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Nichelle Nichols

Film and television actress Nichelle Nichols was born on December 28, 1932 in Robbins, Illinois near Chicago. Her father, Samuel Earl Nichols, was a factory worker who also served as the mayor of Robbins and as its chief magistrate. Her mother, Lishia Mae (Parks) Nichols, was a homemaker. As a child, Nichols’ family moved to Chicago where she studied dance at the Chicago Ballet.

During the late 1940s, Nichols was discovered by jazz legend Duke Ellington and toured with both Ellington and Lionel Hampton as a lead singer and dancer. Her acting career began in the film Porgy and Bess (1959); and her first television role was on “The Lieutenant” (1964). Nichols went on to record two albums, including “Down to Earth” (1968), and “Out of This World” (1991).

In 1966, Nichols was cast as Lieutenant Commander Uhura in Star Trek, which marked one of the first times that an African American actress was portrayed a non-stereotypical role on television. Nichols went on to appear as Uhura numerous times in the Star Trek movie and television series, including Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), , Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Paramount (1989), Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991). She was also cast as Ruana in two Tarzan films: Tarzan’s Jungle Rebellion (1967) and Tarzan’s Deadly Silence (1970).

In 1975, Nichols established Women in Motion, Inc., a company that produced educational materials using music as a teaching tool and was expanded to become an astronaut recruitment tool after Nichols won a grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). This resulted in thousands of women and minorities applying to NASA’s space program, such as Sally Ride, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, and Ellison Onizuka. In addition to her autobiography Beyond Uhura: Star Trek and Other Memories (1994), Nichols is co-author of Saturn’s Child (1995), and a contributor to publications of the National Space Institute.

In October of 1984, Nichols was presented with NASA’s Public Service Award for her many efforts towards integrating the U.S. space program. She was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1992, and became the first African American actress to place her handprints in front of Hollywood’s Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, along with the rest of the Star Trek cast. Nichols was elected as an honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; and, on June 8, 2010, she received an Honorary Doctorate Degree from Los Angeles Mission College.

Nichelle Nichols was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 17, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.343

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/17/2013

Last Name

Nichols

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Englewood High School

Betsy Ross Elementary School

First Name

Nichelle

Birth City, State, Country

Robbins

HM ID

NIC04

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

12/28/1932

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

All Food

Short Description

Film actress and television actress Nichelle Nichols (1932 - ) was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her role as Lieutenant Commander Uhura in the original Star Trek television series and movie franchise.

Employment

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios

Paramount Pictures, Inc.

Favorite Color

Brown

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Nichelle Nichols' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Nichelle Nichols talks about her home in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Nichelle Nichols lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Nichelle Nichols describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Nichelle Nichols talks about her mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Nichelle Nichols describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Nichelle Nichols talks about how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Nichelle Nichols describes her parents' relationship

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Nichelle Nichols lists her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Nichelle Nichols talks about her sisters' acting skills

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Nichelle Nichols remembers her neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Nichelle Nichols remembers her neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Nichelle Nichols recalls Betsy Ross Elementary School in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Nichelle Nichols describes her experiences at Betsy Ross Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Nichelle Nichols talks about her early appreciation for the arts

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Nichelle Nichols remembers her scholarship to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Nichelle Nichols talks about her early dance training

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Nichelle Nichols recalls developing an interest in tap dance

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Nichelle Nichols remembers combining ballet and tap dance techniques

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Nichelle Nichols talks about her training under Carmencita Romero

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Nichelle Nichols remembers completing high school while dancing professionally

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Nichelle Nichols talks about her early experiences of religion

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Nichelle Nichols recalls dancing at the Sherman House Hotel in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Nichelle Nichols remembers segregation in downtown Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Nichelle Nichols talks about her parents' support for her aspirations

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Nichelle Nichols recalls dancing at a resort in Hawaii

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Nichelle Nichols remembers her decision to focus on singing

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Nichelle Nichols talks about her singing career

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Nichelle Nichols remembers her marriage to Foster Johnson

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Nichelle Nichols recalls the birth of her son

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Nichelle Nichols remembers developing her acting talent

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Nichelle Nichols recalls singing in the chorus of 'Porgy and Bess'

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Nichelle Nichols recalls her appearance in 'Kicks and Company'

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Nichelle Nichols remembers her role on 'The Lieutenant,' pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Nichelle Nichols remembers her role on 'The Lieutenant,' pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Nichelle Nichols remembers working with James Baldwin

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Nichelle Nichols talks about her role in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Nichelle Nichols recalls being offered a part on 'Star Trek'

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Nichelle Nichols remembers creating the role of Uhura

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Nichelle Nichols recalls working with Leonard Nimoy

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Nichelle Nichols talks about Gene Roddenberry's commitment to diverse casting

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Nichelle Nichols recalls the casting of William Shatner and DeForest Kelley on 'Star Trek'

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Nichelle Nichols remembers the pranks on the set of 'Star Trek'

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Nichelle Nichols recalls the challenges during the first season of 'Star Trek'

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Nichelle Nichols describes meeting the network producers of 'Star Trek'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Nichelle Nichols talks about the appeal of 'Star Trek'

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Nichelle Nichols recalls the minority guest appearances on 'Star Trek'

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Nichelle Nichols talks about the racial commentary in 'Star Trek'

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Nichelle Nichols talks about the representation of women on 'Star Trek'

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Nichelle Nichols recalls her experiences of discrimination on the set of 'Star Trek,' pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Nichelle Nichols recalls her experiences of discrimination on the set of 'Star Trek,' pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Nichelle Nichols remembers filming the first interracial kiss on television

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Nichelle Nichols recalls her decision to continue acting on 'Star Trek'

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Nichelle Nichols remembers the cancellation of 'Star Trek'

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Nichelle Nichols recalls the syndication of 'Star Trek'

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Nichelle Nichols talks about the 'Star Trek' animated series

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Nichelle Nichols describes her film work after the original 'Star Trek' series

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Nichelle Nichols talks about the Trekkie phenomenon

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Nichelle Nichols recalls the growth of the 'Star Trek' franchise

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Nichelle Nichols remembers writing her autobiography

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Nichelle Nichols describes her efforts to recruit black women as astronauts

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Nichelle Nichols talks about the Kwanza Foundation

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Nichelle Nichols describes the aims of the Kwanza Foundation

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Nichelle Nichols talks about her hopes for the future

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Nichelle Nichols reflects upon her life

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Nichelle Nichols reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Nichelle Nichols talks about her family

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Nichelle Nichols describes how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

5$5

DATitle
Nichelle Nichols recalls dancing at the Sherman House Hotel in Chicago, Illinois
Nichelle Nichols remembers creating the role of Uhura
Transcript
It became--and, and, and Carmencita [Carmencita Romero], oh took us downtown and, and she called my mother, I guess this is so--I was fourteen now and I came and I'm walking home from high school [Englewood High School, Chicago, Illinois] with my books you know, and my mother's knocking on the window, "Come in here." And, "What?" And she said, "You need to get downtown, Carmencita Romero at the, at the, at the hotel [Sherman House, Chicago, Illinois] and, and she wants you down there, and she said, 'Ms. Nichols [Lishia Parks Nichols] have her look grown, not just those'--." Well my oldest sister [Marian Nichols Michaels] had just given me, we wore the same size shoe and she had just given me my first heels but I couldn't wear them. My, my mother said they'll have to be saved 'til you're old enough right? And I'm fourteen and, and mother, and I'm getting ready to leave and I'm looking as old as I can and you know sophisticated as I can, and mother brings out these heels and said, "Try them on," and they worked perfectly with my--and Carmencita had said, "Get her down here to the hotel immediately," because--from school, and I was, you can't imagine my first pair of heels and I got on the, the elevated line ["L"], which went down to subway and went to the hotel and I walked in with this beautiful suit that my sister, older sister, one of my older sisters had given me and these high heels that the other one had given me and the gloves and my hair was long so, but it was always worn in school in braids and you know like that, and my other--combed it down for me and I walked in there and Carmencita and, and the Ernie Byfield and, and everybody was up on the stage and, and I'm going gulp, and I straightened my shoulders and I walked up, and the stage is not like that, it's like that, and I walked up on it and they're sitting in chairs on, talking on the stage and because she doesn't have to audition, she already, he already knows how, how great she is and so I go up there and I don't--it doesn't occur to me that there's steps on, over either side, so I go up (laughter) and I and I, and I put my hand out, Ernie Byfield goes--Carmencita was, everything she could do to keep from a--keep a straight face and I, I was a really accomplished dancer at that time and I just raised up and sat on the stage and, "Thank you, sir," and (laughter) talking to the owner of half of downtown Chicago [Illinois] and, and that was it. He said if she's with the, with the--and Carmencita was the lead and, and, and Carmencita [sic. Ernie Byfield] said, "Now if you could just find me someone to match you," and I had, and she had two big guys, magnificent dancers with magnificent bodies and that was Carmencita Romero and her dancers, and her dancers were, and that was my first professional job, and of course I had to have my mother or father [Samuel Nichols, Sr.] or both come to the--to take me down--so after school, and I had to keep whatever grade that I had in school, I had to maintain it. Well I happened to have an A. I been working so hard towards that A and I've got an A and I've gotta maintain an A and, which is the highest score, you know; and, and I did because I was--anything to work, to be able to work at that wonderful profess- as a professional.$I often wondered how--who named your character, Uhura?$$ Who named what?$$Your character in 'Star Trek,' Uhura, who named--$$ Guess who?$$I would guess you, but I'm not sure.$$ Of course. That was one of those lunches (laughter). That was one of those lunches and, and he says (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Where does the name--$$--but I want her to be different. I don't want her to be ordinary and, and I said, "Well, she can be from, from--her parents can be from South Africa," right? And so he said he liked that. And, and that, that keeps her in two places you know as an American black and as the parents that have that history.$$Yeah, so the African root and--$$ The African roots yes, and everything and yet she's very American, you know. And, and, oh you're bringing up stuff that I'd forgotten; and Gene was very excited about it and he had--oh my god, he's an incredible man, Gene Roddenberry, and he took me to lunch and we talked about, and it was early, too early for lunch. It was about ten o'clock instead of the noon time that, and it was right around the corner from where we're working and, and he would pick my brain, that I found out later, that's what he was doing you know. I mean he was so obvious about it you know. He wanted me to know and, and we were a great team together. We were a great team together.$$So you, what you're saying here is that you know-- not only played the role of Uhura--$$ Um-hm.$$--you developed the role of Uhura.$$ Oh yes and, and I, I told him who her parents came from and how she got that name and, and the whole thing. He let me--when it came to that character he let me, he gave me full, full range. He gave me full range. It was just amazing and of course I was so excited you know. I'm just (makes sounds) and, "Guess what else I am thinking?" And he used just about everything, and I was just so excited and he says, "And guess who's gonna play her?" And I said, "Well it better be me" (laughter), but at first to tell you the truth, I wasn't thinking, I wasn't thinking as I was working then, yeah.

Jackee Harry

Jackée Harry was born Jacqueline Yvonee Harry on August 14, 1956 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, but was raised in Harlem, New York, by her mother Flossie Harry. At the age of fourteen, Harry landed the lead role of the “King” in her school’s production of The King and I. After graduating from New York City’s High School of Music and Art, Harry attended the University of Long Island in Brooklyn, New York, where she earned her B.A. degree in education.

Harry began her career as a history teacher at Brooklyn Technical High School. After two years of teaching, she departed from her profession and pursued a career in acting. Harry received acting lessons at the Henry Street Settlement on the Lower East Side in New York City and made her acting debut in 1973, with a small part in a play written by Richard Wesley. She then starred in A Broadway Musical as a chorus girl. In 1983, Harry made her television debut by acting opposite the then-unknown Morgan Freeman in the daytime soap opera, Another World.

In 1985, Harry found her signature role, starring as “Sandra Clark” on the NBC sitcom 227. As the breakout star of the show, she became the first African American to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. Her performance on 227 inspired NBC producers to create at television pilot for her entitled Jackée. After leaving the cast of 227 in 1989, Harry starred opposite Oprah Winfrey in the adaptation of Gloria Naylor’s novel, The Women of Brewster Place. In 1991, Harry was a part of an all-star cast that included Redd Foxx and Della Reese when she played the role of “Ruth ‘CoCo’ Royal” in The Royal Family. From 1994 to 1999, Harry starred as the adoptive mother of Tia and Tamera Mowry’s characters in the ABC sitcom, Sister, Sister and won NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for two consecutive years in 1999 and 2000.

In 1994, Harry made her return to the theater by starring as “Billie Holiday” in the play Lady Day at Emersons Bar and Grill. Following that stage production, she fulfilled the role of “madam who runs a bordello” in the Broadway Musical The Boys From Syracuse, a play based on William Shakespeare’s classic The Comedy of Errors. Harry appeared on the second season of VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club in 2005, where she lost a total of thirty-nine pounds over 100 days. Her achievement marked one of the top weight losses in the history of the show. Harry’s other television credits include guest appearances on Amen, Designing Women, Dave’s World, Hollywood Squares, 7th Heaven, That’s So Raven and Everybody Hates Chris.

Accession Number

A2007.323

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/6/2007

Last Name

Harry

Maker Category
Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts

P.S. 197 John B. Russwurm School

Riverdale Country School

Junior High School 136

Long Island University

First Name

Jackee

Birth City, State, Country

Winston-Salem

HM ID

HAR28

Favorite Season

Fall

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Show You Better Than I Can Tell You.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

8/14/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Chinese Food

Short Description

Television actress Jackee Harry (1956 - ) was best known for her role as Sandra Clark on the sitcom, "227," for which she became the first African American woman to win an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. Harry's other television credits included "The Women of Brewster Place," "Amen," and "Sister, Sister."

Employment

HARYOU-ACT

Brooklyn Technical High School

'The Wiz'

Favorite Color

Rust Orange, Teal

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Jackee Harry's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Jackee Harry lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Jackee Harry describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Jackee Harry describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Jackee Harry describes her grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Jackee Harry describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Jackee Harry recalls her early life in Barnwell, South Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Jackee Harry describes the Harlem neighborhood of New York City

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Jackee Harry describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Jackee Harry describes her early education

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Jackee Harry describes her relationship with her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Jackee Harry remembers the Riverdale Girls School in the Bronx, New York

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Jackee Harry describes her experiences of religion

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Jackee Harry remembers Junior High School 136 in New York City

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Jackee Harry remembers her introduction to acting

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Jackee Harry remembers her friendship with Norvalla Nelson

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Jackee Harry recalls her admission to the High School of Performing Arts in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Jackee Harry describes her start at the High School of Performing Arts

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Jackee Harry remembers the assassinations of the 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Jackee Harry remembers her first boyfriend

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Jackee Harry recalls her peers at the High School of Performing Arts

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Jackee Harry remembers the Henry Street Settlement in New York City

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Jackee Harry describes her early acting career

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Jackee Harry remembers Long Island University in Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Jackee Harry remembers teaching at Brooklyn Technical High School in Brooklyn, New York

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Jackee Harry recalls working as a dresser on Broadway, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Jackee Harry recalls working as a dresser on Broadway, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Jackee Harry remembers the national tour of 'The Wiz'

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Jackee Harry remembers her principal role in 'A Broadway Musical'

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Jackee Harry talks about 'Eubie!'

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Jackee Harry describes her marriage to Jerry Jemmott

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Jackee Harry describes the rehearsals for 'New Orleans'

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Jackee Harry describes her role on 'Another World'

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Jackee Harry remembers her divorce from Jerry Jemmott

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Jackee Harry remembers her audition for '227'

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Jackee Harry describes the filming of '227'

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Jackee Harry remembers starring in 'The Women of Brewster Place'

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Jackee Harry reflects upon her divorce

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Jackee Harry describes her television career in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Jackee Harry remembers the death of Redd Foxx

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Jackee Harry talks about her mentors

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Jackee Harry recalls starring in 'Sister, Sister'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Jackee Harry talks about her roles on 'That's So Raven' and 'Celebrity Fit Club'

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Jackee Harry describes her work on 'Everybody Hates Christ' and 'Damn Yankees'

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Jackee Harry reflects upon her life

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Jackee Harry describes her advice for aspiring actors

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Jackee Harry describes her hopes for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Jackee Harry reflects upon her life and values

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Jackee Harry reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Jackee Harry talks about the importance of history

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

2$5

DATitle
Jackee Harry recalls her admission to the High School of Performing Arts in New York City
Jackee Harry describes the filming of '227'
Transcript
So you were hanging out with the Nelsons, getting trained, having, having a functional family life (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Hanging out with white folks all the time. You know, my whole life was different from what I was living at home. I'd just go home to sleep and I'd be gone.$$So you, so you do 'The King and I' [Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II] and you get a standing ovation--$$And I loved it.$$--screams, so the bug catches at that point.$$Bad.$$(Laughter).$$And it was the last day of school [at Junior High School 136, Harriet Beecher Stowe Junior High School, New York, New York]. You know, the end of school year so was going on. And I--this a powerful thing that happened to me, a turning point. We took a test for a performance arts school--me, Valjean Dean [ph.], my then best friend, Norvalla [Norvalla Nelson], quite a few other people--for the High School of Music and Art [Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts, New York, New York]. There was the Performing Arts [High School of Performing Arts; Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts, New York, New York], there was Juilliard [The Juilliard School, New York, New York], there was the Music and Art. There were quite a few schools, but you had to take a test--academic and performance-wise. So I took the one for Music and Art, the High School of Music and Art. And me--all of us--and we came back to school and we were sitting in the class and they were talking about who got in and, and they were congratulating my best friend, Norvalla, and Valjean. And, you know, they went on. And I was very disappointed that I didn't make it. And then they all left and my teacher came up to me. She says, "Congratulations." I said, "What?" She said, "You made it, too." I said, "Nobody told me." She said, "We always knew you would--that's why." And I'll never forget it 'cause even today I carry that with me. Even as we speak--'Damn Yankees,' I've never been had--nobody has to tell me that I'm good anymore 'cause they assume you're going to be. You know, I don't need a pat on the back.$$So now they, they didn't, they--it was just so that--it was assumed they--that you were going in. That's why (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) That's what she said--$$--there was nothing--there was no reason--$$I mean she said it with such a natural face. She said, "We always knew you would." And I, I'm going, "Somebody could have told me. I could have celebrated." 'Cause I was in class--I'm happy for them but I was like how come I didn't get it, you know, inside. And when she told me, I couldn't celebrate with them. She said--she told me--she said, "Never push it," she said, "'cause you're always gonna shine," she said. "Always pull back." And, you know, I, I've tried--we know I didn't succeed (laughter).$$Do you recall her name who told you about the school announcement?$$I'm gonna get it--Ms. Klemperer, K-L-E-M-P-E-R-E-R, Nancy Klemperer.$$So she told you--so basically she was teaching you a lesson just to relax (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) And modesty.$$--at that point. She--$$Yeah, 'cause I was bit--I told you I was conceited. And she could see that.$So now developing this character. How did this get started for you to, to develop the character we all know and love?$$On the set [of '227'] on the stoop the very first scene when I come up it just--she said, "Sandra [Sandra Clark], how come you not a work?" I said, "I'm sick." The director came up. He said, "Why you doing that line like that?" He said, "Just do it normal." And, you know, we had done it in the f- "I men- I'm sick. I'm taking off." But, you know, he said, "Why you doing that?" And so I start to say, okay. She said, "Sandra, you going to work?" I said, "Oh, yeah, I'm sick, you know, I'm taking off" so-and-so. Brandon Tartikoff called down to the set, rings it, "What's going on down there? She was funny for the--what you all doing?" And he told the director. The director said, "Uh, go back to what you were doing." And--$$He's up in the booth listening and watching.$$He's on his monitor in his office. And they said--and he told me, the director, then, he said, "Jackee [HistoryMaker Jackee Harry], you can't upstage the star." And I didn't know that. I was just being funny like I always--. Had I known then what he's telling me, I would not have done--I'll tell you the truth 'cause I did not know that. I was just being funny. And she said, "No, more, more, more." And they kept going more, more, more. Well, honey, once they said that I just turned loose.$$The horse was out the barn at that point.$$And they came back that day and gave me a new contract for a regular on the show, so--$$So the writers got busy.$$Now, tell us about Ms. Gibbs and you and her, your association on the set with her, especially after you've done this now.$$We're, well, I'll just start by saying this, life can come full circle. And I, I tell this to everybody. Me and [HistoryMaker] Marla Gibbs and like this now (gesture). We weren't then. I adore her. She's good people. And she told me, she said people were just putting stuff in her ear and she was listening to it--that she's stealing the show. She's doing this, she's doing--I was being funny because that's way I naturally am even today. But, I hear what they're saying now. I was pushing that envelope and you don't do that. You know, I recognize it now. But, I had been other shows and I, I thought, well, if they're so funny why don't you spin 'em off. They're so funny, spin 'em off and have two. That's the way I thought, you know. And--but it was, it was stressful and a strain. It really was 'cause I had no idea. The day I got my Emmy [Emmy Award]--I won the Emmy. I came back to work. Nobody congratulated me--not a single soul. But it goes back to what my teacher told me, "We just knew you would." So--and it still happens to me today. I don't get, "Oh, that's great! I was so happy for you!" I always get, "Oh, we knew," you know.$$So, so things are kind of strained on the set--as, as we hear many shows are because what we see as an audience is not, you know--oh, and actually (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Absolutely.$$--any kind of--any kind of production of anything--$$Any kind.$$You never know from, from six o'clock news.$$You don't know who's gonna be the breakout.$$Right. So you stay there for--how long was '227'? How many years?$$Five years.$$Five years, a five-year run.$$And they tried to spin me off. It didn't make it for different reasons--$$Right.$$--which I know about, so--but it was very successful--$$What was the name of the spinoff show?$$'Jackee.'$$Yeah, that's right.$$It didn't work. But I didn't have stuff in place. You gotta have your stuff in place to--you know, I didn't know that meant. What I know now, even if I knew it then, wouldn't have made any difference--TV, the politics.

Marla Gibbs

Television actress Marla Gibbs was born on June 14, 1931 to Douglas Bradley and Ophelia Kemp in Chicago, Illinois. After graduating from Wendell Phillips High School in 1949, Gibbs attended secretarial school and went to work at Service Bindery in Chicago. She then was hired, at Gotham Hotel in Detroit, Michigan, and later worked for Detroit Street Railways (DSR). Gibbs worked for United Airlines as a receptionist. After being transferred to Detroit and later Los Angeles, she took acting classes at the Mafundi Institute and the Watts Writers’ Workshop. In the early 1970s, Gibbs was cast in theatrical roles at the Zodiac Theater and small roles in “made for TV” movies. In 1973, Gibbs had a major supporting role in the 1973 movie Sweet Jesus, Preacher Man.

Gibbs’ big break came in 1975 at the age of forty-four when she was hired for a bit part as a household domestic named “Florence” in the CBS show The Jeffersons, a spin-off of All In The Family. Her character was a hit, and the writers decided to keep her on full-time. Gibbs quit her job at United Airlines only after the show gained widespread popularity, and she appeared in the television program as one of the main characters for all eleven seasons. The Jeffersons was one of the top ten rated television shows for four different years (1975, 1980, 1981 and 1982). Gibbs was nominated for prime-time Emmy Awards four times for Best Supporting Actress in a comedy series, for her role on The Jeffersons. After the show ended, Gibbs bought the rights to a play that was produced by her daughter, Angela Gibbs, called 227 and sold the show to NBC, where she played the lead role (“Mary Jenkins”) for five successful seasons.

Gibbs owned and operated Marla’s Memory Lane, a jazz club and restaurant. Her daughter, Angela, founded the Cross Roads Theater Company in Leimart Park, Los Angeles, and Gibbs owned and operated the Vision Theater Complex. She continues to play guest roles on television and is still involved in the theater. Gibbs has performed dinner theater in Overland Park, Kansas at the New Theatre Company where she was showcased in Neil Simon’s play, Proposals.

Marla Gibbs was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 8, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.199

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/8/2007

Last Name

Gibbs

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

Wendell Phillips Academy High School

Corpus Christi Elementary School

St. Elizabeth Catholic School

Northern High School

Cortez Peters Business College

First Name

Marla

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

GIB07

Favorite Season

Summer

Sponsor

Carol H. Williams Advertising

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Maui, Hawaii, Nassau, Bahamas

Favorite Quote

Stay In The Now.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

6/14/1931

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Salmon

Short Description

Television actress Marla Gibbs (1931 - ) was best known for her role as "Florence" on The Jeffersons. She also starred in her own sitcom, 227.

Employment

Gotham Hotel

Detroit. Dept. of Street Railways

United Airlines

Marla's Memory Lane

Jeffersons (Television program)

Moneychangers

Cross Roads Theater

227 (Television Program)

Vision Theater Complex

New Theater Company

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Beige, Black, Green, Pink, Purple, Red, White

Timing Pairs
219,0:1971,39:2336,45:3212,59:4015,70:6570,146:10731,219:11242,228:11753,240:13067,281:25070,430:27930,457:36325,656:36617,661:36982,667:37347,673:38515,700:39026,708:39537,717:48560,915:55940,971:62298,1059:63195,1074:63885,1093:72502,1231:82310,1361:82610,1366:85790,1417:106364,1706:107417,1725:114636,1879:121608,1982:124864,2050:145372,2300:148646,2313:149390,2328:152738,2414:153482,2450:155342,2488:155652,2494:165116,2607:167789,2814:195680,2997$0,0:11124,159:13460,201:20249,388:20614,397:28276,473:29680,499:56805,947:57315,955:59940,980:60390,987:61890,1072:63690,1113:71060,1166:72644,1212:73436,1230:74228,1245:81841,1310:82303,1318:87154,1430:100572,1619:105828,1767:106260,1774:106548,1779:106980,1788:115472,1857:139197,2234:149374,2326:160848,2429:170280,2619
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Marla Gibbs' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Marla Gibbs lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Marla Gibbs describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Marla Gibbs describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Marla Gibbs describes her mother's occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Marla Gibbs recalls her mother's numbers operation

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Marla Gibbs describes her father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Marla Gibbs describes her stepfather and stepsister

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Marla Gibbs recalls her summers in Racine, Wisconsin

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Marla Gibbs recalls marrying Jordan Gibbs, Sr.

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Marla Gibbs lists her children

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Marla Gibbs lists her grandchildren and great-grandchildren

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Marla Gibbs describes her family's celebrations

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Marla Gibbs lists her high schools

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Marla Gibbs describes her early personality

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Marla Gibbs describes her activities in high school

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Marla Gibbs talks about her non-profit organizational activities

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Marla Gibbs describes her spirituality

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Marla Gibbs talks about her health

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Marla Gibbs describes her jazz album, 'It's Never Too Late'

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Marla Gibbs talks about her interest in tennis

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Marla Gibbs remembers the alumni of Wendell Phillips High School

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Marla Gibbs describes her early work experiences

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Marla Gibbs recalls working for United Airlines in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Marla Gibbs recalls her early acting career

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Marla Gibbs recalls auditioning for film roles

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Marla Gibbs recalls buying the Memory Lane jazz club in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Marla Gibbs recalls opening Marla's Memory Lane Supper Club in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Marla Gibbs describes her two non-profit organizations

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Marla Gibbs describes her character, Florence Johnston, on 'The Jeffersons'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Marla Gibbs recalls acting with Sherman Hemsley on 'The Jeffersons'

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Marla Gibbs describes the cast of 'The Jeffersons,' pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Marla Gibbs describes the cast of 'The Jeffersons,' pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Marla Gibbs reflects upon the social impact of 'The Jeffersons'

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Marla Gibbs reflects upon the universal appeal of 'The Jeffersons'

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Marla Gibbs recalls meeting actor Billy Dee Williams

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Marla Gibbs talks about the Emmy Awards

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Marla Gibbs describes the popularity of her character, Florence Johnston

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Marla Gibbs recalls creating the television show '227'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Marla Gibbs remembers an episode of '227' about homelessness

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Marla Gibbs describes the cast of '227'

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Marla Gibbs reflects upon the success of '227'

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Marla Gibbs talks about The Vision Theatre in Los Angeles, California

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Marla Gibbs describes her plans for the future

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Marla Gibbs remembers her stepsister, Susie Garrett

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Marla Gibbs talks about her brain aneurysm

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Marla Gibbs remembers recovering from a brain aneurysm, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Marla Gibbs remembers recovering from her brain aneurysm, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Marla Gibbs remembers her birthday celebration in Overland Park, Kansas

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Marla Gibbs talks about her celebrity acquaintances

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Marla Gibbs describes her plan to write her autobiography

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$5

DAStory

2$6

DATitle
Marla Gibbs describes the popularity of her character, Florence Johnston
Marla Gibbs reflects upon the success of '227'
Transcript
When you played Florence Johnston, the black community was just alive with that show--the white community and all communities were alive, but the black community was alive. How were you received by the black community when you played that role?$$With a lot of love, with a lot of love from everybody, really, but in the black community in particular. People were, youngsters were--I was concerned that they would think it was a stereotype, but youngsters were trying to find somebody in their family who had been a maid, or was a maid. "Well, you know, my mama was a maid, or I had an aunt who was a maid." They wanted to identify, you know, and I was very happy about that, that they saw her as someone close to them. And today, they still do it. There was a white girl coming down to the office. I was coming out of, what do you call it, a commercial interview. And before I could get to the car, she was coming up to me, and she just said, "I just love you, I just love your work." People come up to me with love all the time, and that's been the most rewarding thing. I was in a Korean bathhouse, and the girl that was working for me came. She said, "I'm going to take you over there." So, you know, they scrub you down, then they massage you. So, we were in there, and nobody spoke English. And I was sitting in the front waiting for them to come back, and these ladies started pointing at me, and coming up, and I said, "What are they doing?" Then one of them said, "Jefferson," and I got so tickled. You'd be surprised. And I said, how do they know?$$If I may give you a compliment, you say the love they give you--but every time I see you, every time I've always seen you, there's always love coming back from you to other people. And we thank you (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Well, that's what we are. We know we are loved, and like, I like to hug people, primarily because the young man, Horace Tapscott, always felt like touching was important, and that came to me. So, people always say to me, "I want a hug, can I have a hug?" And I'd say, "Yes." A lot of people want an autograph, but a lot of people want a hug. We went to the island of Sardinia [Italy], (pronunciation) Sardania they call it, we call it (pronunciation) Sardinia. And when we arrived at the airport, I'm walking in the airport and these people start rushing towards me, and I said, "Oh, there's something that I don't know, because I'm in a strange country." I mean, here's all these people running at me, and they got close and they started saying, "Florence, Florence," and the show was running then, in Italian. And I got a chance to see it, and the dubbing was so flawless, I couldn't realize what I was really saying there, in English. But, it was so good, and it was a big hit over there.$$Well, that was an experience a lot of us will never ever forget, 'The Jeffersons.' As they said, "We're moving on up to the East Side," (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yeah.$$Moving on up.$But the show, '227,' to get that kind of an ensemble cast together, it furthered your career.$$The show is the star. When you treat the show like a star, you come out on top every time. But when one person wants to be star, and everything revolves around them, there's a problem. So, I told them, "Jackee [HistoryMaker Jackee Harry] is good. You can give her the A show, but I got to have the family." They wanted the show to be me and Jackee, and I said, "It doesn't work, our rhythms are too different." I said, "Jackee can do what she does with a rabbit, with a mirror, by herself, she does not need me, you know." I said, "That works for her, I don't want to change it, it works for her. It doesn't work for me." I said, "I have to have something--you have to hit me the ball and I'll hit it back, and you got to hit back again. If I hit the ball to Jackee, she may not hit it back." (Laughter) Because Jackee was more interested in being a star, and that's the way people thought coming up in New York [New York], you know. Who was the star? Who was this, that and the other, and I wasn't used to that. I was used to being number nine on a hit show that I worked up to be number three on, but I never forgot that number one and number two were the stars. And it worked. I said, "You got the best of both worlds. You can give her the A story if you want, and give us the B story, but as long as you give me the family, I'm fine." And that's what kept the show. I said, "Besides, people would not believe that I would let Jackee in my house. Why would I let her in?" I said, "I let her in because Rose [Rose Lee Holloway] is knocking on the door." I said, "And when she gets on my nerves, I can't hit her because Rose gets in between us." So, that's what makes it real.$$I see Nia Long was in the original production that you worked with. You had some great artists at Crossroads [Crossroads Arts Academy and Theater, Los Angeles, California]. You had some great artists.$$Nia Long was in which production?$$Nia Long starred in the original production of '227' [Christine Houston] at Crossroads? Was she an original in it?$$(Shakes head).$$Do you know a fellow by the name of Dasch Hadu?$$Sounds familiar.$$Glenn Towery?$$Yeah, oh yes.$$He is my dear friend.$$We wanted him for the play we did. He played the wolf boy, and he was perfect, but Ed Cambridge would not cast him in that role.$$He's doing some work here in town. Yes (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) We fought for him. Glen Towery.$$Glen Towery. Yeah, he changed his name. I think he goes by the name of Dasch Hadu.$$Yeah.$$Yes.

Lorraine Toussaint

Actress of stage and screen Lorraine Toussaint was born April 4, 1960, in Trinidad, in the West Indies. At the age of ten, her family relocated to New York City, where a young Toussaint was intrigued when she came upon a large ad in the telephone book for a theater school. Finding her calling in the performing arts, Toussaint attended the renowned High School of Performing Arts and then went on to attend the Juilliard School.

Toussaint landed her first paying acting job on the day she received her diploma from Juilliard, playing Lady MacBeth with “Shakespeare & Company” in New York. She spent the next twelve years on stage in New York before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film and television. Her decision to move proved right, with Toussaint landing numerous roles on a variety of television programs, including recurring roles on Law & Order and Murder One and regular lead roles on Leaving L.A., Where I Live and Amazing Grace. She also appeared in numerous made-for-television movies, including the mini-series Queen based on the novel by Alex Haley.

Toussaint starred for four seasons on the Lifetime Television drama Any Day Now as Rene Jackson. Her work on the program garnered her four NAACP Image Award nominations for Best Actress in a Drama Series; a T.V. Guide Award nomination; and a Wiley A. Branton Award from the National Bar Association. Toussaint has also appeared in a number of films, including Point of No Return, starring alongside Bridget Fonda and Dangerous Minds, with Michelle Pfeiffer. Toussaint has also appeared on the television series Crossing Jordan, Judging Amy, The Closer and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. She also appeared in the made-for-television movie version of Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God with Halle Berry and Ruby Dee.

Accession Number

A2004.195

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/6/2004

Last Name

Toussaint

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts

First Name

Lorraine

HM ID

TOU01

Favorite Season

Summer

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

4/4/1960

Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

Trinidad & Tobago

Favorite Food

Stewed Ox Tails

Short Description

Film actress and television actress Lorraine Toussaint (1960 - ) has been nominated for four NAACP Image Awards, and starred in four seasons on the Lifetime Television drama, "Any Day Now," as Rene Jackson. Toussaint has also appeared in a number of films and television shows, including, "Point of No Return," starring alongside Bridget Fonda, and, "Dangerous Minds," with Michelle Pfeiffer.

Favorite Color

Yellow

Timing Pairs
0,0:2499,11:3471,34:4119,44:4605,51:5091,58:5415,63:8331,137:9708,176:10194,188:10518,193:17666,279:18011,286:19322,311:19943,322:20840,338:21185,344:21461,349:22358,367:22703,387:23048,393:27184,436:27776,446:28072,451:28516,459:30652,487:32312,513:32893,523:33474,531:34802,551:39166,582:42979,623:43816,634:45490,658:48001,685:51349,734:56600,748:58118,777:58448,783:59306,806:59570,811:60098,825:60428,833:61880,868:62144,873:67065,895:67830,906:68595,916:69700,928:73100,1013:73695,1043:75055,1074:75480,1080:76075,1092:76415,1098:76755,1103:77775,1115:78540,1125:83050,1163:83590,1170:85660,1198:86110,1204:87910,1261:90430,1318:91060,1326:91690,1335:92140,1347:92860,1357:97220,1383:97857,1393:98494,1402:98949,1408:99768,1416:100314,1425:100860,1433:101315,1439:101952,1448:106640,1474:107360,1492:107680,1497:108320,1507:110747,1528:111101,1537:111750,1554:112163,1563:114503,1579:114819,1604:116557,1633:120996,1703:121368,1710:121678,1716:122174,1730:122608,1738:122856,1745:123414,1758:123724,1764:127134,1838:128560,1862:128932,1869:129180,1874:129738,1885:129986,1892:130296,1898:130668,1905:131164,1915:131846,1928:132714,1950:135974,1965:138665,2001:140225,2033:140485,2038:141005,2048:141720,2061:146940,2128:147785,2145:148110,2151:149280,2177:149995,2189:150710,2203:151555,2223:151945,2230:152335,2238:153505,2264:154025,2277:154415,2285:157035,2290$0,0:3290,85:3939,106:5886,153:6476,165:7066,180:7951,198:9072,226:10901,283:11609,298:12435,313:13084,326:13438,334:13851,343:16683,407:21930,433:24148,453:27877,477:28231,484:28526,490:32184,572:32538,579:32774,584:33305,602:34426,775:34898,784:35606,802:36373,825:36904,836:37199,842:37789,858:38084,864:38969,883:42850,888:43284,897:43966,910:44214,915:44586,923:47952,955:48536,966:50361,1001:51237,1014:54940,1041:56201,1058:60566,1116:60954,1122:61342,1127:64685,1140:66205,1162:70660,1199:71540,1212:72820,1232:73380,1243:73860,1250:76126,1260:77440,1295:88220,1438:88600,1443:92685,1528:93255,1536:98819,1571:99207,1576:101514,1585:102378,1608:102882,1618:106050,1684:106698,1694:111306,1804:111666,1810:111954,1815:115410,1829:115900,1838:116250,1844:116600,1850:117160,1860:119260,1870:121590,1889:123480,1917:123840,1922:124200,1928:124830,1937:125190,1942:125640,1948:126450,1959:128520,1999:129330,2010:130950,2034:133200,2064:143030,2103:143420,2111:143680,2116:144460,2131:144980,2140:145240,2146:145890,2158:146865,2185:147645,2195:148100,2203:163740,2491:166290,2538:168060,2551
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Lorraine Toussaint interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Lorraine Toussaint lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lorraine Toussaint recalls her mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Lorraine Toussaint recounts her mother's life

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Lorraine Toussaint discusses well-known black leaders and writers from Trinidad

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Lorraine Toussaint remembers her father's background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Lorraine Toussaint discusses color politics in Trinidad

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Lorraine Toussaint recalls meeting her father's family in the rural area of Trinidad

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Lorraine Toussaint describes her father and talks about her parents' courtship

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Lorraine Toussaint shares childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Lorraine Toussaint recalls her personality as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Lorraine Toussaint recounts her mother's personality

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Lorraine Toussaint talks about her mother's move to the U.S. without her

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Lorraine Toussaint recounts finally joining her mother in the United States

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Lorraine Toussaint recalls immigrating to the United States

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Lorraine Toussaint remembers her first fight

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Lorraine Toussaint recounts her elementary school years

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Lorraine Toussaint details how she got into the High School for Performing Arts

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Lorraine Toussaint remembers high school and her mother's illness

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Lorraine Toussaint recalls high school and her mother's struggle with MS

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Lorraine Toussaint describes the strict educational discipline at the Juilliard School

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Lorraine Toussaint remembers being either "too black" or "not black enough" for the acting world

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Lorraine Toussaint discusses her acting roles and other actors she's worked with

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Lorraine Toussaint lists her role models

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Lorraine Toussaint discusses her approach to acting

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Lorraine Toussaint details her acting method

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Lorraine Toussaint details the advice actress Sally Field gave regarding acting

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Lorraine Toussaint recalls her reaction to Toni Morrison's writing

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Lorraine Toussaint remembers her first television role

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Lorraine Toussaint recounts her work in the movie 'Queen'

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Lorraine Toussaint discusses the making of 'Hudson Hawk'

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Lorraine Toussaint lists the movies in which her character is killed

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Lorraine Toussaint remembers her character in 'Queen'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Lorraine Toussaint recalls her first movie with a black director

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Lorraine Toussaint reviews the highlights of her career

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Lorraine Toussaint talks about inspiring others her role in the series 'Any Day Now'

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Lorraine Toussaint shares her concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Lorraine Toussaint expresses her hopes for African Americans in the acting profession in Hollywood

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Lorraine Toussaint comments on her past and future career

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Lorraine Toussaint considers her legacy

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$4

DAStory

2$2

DATitle
Lorraine Toussaint reviews the highlights of her career
Lorraine Toussaint describes the strict educational discipline at the Juilliard School
Transcript
Now, well, just give us kind of a review of things you've been involved in, I mean things that you want to talk about that you think are highlights of--,$$(Simultaneously) Oh, sure.$$--of your career.$$You know, once I moved out to L.A. [Los Angeles, California] I got to do the first, several episodes--a good handful of episodes on the first five years of 'Law and Order' [TV series], which were thrilling, thrilling, thrilling. I'd never had that kind of writing anywhere but on the stage, and to--it was the days when Michael Moriarty was at his best. And he adored me, and I adored him. We, we would see each other coming and knew it was on. It was like on--and as actors, we just indulged ourselves with each other. It was like playland because anything--it was all about what we could throw at each other and how fast or hard and--or high we could hit the ball back. And those were wonderful, wonderful days in New York [New York], I mean guerrilla, guerrilla T.V., you know, in the snow and the, in Midtown [Manhattan, New York] traffic. It was Oh, you know, being paid at the time, very little, but wonderful work, and lives on. I mean there are people today, some fifteen--twelve years later that come up and talk to me about, 'Law and Order' things. 'Nightjohn' [TV movie, 1996] was certainly one, another piece of work that I really am proud of. I've been, you know, the queen of doing pilots, many of, many of which have not survived. (laughs) Of the series, I've done five series to date. There was one that was very short-lived that was called 'Leaving L.A.' [TV series, 1997], which was Bay--which was the precursor to that one on, on HBO [Home Box Office, cable network] now that's about death and the funeral home. This was all about death.$$'Six Feet Under'.$$Yes, it was the, it was the original 'Six Feet Under', and I--it was a series well before its time. Nancy Miller wrote and produced it, what a wonderful--who also wrote and produced 'Any Day Now' [TV series], which is where we met. And she then wrote the role of Rene Jackson for me in 'Any Day Now'. But that was a wonderful series, where it was all about death, and but death is a fascinating subject to me personally. I, I'm rather fond of death. And it was really nice to be a part of that.$Is there any about the Juilliard [School, New York, New York] experience you want to tell us during those days?$$I loved those Juilliard years. I was a creature of discipline and Juilliard was all about discipline, I mean it really was. A lot of people had problems with Juilliard because it was systematically breaking you down in terms of breaking all of the habits that you had developed up until that point as an artist--as an actor. Artist is a very rarified word, and taking those from you, and then giving you new ones. But I was so young, I was one of the few people that came right out of high school [High School of the Performing Arts, later Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art and Performing Arts, New York City, New York], so I was one of the youngest people. I had no life. I had no, I had nothing to break down. So I was still very malleable and very open and available to that kind of discipline. I, I felt like the rest of my life, my personal life was, was so scary and so chaotic and so on the edge that to have the structure that Juilliard provided--and it was very rigid, very, very rigid, was a lifesaver to me again because it, it balanced my life. It balanced the kind of uncertainty that I was living with, you know, while I was at Juilliard, my mother [Janet Angela Beane Toussaint] was in the hospital a lot--Kaia, no (laughs). My dog, Kaia is--.$$(Simultaneously) I don't think we can hear that.$$--a dear part of my life. So--.$$How do you spell her name?$$Kaia, K-A-I-A. She's a standard poodle, and my pal and my dear friend. That kind of rigidity, that, the discipline that Juilliard offered was a lifesaver. So I, I had a wonderful time. I, you know, the interesting thing about Juilliard is, all through those years, I didn't know anything about race prejudice. I began to learn about racism at Juilliard because (pauses) I remember I was doing--in my last year, when you were being groomed to come out. You were almost having a big coming out party, where agents and managers and everyone sort of came to see the new 'crop'. And I was doing a play called 'Love's Labour's Lost' directed by Michael Langham, who was a wonderful British Canadian director--ah, what a master in [William] Shakespeare he was because--but I had been trained through Juilliard to do only the classics. My God, when I got out of Juilliard--I'm jumping around a little bit--when I got out of Juilliard and I tried to go to NEC, the Negro Ensemble Company, to get a job--oh, Lord, I just wasn't black enough.

T'Keyah Crystal Keymah

Actress T’Keyah Crystal Keymáh was born in Chicago, Illinois, on October 13, 1962. By the age of three, Keymáh was singing and dancing, and in high school she joined the Mary Wong Comedy Group. After high school, Keymáh attended Florida A & M University’s School of Business and Industry.

While attending Florida A & M, Keymáh began teaching theater, dance, and pantomime. Upon graduation, she returned to her native Chicago, where she worked as a substitute teacher while performing at some of the city’s most renowned theaters, including ETA and the Goodman. Keymáh first broke onto the television scene with a role on Quantum Leap in 1989; the following year, she joined the cast of In Living Color. During Keymáh's five years with In Living Color, she was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and a Soul Train Comedy Award. Over the next several years, Keymáh was a cast member in a number of other television shows, including On Our Own, Waynehead, The Show, and, most notably, as Bill Cosby’s daughter on Cosby. Keymáh also had roles on Roc, The Commish, and The John Larroquette Show, as well as doing voice-over work on Batman Beyond and Pinky and the Brain. Keymáh also made several movie appearances, including Jackie Brown and The Gilded Six Bit.

Keymáh went on to do a variety show, T’Keyah Live!…Mostly: A True Variety Show, which received rave reviews; she also appeared on the Disney Channel’s highly rated program, That’s So Raven. Keymáh produced the acclaimed short film Circle of Pain and was the executive producer of One Last Time.

In addition to her acting and producing, Keymáh is the author of Natural Woman / Natural Hair: Hairstyles and Hairstories From the Front; she also co-hosted the national ACT-SO awards, and the Orange and Aloha Bowl parades. Keymáh's alma mater, Florida A & M, has given her their second highest honor, the Meritorious Award; she is also listed among their 100 most influential FAMUans of the Century.

Accession Number

A2004.194

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/6/2004 |and| 11/17/2004 |and| 2/23/2005

Last Name

Keymah

Maker Category
Middle Name

Crystal

Organizations
Schools

Saint Sabina Academy

Academy of Our Lady

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

T'Keyah

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

KEY01

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $5,000 - $10,000

Favorite Season

Fall

Speaker Bureau Notes

Additional Documentation in Wid-West and West Coast SB, Front Office.

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Gambia

Favorite Quote

Love And Forgive.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

10/13/1962

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Broccoli

Short Description

Stage actress and television actress T'Keyah Crystal Keymah (1962 - ) has enjoyed a long career in film and television. Keymah's credits include appearances in In Living Color, The Show, Cosby, The Commish, Pinky and the Brain, That's So Raven, and the films Jackie Brown and The Gilded Six Bit.

Favorite Color

Orange, Purple

Timing Pairs
0,0:6654,104:7494,115:11946,170:12282,175:20888,267:22232,289:22736,296:23408,310:23912,317:24584,326:25172,334:26684,354:30128,416:31808,446:32144,451:33404,473:33908,480:47546,704:50042,757:50510,764:50822,769:51290,777:69190,954:69940,970:86700,1198:90140,1255:97504,1327:106396,1469:123144,1701:123873,1717:124197,1723:133431,1944:133917,1961:134565,1971:135051,1986:143664,2097:148960,2177$0,0:7058,97:21060,275:28020,401:31860,462:32260,468:34180,506:38980,609:47932,689:49228,712:49660,719:68974,1036:70001,1061:71028,1077:97441,1542:97952,1551:106376,1650:107168,1660:109350,1680
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of T'Keyah Crystal Keymah's interview and the origin of her name

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah explains how she chose her name

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Continued slating of T'Keyah Crystal Keymah's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her maternal family history, pt.1

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her maternal family history, pt.2

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her maternal family history, pt.3

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her maternal grandparents, Mary Louise Zeno and Carneil Carter

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah recalls her paternal family history

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her father, William Walker, Sr.

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about Auburn Gresham, her childhood neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about segregation in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her childhood personality

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her grade school years and her love of theatre

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes influential figures during her childhood years

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her teachers and her first play

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her favorite movies and TV shows as a young girl

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about joining the mime troupe at the Academy of Our Lady in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her family's engagement with the Civil Rights movement

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Second slating of T'Keyah Crystal Keymah's interview

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her performance outlets like her family, choir, mime troupe, and cheerleading

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her high school experience at Academy of Our Lady in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her teachers at Academy of Our Lady in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about black theatre companies in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about the staff at Academy of Our Lady and her experiences on public transit as a high school student

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her most memorable moment from St. Sabina Academy

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her acting experiences at Academy of Our Lady High School, pt.1

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her acting experiences at Academy of Our Lady High School, pt.2

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her activities at Academy of Our Lady in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about challenging her Catholic faith and discovering her black heritage

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about embracing her black heritage and running for senior class president

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about Cathy Williams, her talented classmate

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes other fellow high school classmates who were performers

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her focus on theater in high school

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her decision to attend Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, pt.1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her decision to attend Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida, pt.2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah remembers her decision to attend Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah recalls her first impressions of Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her experience in the business school at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about the theater scene at Florida A& M University in Tallahassee, Florida

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her decision to switch her major from business to theater

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her experience in the theater department at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her senior year at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her exposure to black plays and her opinion on "black theater"

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah recalls the impact of reading Ntozake Shange's "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide"

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah speaks of her choosing to graduate versus obtaining her master's degree in theatre

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her favorite professor, Dr. Theodore Hemingway

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her path to winning the 1984 National Miss Black and Gold Pageant

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah remembers trying to find an acting job in Chicago and competing in the Miss Black Illinois Pageant

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah reflects upon lessons learned from competing in pageants, pt.1

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah reflects upon lessons learned from competing in pageants, pt.2

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about joining the eta's production, "The Regal Theater"

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes the early years of her acting career in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about getting her SAG card while working as a stunt double in "Big Shots"

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah remembers auditioning for "In Living Color"

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her television career and "Some of My Best Friends"

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about "In Black World," her signature piece on "In Living Color"

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah recalls fighting for writing credit and her name change to appear on "In Living Color"

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah recalls challenges during her tenure on "In Living Color"

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about using "Some of My Best Friends" to highlight society's invisible voices

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about the necessity of writing as a performer

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about producing her first film, "One Last Time"

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about the racism she encountered in the production of "Circle of Pain" and in the entertainment industry

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about "Tales from the Hood" and director Rusty Cundieff

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her television work on "Cosby," "In Living Color," and "The Show"

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her experience on "Cosby"

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about personal development as an actress, dancer, and singer

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah recalls her experiences performing in Senegal and Russia

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Final slating of T'Keyah Crystal Keymah's interview

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah recounts her grandparents' encounters with historic figures

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her experience on "On Our Own," "The Show," and "Roc"

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes performing in Russia

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah shares her memories from "Cosby"

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about Bill Cosby

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about the "Cosby" show's popularity and her experiences there

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about the end of the "Cosby" show and a Chicago production of "A Raisin in the Sun"

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about "A Raisin in the Sun" and her grandmother's battle with dementia

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about "T'Keyah Live! Mostly a True Variety Show" and being cast as a mother on "That's So Raven"

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about juggling caring for her grandmother with shooting "That's So Raven"

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah reflects upon caring for her grandmother

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes directing an episode of "That's So Raven"

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah explains why she left "That's So Raven"

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about Disney's historical racism and being a TV mom

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah laments the dearth of black writers in the entertainment industry

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about selecting roles to play as an actress

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her aspirations

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her book, "Natural Woman/Natural Hair: A Hair Journey"

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah recalls her decision to write "Natural Woman/Natural Hair: A Hair Journey"

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about publication of her book, "Natural Woman/Natural Hair: A Hair Journey"

Tape: 13 Story: 1 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes how her book, "Natural Woman/Natural Hair: A Hair Journey" was received

Tape: 13 Story: 2 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 13 Story: 3 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes what she would do differently

Tape: 13 Story: 4 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 13 Story: 5 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her family's support

Tape: 13 Story: 6 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her new project "In Black World"

Tape: 13 Story: 7 - T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about how she would like to be remembered

DASession

1$3

DATape

2$11

DAStory

9$5

DATitle
T'Keyah Crystal Keymah talks about her grade school years and her love of theatre
T'Keyah Crystal Keymah describes directing an episode of "That's So Raven"
Transcript
Okay, well, now, you went to school at St. Sabina [Academy].$$Yeah, I went to St. Sabina--$$And--yeah.$$Elementary School, graduated in 1976, went to Academy of Our Lady High School [Chicago, Illinois], graduated in '80 [1980], and performed, I started performing in school. I was in the church choir and the school choir in grammar school. I, I think that, yeah, I think that was still elementary school. In the transition from elementary to high school they had these summer programs called CEDA [Community and Economic Development Association]. I don't, I don't think they have that anymore, but it was for poor black children (laughter), give them something to do during the summer. And the job that I selected was the, the drama program. And so, during that summer, after my, my eighth grade graduation, I sung in a choir as my summer job. And out of that came--I think one of the other people from that, we formed a little, little duo dance company, and we performed liturgical dances in church. But I had been performing--like I said, I don't remember when I wasn't performing. I used to put on shows in my grandmother's living room. And in fact, the name of my show was "The Cool Crystal and Carneil Comedy Half Hour." (Laughter) And I would rope whatever cousin or sibling, you know, was willing into these shows. And we would do sketches and songs, and, and our, our big closer was the nanny from "Mary Poppins." That was like the big, you know, show closer.$$You, you can do the nanny from "Mary Poppins?"$$Yeah, yeah, it was--there's--[singing] "You must be kind. You must be witty, very smart and fairly pretty." I won't sing the whole thing (laughter).$$Okay, that's--I'm convinced.$$But that, that was the big--and I, and the whole thing, I made tickets, and no, the show started at a certain time, not at dinner time, but just before dinnertime (laughter). And you know, everyone had to be quiet and, and have a ticket. And the tickets I think, I don't know if they actually paid or anything, but I--we printed up tickets. And I, and I printed up pro--wrote up a program, and it was, it was like a real show; it was, it was a real show.$$Okay.$Okay. Well, now, the character you play on this show, "That's So Raven," now you, though you're young, you seem to have the most gravity of anybody on the--I mean you, you--'cause it's a why--it's kind of a wild cast of, of--$$Yeah.$$--of characters.$$Someone was asking me recently, I think since our last interview, must be--directed an episode of "That's So Raven," and I--it was such a wonderful experience, I have been campaigning I think on this show all three years and on "Cosby" I think all four years (unclear)--everybody no, no, no, heck no, you want us to go further (laughter). So they finally said yes, and it was such a great experience, 'cause you know, it, it's, it's a child's set. And, and pretty much I was the voice of reason (laughter) on the show, like unfortunately I am on a lot of shows that--can we just behave for them for five seconds (laughter) so we can get something done? And I thought oh, they're gonna clown me. They are gonna show their behinds, but they, they didn't. They were really, really wonderful. And it was a special episode because it was Kyle [Massey]'s, the, the little boy who plays my son, Corey, it was Corey's first kiss on the show, and Kyle was nervous as all get-out, as was the little adorable girl that played his little girlfriend. And I think it helped him a lot that his TV mom was there to say hey, honey, you--we can get through this. We're just gonna do it like this, and like this, and I got your back. You know I'm not gonna clown you, it's okay. And just the whole cast and crew was great, and now I'm just, I'm itchin' to direct something again. I, it was really, really wonderful experience, finally.

Daphne Maxwell Reid

Born Daphne Maxwell, actress Daphne Reid was born on July 13, 1948. Growing up on Manhattan’s West Side, Reid was influenced early on by her teachers to enroll in a challenging high school. Despite her initial desire to attend the Fashion Industries High School, she was swayed to attend the Bronx High School of Science. While attending Bronx Science, Reid was highly involved, serving as senior class president and joining the Group Theater Workshop. After her graduation, she received a scholarship to attend Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. While there, she was named homecoming queen, becoming the first black woman at the school to attain the title. She went on to earn her B.A. in 1970.

While still a student at Northwestern, one of Reid’s teachers from Bronx Science submitted a photograph of her to a modeling agency, and her modeling career took off. In 1969, Reid became the first African American woman to grace the cover of Glamour. While in Chicago in the 1970s, Reid met comedian Tim Reid and the two became fast friends, and they would go on to marry in 1982. Reid made her television debut in 1979 on the short-lived series, The Duke, and made the move to Los Angeles. There, she appeared on several episodes of the popular show WKRP in Cincinnati opposite her future husband. Throughout the 1980s, she would appear on numerous hit television shows, including T.J. Hooker, The A-Team, Murder, She Wrote and Simon & Simon, where she again worked with her husband. In 1987, her husband co-produced the critically acclaimed but short-lived series Frank’s Place, and featured Tim and Daphne opposite one another. The two went on to work together on Snoops before hosting a talk show, The Tim and Daphne Show. In 1993, Reid made her biggest move yet, when she joined the cast of the hit series, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air in the role of Aunt Viv, and she remained there until the show’s end in 1996.

In 1997, Reid, her husband, Mark Warner (now governor of Virginia) and Dan Hoffler founded New Millennium Studios in Petersburg, Virginia. The studio was the first African American production operation since scar Micheaux’s to handle a project from start to finish. A number of documentaries and films have since been filmed there, including The Contender and Hearts in Atlantis. They have also re-released The Spook Who Sat By the Door, by Sam Greenlee, as a part of their Obsidian Gold Series, and are working on a series entitled American Legacy highlighting historical contributions of African Americans. Currently, Reid is working on the sitcom Eve on UPN.

Accession Number

A2004.103

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/21/2004 |and| 10/12/2004

Last Name

Reid

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Maxwell

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Bronx High School of Science

Northwestern University

P.S. 191 Amsterdam School

La Salle Academy

Ps 87 William Sherman School

First Name

Daphne

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

REI01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Italy

Favorite Quote

Don't Let The Successes Go To Your Head Or The Failures Go To Your Heart.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Virginia

Birth Date

7/13/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Petersburg

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Italian Food

Short Description

Television actress Daphne Maxwell Reid (1948 - ) was the first black homecoming queen at Northwestern University, as well as the first African American pictured on the cover of Glamour magazine. Among her television rolls, Reid has made guest appearances on The A-Team, Simon & Simon, and played the role of Aunt Viv on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, along with co-founding New Millennium Studios in Virginia.

Employment

New Millennium Studios

Ford Agency

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
217,0:493,15:976,23:5461,113:6013,122:6703,133:8359,159:10567,200:11671,222:14086,262:15328,283:19946,300:20250,305:20934,322:25418,417:26026,428:26634,437:28306,467:29218,483:30206,499:32850,511:33398,516:34357,524:35590,538:36275,544:37097,551:37645,556:41986,611:42371,619:43141,630:44681,652:47915,739:50379,795:57430,863:57758,868:58250,876:58742,883:59070,888:62022,1014:62760,1024:63580,1036:64072,1044:64974,1053:65384,1059:65958,1067:66614,1078:66942,1083:67270,1091:75619,1202:76251,1212:76804,1221:77278,1229:77673,1235:78068,1244:78779,1254:79095,1259:83520,1330:83800,1335:84290,1344:86180,1373:86460,1394:87720,1418:91080,1484:91920,1504:92620,1516:97030,1641:97870,1664:98220,1670:104410,1695:105346,1719:106570,1744:121082,1969:127949,2032:128661,2041:135158,2131:135514,2147:138362,2188:159715,2586:162036,2607:165613,2706:170139,2753:170577,2760:171088,2768:171672,2778:175249,2849:181518,2873:181978,2880:190130,2930:190795,2938:192505,2963:193075,2970:193645,2977:196400,3031:199155,3072:199820,3080:200485,3089:207455,3164:208580,3186:209705,3207:210380,3219:210680,3224:214880,3356:218430,3376$0,0:3080,74:4130,95:4480,101:4970,110:5880,126:6160,131:6580,139:11130,246:12600,298:13300,309:13790,318:14210,325:14770,338:15190,345:15750,355:17290,388:17780,396:18270,405:18690,418:19180,426:19740,436:20440,447:26272,462:26811,471:27735,490:28736,505:29737,519:30045,524:30738,539:31123,545:33356,587:33895,596:34665,608:36051,635:36667,646:41518,733:43212,749:43905,760:44752,772:45522,781:46754,844:47447,855:47755,860:57506,933:58246,947:58838,957:59504,969:60170,980:60836,996:67840,1080:68540,1094:69940,1130:73674,1170:74932,1190:75228,1195:75524,1200:76412,1222:77448,1242:78928,1270:79816,1287:80260,1294:80556,1299:81814,1321:89720,1422:90710,1449:90930,1458:99672,1532:100660,1546:103016,1591:103320,1596:104384,1620:105752,1641:106132,1647:106436,1652:108564,1709:111571,1717:112208,1725:115211,1790:116121,1803:116667,1809:117850,1821:129885,1957:137640,2008:138096,2025:138894,2033:140490,2050:142542,2087:142998,2092:144138,2103:144936,2112:145620,2119:156096,2306:156677,2315:157341,2324:157756,2330:158420,2340:158752,2370:160910,2406:162072,2427:162404,2432:162819,2441:163234,2447:164728,2470:165475,2480:171222,2515:171878,2524:173026,2543:174420,2561:174748,2566:175158,2572:175814,2586:176388,2594:180732,2644:181546,2659:181916,2665:185616,2738:186504,2757:187096,2771:187392,2776:189390,2829:191166,2846:193682,2889:194126,2896:194422,2901:195606,2935:196272,2945:197308,2962:197678,2968:198270,2978:198788,2987:199454,3009:200120,3020:200490,3026:201082,3042:208194,3066:209010,3083:211118,3136:211730,3146:212954,3178:214994,3219:215810,3236:216286,3244:216830,3254:220506,3270:221917,3297:228391,3408:229387,3421:233591,3433:233993,3440:234395,3447:234931,3465:236405,3500:237812,3529:238214,3536:240961,3600:241229,3606:241497,3611:242301,3631:244244,3669:244512,3675:244780,3680:245450,3695:250010,3717
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Daphne Maxwell Reid's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Daphne Maxwell Reid lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes her mother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes her father's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes her parents' marriage and move to New York City

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes the community in which she grew up in New York City

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes her maternal and paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes special occasions during her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes her childhood activities in New York City

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Daphne Maxwell Reid lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in New York, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Daphne Maxwell Reid talks about learning to sew and her interest in fabrics

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes her elementary and junior high schools in New York, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes her favorite subjects and childhood aspirations

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Daphne Maxwell Reid talks about attending Good Shepherd-Faith Presbyterian Church in New York, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Daphne Maxwell Reid talks about her classmates in the Special Progress Enrichment (SPE) program in New York, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Daphne Maxwell Reid recalls her teachers at Junior High School 17 and her mentors

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes her childhood personality and her family's attitude towards drinking

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes her experiences at The Bronx High School of Science in Bronx, New York, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Daphne Maxwell Reid talks about her activities and professional ambitions as a high school student in New York, New York,

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Daphne Maxwell Reid talks about her decision to attend Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Daphne Maxwell Reid recalls encountering a racist roommate at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes the African American community at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes shooting her first commercial for Kleenex in 1967

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Daphne Maxwell Reid recalls visiting New York City to shoot a spread for Seventeen magazine

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes modeling for the Ford Agency

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes interviewing to be homecoming queen at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes becoming homecoming queen during homecoming weekend at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Daphne Maxwell Reid recalls the impact of her experience as homecoming queen at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Daphne Maxwell Reid recalls getting married while being a full-time student

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes her modeling career after she was married

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes sitting for a 1969 cover shoot for Glamour magazine

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes her experience as a disc jockey for WLS in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Daphne Maxwell Reid recalls auditioning for commercials during the early 1970s

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Daphne Maxwell Reid talks about her experiences in voice-over narration and her transition into acting

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Daphne Maxwell Reid talks about her move to California and her foray into acting

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Daphne Maxwell Reid explains how she supported herself with her residuals from a Cheer detergent commercial

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Daphne Maxwell Reid talks about reconnecting with HistoryMaker Tim Reid and guest-starring on 'WKRP in Cincinnati'

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Daphne Maxwell Reid talks about acting in the dramedy 'Frank's Place' with her husband, HistoryMaker Tim Reid

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Daphne Maxwell Reid reflects upon why 'Frank's Place' was canceled by CBS

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes the television show 'Snoops'

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Daphne Maxwell Reid explains television network ratings

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Daphne Maxwell Reid talks about the reaction of white audiences to 'Frank's Place'

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Daphne Maxwell Reid talks about her and HistoryMaker Tim Reid's talk show, 'The Tim and Daphne Show'

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Daphne Maxwell Reid talks about creating and marketing a sewing instructional video with McCall Pattern Company and QVC

Tape: 4 Story: 12 - Daphne Maxwell Reid talks about her pattern line, Daphne Maxwell Reid Collection

Tape: 4 Story: 13 - Daphne Maxwell Reid talks about her guest appearance on 'The Cosby Show,' and auditioning for 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'

Tape: 4 Story: 14 - Daphne Maxwell Reid talks about her experiences acting on 'The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air'

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes the series 'Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored,' HistoryMaker Tim Reid's directing debut

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes the establishment of New Millennium Studios

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes the creation of New Millennium Studios and Showtime's television series 'Linc's'

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes New Millennium Studios' programming with TV One and the American Legacy documentary project

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes the evolution of the purposes and responsibilities of New Millennium Studios

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes the financial goals for New Millennium Studios

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes her favorite roles as an actress

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Daphne Maxwell Reid reflects upon her self-perception as a meanderer

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Daphne Maxwell Reid reflects upon her acting career, including working alongside Will Smith

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Daphne Maxwell Reid talks about her son

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Daphne Maxwell Reid describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Daphne Maxwell Reid reflects upon her legacy

DASession

2$2

DATape

3$5

DAStory

3$1

DATitle
Daphne Maxwell Reid talks about visiting New York, New York to shoot a spread for Seventeen magazine
Daphne Maxwell Reid talks about the series 'Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored,' HistoryMaker Tim Reid's directing debut
Transcript
They [Kleenex] started sending me checks.$$Well, explain to us what residuals are.$$A residual is, if you have a national commercial running, they pay you per cycle for--they're usually thirteen-week cycles. And for each cycle, if you are a principal on-camera character, you get a flat fee and for each market that it's shown in. And so if it's national, it's a bigger flat fee than if it's local or regional, and this was a national commercial. And they sent me checks for like twelve thousand dollars and nine hundred dollars. And these checks keep coming, and I'm going, holy cow! I like this. So with that, I registered with an agent down in Chicago [Illinois]. And they started sending me out on these little modeling jobs for Sears catalogs, and Montgomery Ward's catalogs, and the newspaper. And I was just a little junior model. And then I got a call from my junior high school [LaSalle Junior High School 17, New York, New York] mentor, Murray Bronstein [ph.]. And he said, "A friend of mine at Seventeen magazine is doing a piece on black college women, and they want to talk to you. I've submitted your picture and stuff to the magazine." So, okay, thanks, so we did this little article I think on what is black power or something like that. Yak, yak, I don't remember what it was about. But then I got a call from her saying we do an issue called Real Girls, and it's girls who have achieved something. And the January issue is real girls who have achieved something. And you come to New York [New York]. We bring you to New York, and we put you up in a hotel with these other girls. And we take you out on the town. And you go to a fancy hairdresser, and you get fancy clothes. And you model, and you're in the January issue. I said, okay, I can go home anytime, and so they flew me to New York but wouldn't let me go home. They put us up in the Waldorf Astoria [New York, New York]. And I remember vividly my roommate was the Betty Crocker Cook-Off winner. And next door was the baton twirling champion from Iowa. And they took us out to see 'Annie Get Your Gun.' (Laughter) And I went with Mary [Virginia] Martin or Ethel Merman or somebody. I'm going, not what I had in mind for a trip to New York.$$You're like, I can show you guys a different side of New York (laughter).$$"Can I go home?" "No, you have to be chaperoned." I said--(unclear)--"Can I go home?" "No, you have to be chaperoned." I said, "Okay, mom [Rosalee Harris Maxwell], meet met at the theater," (laughter). They had taken us to the hairdresser's. And my hair was not like their hair. So when he got through my hair, it was (laughter)--I said I can fix it if you'll let me go home. And they said, "No, have your meet us." And so my mother brought some hair products to the theater and gave 'em me, and I fixed my hair. And the next day we shot, and I wore a yellow two-piece suit that was made by the McCall Pattern Company, which came full circle thirty years later--whole 'nother story--and got a full-page spread in my pigtails (laughter), in the January issue of Seventeen magazine in 1967. So then, I was discovered by Eileen Ford from that picture, and she registered me. So I used to fly from college [Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois] to New York to do little day jobs and do editorials, as they called them, for fifty dollars a day.$Let's talk a little bit about 'Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored.' Tell us a little bit about what the project was and just what it meant to you personally as well.$$'Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored' was a book by Clifton Taulbert that my husband [HistoryMaker Tim Reid] had read an excerpt in like the Parade magazine and Sunday paper and said, "This guy sounds like he's talking about my life." He's talking about the segregated South, but the sense of community, and the pride, and the relationships that existed in the black community in the segregated South. So he tried to contact the author and see if he could option the book and went through those processes. He was working for United Image Entertainment, which was Tim's company in conjunction with Bob Johnson, who had BET [Black Entertainment Television]. He was starting a film company, and Tim was who he was working with. And one day he was in the office, and a white guy came in the office and said, "I have a script I'd like to give you. I wrote it on spec. I mean, I just wrote it 'cause I felt moved to write it." And it was 'Once Upon a Time... When We Were Colored.' And Tim read the script and knew that there were only a few things he wanted to change, and he optioned the script. And the author also agreed to this script because it was a very good depiction of--his book was in vignettes, and he had taken the thread of a story and woven it through with the characters of the vignettes, so it worked out well as a film. He got Bob interested in financing it. And then Mr. [Wayne] Huizenga from Blockbuster [Video] was going to the one who would help finance the movie and get it shot. And I think they got about a million seven [$7 million] for it, and Tim set out to the movie. And we shot that in North Carolina in July. And that was posing for Green, Greenwood, Mississippi, and boy, it was hot. And we had lots of experiences, but we had the cast from heaven on that show. We had Phylicia Rashad, Leon [Robinson], Richard Roundtree, Salli Richardson [-Whitfield]. We had the most incredible group of people involved. We had Johnny--what, Johnny, Johnny, what's your last name--as our DP [director of photography] and cinematographer and--[John] "Johnny" Simmons. And he is an art student, so they had designed shots that were from [Michelangelo Merisi da] Caravaggio. And they were--and the lighting needs to be like this old Dutch master. And it was an exquisite experience. There were eighty-two speaking parts. We had the young boy grow up from being born to being sixteen years old and leaving. And we had a cotton field that we had to build because there were only cotton stalks. Cotton was out of season. So he rounded up all the people in the town after he found a big bale of hay that--I mean cotton that hadn't been processed and had the townspeople glue the cotton back onto the stocks. And there was a newspaper article in Dunn, North Carolina, where we were, and there was a picture of these guys out in the field. All the migrant workers had gone because they were up doing oranges or something in a different part of the country. So it was white townspeople who were gluing on the cotton. And the caption under the picture was "We picked it off. You put it back on." (Laughter) And that was the joke for Dunn, North Carolina. But we shot it. It was, it was hell to shoot in two weeks. Two people almost died. We got 'em back (laughter). It's--open-heart surgery. There were lots of things that happened during the shooting of that movie, but it was all very, very dear to us. And it came out to be an award-winning film, very, very proud of Tim's first directing debut.

Della Reese-Lett

The name Della Reese is synonymous with entertainment and excellence. Starting her career in entertainment as a singer, she developed her own style with romantic ballads and other songs that utilized her unique blend of jazz, blues and gospel and phrasing that to this day makes for a sound that is unmistakably Della Reese.

Reese, born Deloreese Patricia Early in Detroit, Michigan, began singing in church when she was six years old. Throughout her formative years, Reese sang gospel music, and at age thirteen, she was hired by the late Mahalia Jackson to sing with her group.
Her big break came when she won a contest that gave her a week singing at Detroit’s famed “Flame Show Bar.” That week soon became eight weeks. This experience and others exposed Reese to the talents and styles of such music greats as Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughn, Billie Holiday, Al Hibbler, Billy Eckstine and others.

In 1953, Reese moved to New York City and became a vocalist with the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra, and shortly thereafter, signed a recording contract with Jubilee Records. Reese had her first major hit with “And That Reminds Me (of you).” That same year, she was voted “The Most Promising Singer” by Billboard, Cashbox, and Variety, as well as the Disc Jockeys of America and the Jukebox Operators Association.

Reese signed a new recording contract in 1959, with RCA, and subsequently enjoyed her biggest hit, a tune adapted from Puccini’s La Boheme, entitled “Don’t You Know”. Acknowledgement from the music industry followed as she was nominated for a Grammy Award as best female vocalist. This led to Reese performing for the next nine years in Las Vegas, Nevada. In the thirty years that followed “Don’t You Know,” Reese has continued recording.

In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, Reese launched a successful television career. She appeared on many television shows that are now considered classics, including The Perry Como Show, The Jackie Gleason Show, as well as more than twenty appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show. Her success continued over the years, with numerous appearances on television and in movies. In 1994, Reese was tapped to star in the hit series Touched by an Angel. Reese was honored for her talents in 1994 with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

In addition to her singing and acting, Reese led a deeply spiritual life. In 1986, she was ordained as a minister by the Rev. Dr. Johnnie Colemon, and she gave weekly sermons at her church, Understanding Principles For Better Living, in Los Angeles.

Reese was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 18, 2004.

Reese passed away on November 19, 2017 at age 86.

Accession Number

A2004.087

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/18/2004

Last Name

Reese-Lett

Marital Status

Married

Organizations
First Name

Della

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

REE02

Favorite Season

None

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

7/6/1931

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

11/19/2017

Short Description

Television actress and singer Della Reese-Lett (1931 - 2017 ) has been performing and recording music since 1953 and was the first African American woman to host her own television program. Reese was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - List of sponsors for 'An Evening with Della Reese'

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Introduction to 'An Evening with Della Reese'

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Lorraine Toussaint introduces and greets Della Reese

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Della Reese talks about growing up in Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Della Reese remembers overcoming a childhood illness

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Della Reese recalls her early singing experiences

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Della Reese details her meeting of Mahalia Jackson

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Video montage highlighting events from Della Reeses's early musical career

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Della Reese describes her various jobs

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Della Reese recounts her first steady singing job

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Della Reese talks about being a unique singer

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Della Reese discusses the enentrepreneurial skills of Daddy Braggs

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Video montage showing Della Reeses's rise into the national spotlight

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Della Reese discusses raising one of her brother's daughters

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Della Reese explains how Ed Sullivan furthered her career

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Della Reese recalls time spent performing in Las Vegas, Nevada

Tape: 1 Story: 17 - Della Reese relates how she dealt with Las Vegas's segregated culture

Tape: 1 Story: 18 - Della Reese explains her transition into hosting a television talk show

Tape: 1 Story: 19 - Della Reese remembers a near-fatal accident

Tape: 1 Story: 20 - Video montage showcasing Della Reese's television career

Tape: 1 Story: 21 - Della Reese details her transition into her spiritual work as a minister

Tape: 1 Story: 22 - Della Reese talks about Redd Foxx's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 23 - Della Reese tells of her relationship with Franklin Lett

Tape: 1 Story: 24 - Della Reese explains how she's dealt with racism throughout her life

Tape: 1 Story: 25 - Della Reese considers her legacy

Tape: 1 Story: 26 - Conclusion of 'An Evening with Della Reese'

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$1

DAStory

7$10

DATitle
Della Reese details her meeting of Mahalia Jackson
Della Reese recounts her first steady singing job
Transcript
Well, you were singing solos by the time you were six, and it wasn't long before your talent was recognized outside of your little town. At some point, the great Mahalia Jackson came to your church [Olivet Baptist Church, Detroit, Michigan].$$She, she came to do a Sunday concert. And what happened was she had a very healthy lady with her. I mean the lady was healthy (audience laughter). And we had those fans that you get from the funeral homes, that you fan with. We didn't have any air conditioner or anything in this little church. And the very healthy lady fainted.$$Oh, my goodness.$$And so the, the--they asked for, Reverend Barnes asked was there a doctor or a nurse or something. And they took the lady into his office. And the doctor came and he says, it's nothing wrong with this lady except she's five months pregnant. And she was so healthy she didn't know that she was pregnant. It was just more size, I guess she thought. And her husband refused to let his pregnant wife go with Mahalia on this tour because many people had died in the corridors of hospitals, not being allowed to go in, and, and a whole lot of other stuff. And he said, well, no, she's not going down there. And Mahalia said, well, I have these dates that I have to fill. So Reverend Travitt (ph.) said, since Mahalia liked me, he would ask my mother if I, I could go with her. I was out of school for the summer--.$$To go with her on tour?$$On tour. She had three dates. She was going to Lynchburg, Virginia and a couple of other places. And so he asked my mother if I could go to--on those jobs with her. And my--I thought, this is gonna be heaven. I'll go and help this old lady out. She needs-- (audience laughter). Well, that's what I thought. That's really what I thought, I'm going to help this old lady out, okay. Just before we got ready to get in the car, my mother walked straight in Mahalia's face, and she said, "I have a good child here, and I would not let her go with just anybody. But I know that you're called by God, and that you'll see to it that you bring me back the good child or a better child than I sent with you."$$Della, how old were you?$$I was thirteen. And Mahalia sat in my chest all the time (audience laughter). I couldn't stand her. She made me so sick (audience laughter). She killed all my dreams because I had dreamed of being away from my mama. I as gonna shake my thing, and have plenty fun. And Mahalia--like, she would do things that made so angry. I sang as hard as anybody else. And everybody else would go out to dinner. And she would take me home and put me--in, to the hotel, and put me in the bed and bring me a bag full of food, which I would never eat. I was just too ornery to eat it. I'd be so hungry, but I would eat it cause I didn't get to go to the restaurant. (audience laughter) I just hated her so bad (audience laughter) (unclear). I couldn't stand her at all. (audience laughter and applause).$You ended up at the, the Oriole Bowling Alley [Detroit, Michigan] as a waitress--?$$Well, see they--.$$--hostess, singer?$$--they were just beginning to have bowling allies with entertainment. And they opened one in Detroit to see how it would, it would go. And I went to see about the job singing in this--cause I knew the musicians, the trio and everything. And I went to go see about singing. And this man and I had this conversation. I never mentioned singing, and he never mentioned what he wanted to say. And he said, well, at the end of our conversation, he said, okay, be here at 8:00 o'clock. And he, he said he would give me twenty-five dollars a week. I said, fine, I'll be here at 8:00 o'clock. So I come in at 4:00 [o'clock] and I rehearse with the trio. So at 8:00 o'clock, I'm standing there waiting on time to sing. And the door opens and people come in the door. And he says to me, "What are you gonna do about those people?" I said, I'm gonna sing to 'em when you set 'em down". (Audience laughter) He said, sing? That was the first time the man had ever heard the word "sing". He said, sing? He said, I don't need no singer, I need a hostess to sit the people down. I said, well, I--I'm hired as a singer. He said, set the people down and sing it while you're sitting 'em down. (Audience laughter). So I said, I said okay, and he said he'd give me five dollars more. I said, okay. And it turned, it turned out to be a wonderful thing. It turned out to be a wonderful thing because it was a neighborhood place. So I got to know everybody. And when you walked in the door, I would sing like I used to sing in the, in the skylight. I would sing (singing), "Here comes Lorraine, isn't she sharp; look at that dress, all dressed in black; toes showing, bows showing"--well, you know, you come out to the bar. You, you feel good somebody know you like that. So I--(audience laughter), my tip, my tips, my tips were better than my salary. (Audience laughter) I got good tips. I got good tips.

Kim Fields

Actress Kim Fields was born on May 12, 1969, in New York City to an acting family; her mother, Chip Fields, and Fields's sister, Alexis, were actresses. Though she began acting at age age five, Fields had her first memorable role as a child actress in the classic Mrs. Butterworth syrup commercial at age seven.

Fields later played the young daughter on the short-lived series, Baby, I'm Back. In 1979, Fields landed the role of Dorothy "Tootie" Ramsey on the hit show, The Facts of Life, where she grew up in front of the television audience until the show ended in 1988. In 1980, Fields played a gymnast on the NBC movie, Children of Divorce.

After The Facts of Life, Fields attended Pepperdine University from which she graduated in 1990 with her B.A. degree in communications and film. While studying at Pepperdine, Fields started her own production company, Victory Entertainment, which specialized in television, film and theater.

In 1993, Fields returned to TV in another hit series; in her new role she played the part of Regine Hunter, opposite Queen Latifah, in the Fox sitcom, Living Single. In 1998, Living Single went off the air and Fields founded Little Mogul Holdings. In 1994, Fields received an NAACP Image Award for Best Director for bringing Vanities to the stage in Los Angeles; in 1995, she was again honored by the NAACP with an Image Award for Best Actress in Fight the Good Fight.

Fields also directed Nickelodeon's Keenan and Kel and Taina; Disney's The Jersey; and episodes of Living Single. Fields also made guest appearances on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Keenan and Kel, Cupid and Strong Medicine. Fields's starring roles include: Martin (1992), The Golden Palace (1992), The Crew (1995), C. Bear and Jamal (1996), Music of the Heart (1999), An Invited Guest (1999), and in the independent feature film, Me and Mrs. Jones.

Fields gave birth to her son, Sebastian Alexander Morgan, on March 4, 2007; on July 23, 2007, Fields married the actor and father of her child, Christopher Morgan.

Accession Number

A2002.215

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/21/2002

Last Name

Fields

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
First Name

Kim

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

FIE01

Favorite Season

Fall

Sponsor

Carol H. Williams Advertising

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

St. Lucia

Favorite Quote

Peace and blessings.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

5/12/1969

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Turkey Lasagna

Short Description

Actress Kim Fields (1969 - ) began her acting career as a child and continued to act and direct into adulthood. She is best known for her work on the television series, The Facts of Life, and Living Single.

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Black

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Kim Fields interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Kim Fields's Favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Kim Fields tells of her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Kim Fields talks about her mother's career as an actress

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Kim Fields's father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Kim Fields's earliest memories

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Kim Fields recalls the sounds of Harlem

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Kim Fields and her mother move to Los Angeles

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Kim Fields's talent as a youngster

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - The roots of Kim Fields's talent

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Kim Fields remembers her grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Kim Fields talks about Sesame Street

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Kim Fields tells of her first audition

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Kim Fields on her mother's parenting ability

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Kim Fields describes Los Angeles

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Kim Field's tells of some of her mother's acting roles

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Kim Fields speaks of being on television as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Kim Fields talks about school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Kim Fields on TV show 'Baby, I'm Back'

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Kim Fields's acting lessons

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Kim Fields discusses awareness of the entertainment business as a child actor

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Kim Fields being the breadwinner

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Kim Fields discusses her busy schedule of work and school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Kim Fields auditions and gets a role on TV program 'The Facts of Life'

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Kim Fields discusses the impact of being on TV show 'The Facts of Life', part 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Kim Fields talks about dealing with fame

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - New generations of Kim Fields and TV show 'Facts of Life' fans

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Kim Fields tells about growing up in the public eye

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Kim Fields talks about 'The Facts of Life' cast and their families

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Kim Fields describes her connection to the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Kim Fields talks about her influences while growing up

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Kim Fields tells of her favorite episodes of 'The Facts of Life'

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Kim Fields is concerned about too many characters in 'The Facts of Life'

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Kim Fields speaks of a 'Facts of Life' script she was against

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Kim Fields relationship with other African American actors

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Kim Fields discusses the cast of 'Diff'rent Strokes'

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Kim Fields talks about religion

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Kim Fields goes to college

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Kim Fields becomes a full-time student

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Kim Fields talks of understanding the business of entertainment

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Kim Fields's longevity

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Kim Field's discusses transitions

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Kim Fields in 'Living Single'

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Kim Fields talks about Fox

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Kim Fields speaks about 'Living Single's' chance to be a hit

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Kim Fields discusses the cast's role in 'Living Single's' artistic direction

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Kim Fields talks about Queen Latifah

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Kim Fields briefly remembers the first season of 'Living Single'

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Kim Fields's favorite episode of 'Living Single'

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Kim Fields speaks about African American sisterhood

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Kim Fields discusses marriage

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Kim Fields leaves 'Living Single'

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - The differences between Kim Fields and Regine

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Kim Fields talks about Kim Coles

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Kim Fields talks about Queen Latifah

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Kim Fields talks about Erika Alexander

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Kim Fields talks about T.C. Carson

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Kim Fields talks about John Henton

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Kim Fields talks about Johnathon Franklin Freeman

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Where Kim Fields is professionally in 2002

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Where Kim Fields is personally in 2002

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Kim Fields discusses directing

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Kim Fields talks again about having a family

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Kim Fields discusses the entertainment industy

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Kim Fields's inspirations

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Kim Fields talks of African Americans in the entertainment industry

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Kim Fields's legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Kim Fields's explains how she will raise children

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Kim Fields talks about Chip Fields's current career

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Kim Fields on being in the entertainment industry for the right reasons

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Kim Fields's hopes to bring theater to her neighborhood

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Kim Fields's changes through time

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Kim Fields discusses future roles

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - What Kim Fields wants to be remembered for

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Kim Fields speaks about Sally Field