Lynne Thigpen

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Lynne Thigpen
Thigpen as Miss Barrett in the 1989 dramatized biographical film Lean On Me
Cherlynne Theresa Thigpen

(1948-12-22)December 22, 1948
DiedMarch 12, 2003(2003-03-12) (aged 54)
Resting placeElmhurst Cemetery, Joliet, Illinois
Other namesLynne Richmond
Alma mater University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
Occupation Actress
Years active1971–2003
TelevisionThe Chief in Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?
Awards1992 Obie Award – ( Boesman and Lena )
1997 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play – ( An American Daughter )
1999 Obie Award – (Jar the Floor)

Cherlynne Theresa "Lynne" Thigpen (December 22, 1948 – March 12, 2003) was an American actress, best known for her role as "The Chief" of ACME in the various Carmen Sandiego television series and computer games from 1991 to 1997. For her varied television work, Thigpen was nominated for six Daytime Emmy Awards; she won a Tony Award in 1997 for portraying Dr. Judith Kaufman in An American Daughter .

Actor person who acts in a dramatic or comic production and works in film, television, theatre, or radio

An actor is a person who portrays a character in a performance. The actor performs "in the flesh" in the traditional medium of the theatre or in modern media such as film, radio, and television. The analogous Greek term is ὑποκριτής (hupokritḗs), literally "one who answers". The actor's interpretation of their role—the art of acting—pertains to the role played, whether based on a real person or fictional character. Interpretation occurs even when the actor is "playing themselves", as in some forms of experimental performance art.

<i>Carmen Sandiego</i> American educational mystery video game series

Carmen Sandiego is a series of American educational mystery video games that spawned an edutainment franchise of the same name. The game released in 1985, Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?, triggered both the video game series and the franchise as a whole, which has continued up to the present day. Each game of the series has a particular theme and subject, where the player must use their knowledge to find Carmen Sandiego or any of her innumerable henchmen. This series was originally owned by Brøderbund, but is now owned by The Learning Company, whose latest release was Carmen Sandiego Returns in 2015. Since its initial release the series has won over 125 awards and accolades.

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 Midtown 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.


Early life and education

Born in Joliet, Illinois, Thigpen obtained a degree in teaching. [1] [2] She taught high school English briefly while studying theatre at the University of Illinois on an acting fellowship. [3]

Joliet, Illinois City in Illinois, United States

Joliet is a city in Will and Kendall counties in the U.S. state of Illinois, 30 miles (48 km) southwest of Chicago. It is the county seat of Will County and a major part of the southwest Chicago metropolitan area. At the 2010 census, the city was the fourth largest in Illinois, with a population of 147,433. A population estimate in 2018 put Joliet's population at 150,495, which would make it the 3rd largest city in Illinois if accurate.

University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign public research university in Urbana and Champaign, Illinois, United States

The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign is a public research university in Illinois and the flagship institution of the University of Illinois System. Founded in 1867 as a land-grant institution, its campus is located in the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana.



Thigpen moved to New York City in 1971 to begin her career as a stage actress. She had a long and prolific theater career and appeared in numerous musicals including Godspell , The Night That Made America Famous , The Magic Show , Working , Tintypes , and An American Daughter (for which she won her Tony Award for her portrayal of Dr. Judith Kaufman in 1997). [4]

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 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 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.

<i>Godspell</i> musical

Godspell is a musical composed by Stephen Schwartz with the book by John-Michael Tebelak. The show opened off-Broadway on May 17, 1971, and has since been produced by multiple touring companies and in many revivals. The 2011 revival played on Broadway from October 13, 2011 through June 24, 2012.

<i>The Night That Made America Famous</i> musical

The Night That Made America Famous is a 1975 musical revue featuring the songs of Harry Chapin. The music consists of a combination of songs written for the musical and songs from Chapin's previous albums, the latter including "What Made America Famous?", a song about a plumber who rescues a group of hippies from a fire, which includes the lyric that gave the musical its title.


Her first feature film role was as Lynne in Godspell (1973), co-starring opposite Victor Garber and David Haskell. Thigpen also portrayed a radio DJ (shown only from the nose down) in Walter Hill's The Warriors (1979), and Leonna Barrett, the mother of an expelled student, in Lean on Me (1989), the story of American high school principal Joe Louis Clark. She had a role in the remake of Shaft (2000) as the mother of a murder victim, and played the Second President of the World Congress in Bicentennial Man (1999). Her last film, Anger Management (2003), starring Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson, was released only a month after her death and paid tribute to her in the end credits.

<i>Godspell</i> (film) 1973 film by David Greene

Godspell is a 1973 musical film. It is a film adaptation of the 1971 Off-Broadway musical Godspell created by John-Michael Tebelak with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz. Directed by David Greene with stars Victor Garber as Jesus and David Haskell as Judas/John the Baptist, the film is set in contemporary New York City. John-Michael Tebelak is credited as co-writer of the screenplay and served as the creative consultant, although director David Greene said Tebelak did not write the screenplay.

The year 1973 in film involved some significant events.

Victor Garber Canadian actor and singer

Victor Joseph Garber is a Canadian actor and singer. He is known for playing Jesus in Godspell, Anthony Hope in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, John Wilkes Booth in Assassins, Jack Bristow in the television series Alias, Max in Lend Me a Tenor, Thomas Andrews in James Cameron's Titanic, and Ken Taylor, Canadian Ambassador to Iran, in Argo. He was a series regular on Legends of Tomorrow, as Dr. Martin Stein, having previously played the same role in a recurring capacity on The Flash as well as the web series Vixen.


Thigpen was perhaps best known to television audiences for playing "The Chief" in the award-winning PBS children's geography game show Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? , which involved education, humor, and an occasional musical performance. She reprised her role as The Chief in the successor show Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego? . She also played Luna in the television show Bear in the Big Blue House and also appeared in many other television series during her career, most notably in a recurring role as Grace Keefer on the ABC daytime drama All My Children and a supporting role as Ella Mae Farmer, a crime analyst for the Washington, D.C., police department, on the CBS crime drama The District . [5] She guest-starred in episodes of Gimme A Break! , L.A. Law , Law & Order , The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd , Homicide: Life on the Street , and Thirtysomething , and was a regular cast member on the short-lived NBC sketch comedy series The News Is the News .

PBS Kids brand for childrens programming aired by the Public Broadcasting Service in the United States

PBS Kids is the brand for most of the children's programming aired by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the United States. Some public television children's programs are not produced by PBS member stations or transmitted by PBS which is produced by independent public television distributors such as American Public Television are not labeled as "PBS Kids" programming, and it is mainly a programming block branding.

Geography The science that studies the terrestrial surface, the societies that inhabit it and the territories, landscapes, places or regions that form it

Geography is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and planets. The first person to use the word γεωγραφία was Eratosthenes. Geography is an all-encompassing discipline that seeks an understanding of Earth and its human and natural complexities—not merely where objects are, but also how they have changed and come to be.

Game show Type of television or radio program where contestants compete for prizes

A game show is a type of radio, television, or stage show in which contestants, individually or as teams, play a game which involves answering questions or solving puzzles, usually for money or prizes. Alternatively, a gameshow can be a demonstrative program about a game [while usually retaining the spirit of an awards ceremony]. In the former, contestants may be invited from a pool of public applicants. Game shows often reward players with prizes such as cash, trips and goods and services provided by the show's sponsor prize suppliers.

Audio productions

She appeared in radio skits of the Garrison Keillor program The American Radio Company of the Air . [6] Her voice was also heard on over 20 audio books, primarily works with socially relevant themes. [7]

Garrison Keillor American author, storyteller, humorist, voice actor, and radio personality

Gary Edward "Garrison" Keillor is an American author, storyteller, humorist, voice actor, and radio personality. He is best known as the creator of the Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) show A Prairie Home Companion, which he hosted from 1974 to 2016. Keillor created the fictional Minnesota town Lake Wobegon, the setting of many of his books, including Lake Wobegon Days and Leaving Home: A Collection of Lake Wobegon Stories. Other creations include Guy Noir, a detective voiced by Keillor who appeared in A Prairie Home Companion comic skits. Keillor is also the creator of the five-minute daily radio/podcast program The Writer's Almanac, which pairs one or two poems of his choice with a script about important literary, historical, and scientific events that coincided with that date in history.

Computer games

In her association with the Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? television show, Thigpen reprised her role as The Chief in three related computer games. Two were released in 1996: Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? (a reboot of the original 1985–1992 game) and Where in the U.S.A. Is Carmen Sandiego? The following year, a video game counterpart to the TV series' successor show, Where in Time is Carmen Sandiego, was released, titled Carmen Sandiego's Great Chase Through Time . Thigpen recorded hundreds of QuickTime videos for cut-scenes in the games, and generally received praise for her performances in them; in reviewing the 1997 game, David Colker of the Los Angeles Times enjoyed the "on-screen presence of actress Lynne Thigpen", noting that she "brings a winning presence to her role," [8] while Debbie Maria Leon of the New Straits Times wrote that "the urgency of the [confident Chief's] voice [gives] enough oomph to make [the player] go scurrying to restore history". [9]


Thigpen died of a cerebral hemorrhage on March 12, 2003, [10] in her Marina del Rey, California, home after complaining of headaches for several days. She was 54 years old. Drugs and foul play were ruled out by the coroner's autopsy which found "acute cardiac dysfunction, non-traumatic systemic and spontaneous intraventricular hemorrhage, and hemorrhage in the brain." She was entombed next to her parents at Elmhurst Cemetery in her hometown of Joliet, Illinois.

Response and legacy

After Thigpen died, the third season finale of The District had a tribute to her character Ella Mae Farmer.[ citation needed ]

Thigpen's death also led to a three-year hiatus of Bear in the Big Blue House ,[ citation needed ] and a planned film version of Bear was put on hold. Two years after Thigpen's death, Bear star Tara Mooney, who played the character Shadow, stated in an interview with Ray D'Arcy on Today FM : "The crew's hearts just weren't in it anymore".[ citation needed ]

Thigpen was posthumously nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for voicing Luna the moon in Bear in the Big Blue House, but she lost to Jeff Corwin for his wildlife reality series The Jeff Corwin Experience .[ citation needed ]

Thigpen's friends and family established a non-profit foundation, The Lynne Thigpen - Bobo Lewis Foundation, to help young actors and actresses learn how to survive and succeed in New York theater and to mentor the next generation of Broadway stars. [11]

Her final film, Anger Management (2003), was dedicated to her memory. Lynne Thigpen Elementary School in her hometown of Joliet, Illinois, was named in her honor. [12]

The character of The Chief in the Carmen Sandiego reboot has been confirmed to have been based on Lynne, the definitive creator of the role.








Awards and honors


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  2. Collins, Scott (20 March 2003). "Lynne Thigpen (1948-2003). (News Wire ...)" . Back Stage West. Retrieved 6 January 2019 via General OneFile.
  3. Osborne, Gwendolyn E. (July–August 2003). "A golden voice goes silent: Lynne Thigpen, the award-winning actress who died this past spring, was the hardest working narrator in audiobooks. (tribute)" . Black Issues Book Review. p. 71. Retrieved 6 January 2019 via General OneFile.CS1 maint: Date format (link)
  4. Kapos, Shia (14 March 2003). "LYNNE THIGPEN, 54". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 6 January 2019.
  5. "Actress Lynne Thigpen, 54, Dies In Los Angeles", Jet , March 31, 2005, p. 53.
  6. "A Prairie Home Companion Timeline". July 6, 1974. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  7. "Muppet Central Articles - Tributes: Lynne Thigpen". March 13, 2003. Retrieved January 29, 2013.
  8. Colker, David (7 December 1997). "A World Traveler Broadens Her Horizons: [Home Edition]". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 17 September 2014.
  9. Leon, Debbie Maria (April 26, 1999). "In hot pursuit of Carmen through time". New Straits Times. p. 56. Retrieved October 30, 2012.
  10. "Lynne Thigpen, Actress in CBS's 'District,' Dies at 54". New York Times. The Associated Press. March 14, 2003. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
  11. "Lynne Thigpen/Bobo Lewis Foundation Created for Actors, Writers, and Directors". Broadway World. April 26, 2005. Retrieved January 6, 2019.
  12. 1 2 "Lynne Thigpen School". Retrieved January 29, 2013.