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Hattie Winston Wheeler

Actress Hattie Mae Winston was born in Lexington, Mississippi, on March 3, 1945, to Selena Thurmond Winston and Roosevelt Love Winston. Winston was raised by her grandmother, Cora Thurmond, in nearby Greenville, Mississippi. Attending Washington Irving High School in New York City, Winston graduated in 1963; throughout her academic career she was an accomplished student and an exceptionally talented vocalist. Winston attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. after receiving a full voice scholarship.

Winston moved back to New York City after one year at Howard and enrolled in an actor’s group study workshop; success came quickly. In 1968, Winston became a replacement performer in Hair, in 1969 obtained a part in Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie?, and in 1970 was cast in The Me Nobody Knows, all of which were significant Broadway roles. In 1971, Winston was cast in a replacement role in Two Gentlemen of Verona. In 1983, Winston scored a starring role in the critically acclaimed Broadway play The Tap Dance Kid. Winston’s roles in To Take Up Arms and Up the Mountain earned her two Los Angeles Critics Drama-Logue awards; throughout her career, she received a variety of other theatrical honors, including two Obie Awards (for Mother Courage and The Michigan), CEBA Awards, and an Audelco Award for her contributions to the world of theater. Winston also worked as an independent producer and director, and was responsible for reviving Langston Hughes’s Black Nativity off-Broadway.

Winston worked extensively in the worlds of television and film; she had a regular role on the Emmy-award winning PBS-TV series The Electric Company, where she played Sylvia, in addition to playing Gloria Davis in the critically acclaimed series Homefront. Winston’s other television credits include Nurse, E.R., Port Charles, The Parent Hood, Malcolm & Eddie, The Smart Guy, Scrubs, and Becker. Winston’s film credits include Jackie Brown, Meet the Deedles, Beverly Hills Cop III, and Clint Eastwood’s True Crime.

Winston served as the national co-chair for the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA)’s Equal Employment Opportunities Committee. In 1993 and 1997, the National Black Theater Festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina honored Winston with the designation of a “Hattie Winston Day.” Over the course of her career, Winston collected scripts and screenplays by African American writers, many of which remain unpublished; in 1998, she donated a collection of writing entitled the Hattie Winston African American Scripts and Screenplays Collection to the University of Louisville in Kentucky. In 2006, Winston participated in the reading “Slave Narratives: A Mighty, Mighty People” for Stories On Stage, a non-profit performing arts organization presenting popular local and national actors in dramatic readings of short fiction.

Accession Number

A2005.237

Sex

Female

Interview Date

10/7/2005

Last Name

Wheeler

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Winston

Occupation
Schools

Washington Irving High School

Sacred Heart School

Howard University

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Hattie

Birth City, State, Country

Lexington

HM ID

WIN03

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $5,000 - $10,000

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cabo San Lucas; Nassau, Bahamas

Favorite Quote

It Is Not The Critic Who Counts; Not The Man Who Points Out How The Strong Man Stumbles, Or Where The Doer Of Deeds Could Have Done Them Better. The Credit Belongs To The Man Who Is Actually In The Arena, Whose Face Is Marred By Dust And Sweat And Blood; Who Strives Valiantly; Who Errs, Who Comes Short Again And Again, Because There Is No Effort Without Error And Shortcoming; But Who Does Actually Strive To Do The Deeds; Who Knows Great Enthusiasms, The Great Devotions; Who Spends Himself In A Worthy Cause; Who At The Best Knows In The End The Triumph Of High Achievement, And Who At The Worst, If He Fails, At Least Fails While Daring Greatly, So That His Place Shall Never Be With Those Cold And Timid Souls Who Neither Know Victory Nor Defeat. - Theodore Roosevelt

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Interview Description
Birth Date

3/3/1945

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Los Angeles

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Cobbler (Apple)

Short Description

Actress Hattie Winston (1945 - ) has been recognized with an Obie Award, among other honors. Winston's theatre credits include, "Hair," "The Tap Dance Kid," and, "To Take Up Arms." Her television and film credits include, "Jackie Brown," "Becker," and, "True Crime."

Employment

Negro Ensemble Company

'The Electric Company'

'Becker'

'Homefront'

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/314900">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Hattie Winston's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/314901">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Hattie Winston lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/314902">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Hattie Winston describes her mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/314903">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Hattie Winston describes her father's family background, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/314904">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Hattie Winston describes her father's family background, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/314905">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Hattie Winston describes the professions of her paternal family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/314906">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Hattie Winston recalls her paternal grandfather</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/314907">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Hattie Winston recalls her father and her father's siblings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/314908">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Hattie Winston recalls her father's childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/314909">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Hattie Winston describes being adopted by her paternal aunt</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/314910">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Hattie Winston describes her childhood personality in Greenville, Mississippi</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/314911">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Hattie Winston describes her adoptive father, Louis Pampley</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/314912">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Hattie Winston describes her mother's ill-fated bootlegging business</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/314913">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Hattie Winston describes occupations in her childhood community of Greenville, Mississippi</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/314914">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Hattie Winston describes racial prejudice growing up in Mississippi</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/314915">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Hattie Winston recalls role models from her community in Greenville, Mississippi</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316417">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Hattie Winston recalls her impressions of race relations in Mississippi in the 1950s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316418">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Hattie Winston recalls her teenage ambitions to be in show business</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316419">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Hattie Winston describes going to live in the North as a teenager</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316420">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Hattie Winston describes living with her biological father in New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316421">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Hattie Winston describes living with her best friend, Adrianne Thomas, in New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316422">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Hattie Winston recalls choosing to attend Howard University</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316423">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Hattie Winston describes her experiences at Howard University in the mid-1960s</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316424">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Hattie Winston recalls joining The Group Theater Workshop in New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316425">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Hattie Winston recalls the start of her professional acting career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316426">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Hattie Winston recalls the founding of the Negro Ensemble Company</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316427">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Hattie Winston describes her experiences in the Negro Ensemble Company</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316428">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Hattie Winston describes her stage acting career after leaving the Negro Ensemble Company</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/316429">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Hattie Winston describes the start of her TV and voice acting career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317684">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Hattie Winston recalls how she made a career in the voiceover industry</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317685">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Hattie Winston recalls roles from her work as a TV and film actress</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317686">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Hattie Winston describes her community involvement</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317687">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Hattie Winston describes her play 'The Slave Narratives'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317688">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Hattie Winston describes how she would like to be remembered</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/317689">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Hattie Winston narrates her photographs</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

5$2

DATitle
Hattie Winston describes her experiences in the Negro Ensemble Company
Hattie Winston recalls roles from her work as a TV and film actress
Transcript
It was incredible, and then as a result of that experience, to meet other people. To meet [HistoryMaker] Harry Belafonte, whom as a little girl in Mississippi, you know, I had seen in 'Carmen Jones,' you know, or to meet Sidney Poitier and have them come to the theater, or to meet Miles Davis and, and have them come to the theater, and then to have them know my name. You know, or to have them come up and say that they admired my work, and then to--it was a very generous time as well. I think that's missing today. By that I mean it was nothing for me to be in the presence of greatness. It was nothing for me to be in the presence of Mr. Paul Robeson or James Baldwin or Diana Sands or Mr. Duke Ellington or any of these people. To be in the presence of absolute greatness, and Brock Peters--$$Right.$$--Sidney Poitier, Al Freeman, Jr. All of the--Roxie Roker--all of these people, and to have them share with me any knowledge that they had. Lou Gossett [HistoryMaker Louis Cameron Gossett, Jr.].$$Right.$$I used to sit and just listen to them talk, and it was like being--it was far more than I ever could've learned at Howard [Howard University, Washington, D.C.], and that's nothing against Howard. I don't want you to misunderstand me, but to be--$$You were right in the thick of the dialogue.$$I was in it.$$Right.$$I was in it. And at the time, I didn't realize that I was also creating it.$$Right.$$I didn't realize that. It was an incredible movement--theater movement that was happening in New York [New York] at the time. And then to be a part of NEC [Negro Ensemble Company], to represent the United States of America at the World Theatre Festival [World Theatre Season] in London [England]. Oh, my God! The only theater company in the entire country that was chosen to represent the United States.$$Right. Right.$$Not black company (simultaneous)!$$(Simultaneous) You were there?$$The only theater company that was chosen at that time--$$Right.$$--to represent the United States and then to go to London, and the so-called great democracy, and be on stage, and we were doing a play that was very controversial, which Michael Schultz [HistoryMaker Michael A. Schultz] had directed, called 'Song of the Lusitanian Bogey,' written by a German writer believe it or not called Peter Weiss, W-E-I-S-S, and it was about colonialism in Angola, in Mozambique, and we were actually--our lives were threatened on the stage. They were (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) On the stage?$$On the stage. They were throwing things at us on stage, telling us to get out of the stage, calling us nigger, calling us all kinds of name--these are the very educated Brits. Oh, it was such an exciting time, to be there, and then to go--excuse me--and do my first concert in Rome [Italy] in front of thousands of people. I thought I had gone to heaven. It was so exciting.$$Now we're up to where?$$Oh, God (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Is it 19--$$This is about--oh this is like '69 [1969] I think--$But you've had a few television hits in there.$$Oh, yes. Oh, yes.$$You want to talk about it?$$Oh, yes! (Laughter) Well, I did, as I said, I did 'The Electric Company.'$$Right.$$And then I did a series in New York [New York] called 'Nurse,' and I did that with Michael Learned and Robert Reed. And we were only on for two seasons, but it was interesting and innovative because we shot it in New York, and that was a time when series were not being shot in New York.$$Right.$$So I did that and that was--Michael Learned, just an incredible actress and an incredible human being, and I still see her to this day. And this was back in the '80s [1980s] when we did that. Then I did--the reason I ended up in, in Los Angeles [California] was I came out here to do a series called 'Homefront,' and I did that with Dick Anthony Williams and Mimi Kennedy. Oh, my Lord, Jesus! I'm having a mental moment. But anyway, incredible actors on that show. Kyle Chandler, Wendy Phillips--it's coming back. (Laughter) Great, great actors and the producers of that show, Lynn Latham [Lynn Marie Latham] and Bernie Lechowick [Bernard Lechowick], I can really say that they are my friends to this day. They are my friends. But I ended up--I came to California to do that series, and my family relocated to California as a result of that series. Also, you know, I've had the opportunity to do--I just finished doing 'Becker' with Ted Danson, and we did that for six seasons. So that's quite phenomenal, and right now it's in syndication which is really very lovely. And then in between that, I've done other plays, I've done films. I did 'Jackie Brown' with Samuel Jackson [Samuel L. Jackson] and Robert De Niro, Quentin Tarantino. I did a movie called 'True Crime' with Clint Eastwood, Isaiah Washington, and--I'm having a moment here, but that was incredible, to work with Clint Eastwood. It's just been--I did a thing called 'Project Greenlight' on HBO which Ben Affleck and Matt Damon produced. The movie that came out of that was called 'Shaker Heights' ['The Battle of Shaker Heights']. That was great. I did a movie with [HistoryMaker] Whoopi Goldberg called 'Clara's Heart.'$$Right.$$So, Whoopi was in that and Beverly Todd was starring in that as well.