Beah Richards

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Beah Richards
Beah Richards Bill Cosby Show 1970 (cropped).JPG
Beah Richards on The Bill Cosby Show (1970)
Born
Beulah Elizabeth Richardson

(1920-07-12)July 12, 1920
DiedSeptember 14, 2000(2000-09-14) (aged 80)
Vicksburg, Mississippi, U.S.
Alma mater Dillard University
OccupationActress
Years active19552000
Notable work
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Roots: The Next Generations
Spouse(s)Hugh Harrell Jr. (divorced)

Beulah Elizabeth Richardson (July 12, 1920 September 14, 2000), known professionally as Beah Richards, was an American actress of stage, screen, and television. She was also a poet, playwright, and author.

Americans citizens, or natives, of the United States of America

Americans are nationals and citizens of the United States of America. Although nationals and citizens make up the majority of Americans, some dual citizens, expatriates, and permanent residents may also claim American nationality. The United States is home to people of many different ethnic origins. As a result, American culture and law does not equate nationality with race or ethnicity, but with citizenship and permanent allegiance.

Contents

Richards was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her supporting role in the film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner in 1968, as well as winning two Primetime Emmy Awards for her guest roles in the television series Frank's Place in 1988 and The Practice in 2000. She also received a Tony Award nomination for her performance in the 1965 production of The Amen Corner .

Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress award presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

The Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress is an award presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS). It is given in honor of an actress who has delivered an outstanding performance in a supporting role while working within the film industry. The award was traditionally presented by the previous year's Best Supporting Actor winner.

The Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture was first awarded by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in 1944 for a performance in a motion picture released in the previous year.

<i>Guess Whos Coming to Dinner</i> 1967 film by Stanley Kramer

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner is a 1967 American comedy-drama film produced and directed by Stanley Kramer, and written by William Rose. It stars Spencer Tracy, Sidney Poitier, and Katharine Hepburn, and features Hepburn's niece Katharine Houghton.

Life and career

She was born Beulah Elizabeth Richardson in Vicksburg, Mississippi; her mother was a seamstress and PTA advocate and her father was a Baptist minister. In 1948, she graduated from Dillard University in New Orleans and two years later moved to New York City. [1] Her career began in 1955 when she portrayed an 84-year-old-grandmother in the off-Broadway show Take a Giant Step . She often played the role of a mother or grandmother, and continued acting her entire life. She appeared in the original Broadway productions of Purlie Victorious, The Miracle Worker , and A Raisin in the Sun .

Vicksburg, Mississippi City in Mississippi, United States

Vicksburg is the only city in, and county seat of, Warren County, Mississippi, United States. It is located 234 miles (377 km) northwest of New Orleans at the confluence of the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers, and 40 miles (64 km) due west of Jackson, the state capital. It is located on the east bank of the Mississippi River across from the state of Louisiana.

Dillard University private college in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Dillard University is a private, historically black, liberal arts college in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. Founded in 1930 and incorporating earlier institutions that were founded as early as 1869 after the American Civil War, it is affiliated with the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

From the 1930s to the late 1950s, Richards was a member and organizer with the Communist Party USA in Los Angeles after befriending artist Paul Robeson. She is among the Black women who "actively participated in movements affiliated with the CPUSA" between 1917's Bolshevik Revolution and Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev's 1956 revelations. [2] She was later a sponsor of the National United Committee to Free Angela Davis. [3]

Paul Robeson American singer, actor, and political activist

Paul Leroy Robeson was an American bass baritone concert artist and stage and film actor who became famous both for his cultural accomplishments and for his political activism. Educated at Rutgers College and Columbia University, he was also a star athlete in his youth. He also studied Swahili and linguistics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London in 1934. His political activities began with his involvement with unemployed workers and anti-imperialist students whom he met in Britain and continued with support for the Loyalist cause in the Spanish Civil War and his opposition to fascism. In the United States he also became active in the Civil Rights Movement and other social justice campaigns. His sympathies for the Soviet Union and for communism, and his criticism of the United States government and its foreign policies, caused him to be blacklisted during the McCarthy era.

Nikita Khrushchev First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev was a Soviet statesman who led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964. Khrushchev was responsible for the de-Stalinization of the Soviet Union, for backing the progress of the early Soviet space program, and for several relatively liberal reforms in areas of domestic policy. Khrushchev's party colleagues removed him from power in 1964, replacing him with Leonid Brezhnev as First Secretary and Alexei Kosygin as Premier.

Angela Davis American political activist

Angela Yvonne Davis is an American communist, political activist, academic, and author. She emerged as a prominent counterculture activist in the 1960s working with the Communist Party USA, of which she was a member until 1991, and was involved in the Black Panther Party during the Civil Rights Movement.

Richards was nominated for a Tony Award for her 1965 performance in James Baldwin's The Amen Corner . [4] She received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Sidney Poitier's mother in the 1967 film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner . [1] Other notable movie performances include Hurry Sundown , The Great White Hope , Beloved and In the Heat of the Night .

Tony Award awards for live Broadway theatre

The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Broadway Theatre, more commonly known as the Tony Award, recognizes excellence in live Broadway theatre. The awards are presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League at an annual ceremony in Manhattan. The awards are given for Broadway productions and performances, and an award is given for regional theatre. Several discretionary non-competitive awards are also given, including a Special Tony Award, the Tony Honors for Excellence in Theatre, and the Isabelle Stevenson Award. The awards are named after Antoinette "Tony" Perry, co-founder of the American Theatre Wing.

<i>The Amen Corner</i> 1954 play written by James Baldwin

The Amen Corner is a three-act play by James Baldwin. It was Baldwin's first attempt at theater following Go Tell It on the Mountain. It was first published in 1954, and inspired a short-lived 1983 Broadway musical adaptation with the slightly truncated title, Amen Corner. The play was revived at the Royal National Theatre in London in summer 2013.

Sidney Poitier American-born Bahamian actor, film director, author, and diplomat

Sir Sidney Poitier, is a Bahamian-American actor, film director, author, and diplomat.

She made numerous guest television appearances including roles on Beauty and the Beast , The Bill Cosby Show , Sanford and Son , Benson , Designing Women , The Practice , The Big Valley and ER (as Dr. Peter Benton's mother.) She was the winner of two Emmy Awards, one in 1988 for her appearance on the series Frank's Place and another in 2000 for her appearance on The Practice . [1]

<i>Beauty and the Beast</i> (1987 TV series) American drama series

Beauty and the Beast is an American fantasy-drama series which first aired on CBS in 1987. Creator Ron Koslow's updated version of the fairy tale has a double focus: the relationship between Vincent, a mythic, noble man-beast, and Catherine, a savvy Assistant District Attorney in New York; and a secret Utopian community of social outcasts living in a subterranean sanctuary. Through an empathetic bond, Vincent senses Catherine's emotions, and becomes her guardian.

<i>The Bill Cosby Show</i> American sitcom television series, 1969-1971

The Bill Cosby Show is an American sitcom that aired for two seasons on NBC's Sunday night schedule from 1969 until 1971, under the sponsorship of Procter & Gamble. There were 52 episodes made in the series. It marked Bill Cosby's first solo foray in television, after his co starring role with Robert Culp in I Spy. The series also marked the first time an African American starred in his or her own eponymous comedy series.

<i>Sanford and Son</i> television series

Sanford and Son is an American sitcom that ran on the NBC television network from January 14, 1972, to March 25, 1977. It was based on the BBC Television program Steptoe and Son, which had its original broadcast run in the United Kingdom from 1962 to 1965.

Death

Richards died from emphysema in her hometown of Vicksburg, Mississippi at the age of 80. [5] [6]

Documentary

In the last year of her life, Richards was the subject of a documentary created by actress Lisa Gay Hamilton. The documentary Beah: A Black Woman Speaks was created from over 70 hours of their conversations. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the AFI Film Festival. [7]

Further reading

Radicalism at the Crossroads: African American Women Activists in the Cold War (2011), by Dayo Gore, is about Richards and others.

Filmography

Feature films
YearTitleRoleNotes
1958 The Mugger Grecco Maid
1959 Take a Giant Step May Scott
1962 The Miracle Worker Viney the MaidUncredited
1963 Gone Are the Days! Idella Landy
1967 Hurry Sundown Rose Scott
1967 In the Heat of the Night Mama Caleba
1967 Guess Who's Coming to Dinner Mrs. PrenticeNominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
1970 The Great White Hope Mama Tiny NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
1972 The Biscuit Eater Charity Tomlin
1973A Dream For ChristmasGrandma Bessie
1975 Mahogany Florence
1986 Inside Out Verna
1987 Big Shots Miss Hanks
1989 Homer and Eddie Linda Cervi
1989 Drugstore Cowboy Drug Counselor
1998 Beloved Baby SuggsNominated — NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
"There are a lot of movies out there that I would hate to be paid to do, some real demeaning, real woman-denigrating stuff. It is up to women to change their roles. They are going to have to write the stuff and do it. And they will."

– Beah Richards

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References

  1. 1 2 3 Brian Baxter. "Obituary: Beah Richards". the Guardian. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  2. Sojourning for Freedom: Black Women, American Communism, and the Making of Black Left Feminism, McDuffie, Erik S. "Throughout the Party, they advanced Black liberation, women's rights, decolonization, economic justice, peace, and international solidarity. The key figures in this story … are Audley "Queen Mother" Moore, Louise Thompson Patterson, Thyra Edwards, Bonita Williams, Williana Burroughs, Claudia Jones, Esther Cooper Jackson, Beaulah Richardson (Beah Richards), Grace P. Campbell, Charlene Mitchell, and Sallye Bell Davis."
  3. ibid
  4. The Broadway League. "Beah Richards - IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information" . Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  5. "Beah Richards, 80, Actress in Stalwart Roles". 16 September 2000. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  6. "Beah Richards; Oscar Nominee for 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
  7. Variety