McNeil, Claudia (1917–1993)

views updated

McNeil, Claudia (1917–1993)

African-American actress . Born in Baltimore, Maryland, on August 13, 1917; died in Englewood, New Jersey, on November 25, 1993.

Selected theater:

Mamie in Simply Heavenly (1957); Tituba in The Crucible (1958); Lena Younger in A Raisin in the Sun (1959); Sister Margaret in a London production of The Amen Corner (1965); the Jewish mother in Something Different (1967); Fatateeta in Her First Roman (1968).

A nightclub singer before making her off-Broadway debut in Langston Hughes' Simply Heavenly (1957), Claudia McNeil is best known for her role as Lena Younger in A Raisin in the Sun (1959), the Lorraine Hansberry drama about a struggling black family that won the Drama Critics' Circle Best Play award and ran on Broadway for three years. McNeil recreated her role for the film version of the play in 1961. The actress later portrayed Sister Margaret in a London production of James Baldwin's The Amen Corner (1965), for which she was voted Best Actress of the year by the

critics. McNeil appeared in a variety of film and television roles before returning to cabaret in 1978. She was hospitalized for surgery in 1982, after which she was confined to a New Jersey nursing home. She died in 1993, at age 76.


Pace, Eric. "Claudia McNeill, 77 [sic], an Actress Best Known for 'Raisin in the Sun,'" in The New York Times. November 29, 1993, p. B11.

Willis, John. Theater World: 1993–1994. Volume 50. NY: Theater Book Publishers, 1996.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts

About this article

McNeil, Claudia (1917–1993)

Updated About content Print Article