Birthday Blues," The Cosby Show, 1989.

"Plates," B. L. Stryker, 1990.

Carol Garrison, "Here's to Old Friends," A Different World, NBC, 1990.

Mrs. Walker, "My Dinner with Mark," Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, ABC, 1992.

Storytime, PBS, 1994.

Miss Hickes, "A Kiss Is Just a Kiss," The Parent 'Hood, The WB, 1995.

Lilah James, "One Degree of Separation," Living Single, Fox, 1997.

Lilah James, "Never Can Say Goodbye," Living Single, Fox, 1997.

"Carroll O'Connor: All in a Lifetime," Biography, Arts and Entertainment, 2001.

Ann Kyle, "Failure to Communicate," "My Wife and Kids, ABC, 2002.

Tavis Smiley, PBS, 2005.

Larry King Live, CNN, 2005.

"Changing Times and Trends," TV Land Confidential, TV Land, 2005.

Also appeared in One Day at a Time, CBS.

Television Work; Specials:

Worked as coproducer, Voices of Our People: In Celebration of Black Poetry, PBS; producer, Story of a People, syndicated.

Stage Appearances:

(Off-Broadway debut) Viet Rock, Martinique Theatre, 1966.

The Song of the Lusitanian Bogey, Negro Ensemble Company, St. Mark's Playhouse, New York City, 1968.

Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Negro Ensemble Company, St. Mark's Playhouse, 1968.

Praise singer and dancer, Kongi's Harvest, Negro Ensemble Company, St. Mark's Playhouse, 1968.

Lena, Daddy Goodness, Negro Ensemble Company, St. Mark's Playhouse, 1968.

Young girl, Ceremonies in Dark Old Men, Negro Ensemble Company, Pocket Theatre, New York City, 1968, then St. Mark's Playhouse, 1969.

Angela, Dame Lorraine, Los Angeles Actors Theatre, Los Angeles, 1982.

Panzi Lew McVain, Long Time Since Yesterday, New Federal Theatre, New York City, 1985.

Suzanne Alexander, The Ohio State Murders, American Repertory Theatre, Hasty Pudding Theatre, Cambridge, MA, 2000.

Also appeared as Janie, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute; in Poetry Show, Judson Poets Theatre, New York City; and as Rosa Parks, Buses, University of Southern California.

Major Tours:

Black woman, In White America, Free Southern Theatre, U.S. cities, 1964.

Young actress, Three Boards and a Passion, U.S. cities, 1966.

Also appeared as Lutiebell, Purlie Victorious, neighbor woman, The Rifles of Senora Carrar, player, Does Man Help Man?, the girlfriend, Shadow of a Gunman, and An Evening of Afro-American Poetry and Song, all Free Southern Theatre, U.S. cities; and was assistant stage manager, Waiting for Godot, Free Southern Theatre, U.S. cities.

Radio Appearances:

Appeared as Dr. Judith Kaufman, An American Daughter, Los Angeles Theatre Works, on National Public Radio.


Television Episodes:

In the Heat of the Night, CBS, 1992–94.


Buses, University of Southern California.


The Denise Nicholas Beauty Book (nonfiction), Cornerstone Library, 1971.

Freshwater Road (novel), Agate Publishing, 2005.

Also wrote "Augustine, Myrtle, Marty, and Me" (short story), published in Essence.



Ebony, September, 2005, p. 32.

Essence, September, 2005, p. 139.

Jet, May 9, 1994, p. 54.

People Weekly, August 22, 2005, p. 119.

Publishers Weekly, July 11, 2005, p. 58.

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Nicholas, Denise 1944(?)–

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