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Richards, Beah (1920–2000)

Richards, Beah (1920–2000)

African-American actress, poet, and playwright. Born Beah Richardson in Vicksburg, Mississippi, on July 12, 1920; died of emphysema in Vicksburg, Sept 14, 2000; dau. of Wesley Richardson (Baptist minister) and Beulah Richardson (seamstress); attended Dillard University in New Orleans; m. artist Hugh Harrell (div.).

Made professional stage debut at Old Globe Theater in San Diego (1948); had 1st major NY role (1954), as the grandmother in Off-Broadway revival of Take a Giant Step and played same role in film version (1960); co-founded Harlem Community Theater (1958); made Broadway debut in The Miracle Worker (1959), followed by Purlie Victorious; starred on Broadway in The Amen Corner (1965), receiving the Theatre World Award and New York Drama Critics Circle Award; also wrote poetry and plays, including All's Well That Ends and One Is a Crowd (1971), and published collection of poems, A Black Woman Speaks (1974); frequently directed tv shows and plays as well; other films include In the Heat of the Night (1967), Hurry Sundown (1967), The Great White Hope (1970), Mahogany (1975), Drugstore Cowboy (1989) and Beloved (1998). Nominated for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967); inducted into Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame (1974); won Emmy awards for A Black Woman Speaks and for guest roles on "Frank's Place" (1980s) and "The Practice" (2000).

See also Women in World History.

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