Home Movies Mary Alice, Tony Winner for Her Role in ‘Fences,’ Dies at 85

Mary Alice, Tony Winner for Her Role in ‘Fences,’ Dies at 85

by Jersey Lady

Mary Alice is an Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress with roles in Hollywood blockbusters (The Matrix Revolutions), TV sitcoms (A Different World) and Broadway plays (Fences). brought a delicate elegance and quiet majesty to the ”), she died at her home in Manhattan on Wednesday. She was 85, according to the New York City Police Department.

Police spokesman Detective Anthony Passaro confirmed the death.

A former Chicago schoolteacher, Alice has appeared in nearly 60 TV shows and movies. In 2000 she theater hall of fame.

She first gained widespread attention in 1987 with August Wilson’s Fences on Broadway. She won a Tony Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Rose Maxson, a Pittsburgh housewife in the 1950s. After a promising career as a baseball player, James Earl Jones, a Tony Award winner, fell into a rage and resigned himself to a harsh life as a garbage collector.

“MS. Alice’s performance emphasizes strength over self-pity, outspoken anger over fierce bitterness,” wrote Frank Rich in his review for The New York Times. “Actress finds spiritual quotient in embracing Rose’s love for a complicated man who is deeply wounded in her heart.”

The role struck a deep resonance with Alice. Alice builds on the memories of her mother, her aunt, her grandmother, “women who were uneducated, lived in an age before women were emancipated, and whose identity was tied to her husband.” I played it. ” she said in an interview with The Times that same year.

“I decided early on that I didn’t want to get married. Well, it’s not that I didn’t want to get married, but I wanted to know about the world,” she added. I did it through study, books and travel.”

Mary Alice Smith was born on December 3, 1936 in Indianola, Mississippi, one of three children of Sam Smith and Ozeller (Jernakin) Smith. When she was young, her family moved to Chicago, where they lived in a Near North Side home that was demolished for the Cabrini Green housing project.

No relatives survived.

Seeing teaching as a route to a stable middle-class life, he graduated from Chicago Teachers College (now Chicago State University) in 1965 and began teaching in public elementary schools.

Still, she wanted to be an actress. “It was escapism,” she told the Chicago Tribune in 1986, adding: But her parents got up before the sun rose and worked all day. Father was tired. Her mother had to cook. When I went to the movies, the people on the screen didn’t have to work. “

Alice abandoned her last name, Smith, and moved to New York City in 1967. Black Ensemble Company, I embarked on advanced acting classes taught by Lloyd Richards, Artistic Director of the Yale Repertory Theatre, who later directed “Fences.”

Throughout the 1970s and early 80s, she appeared in a number of sitcoms such as “Good Times” and “Sanford and Son,” and gained a cinematic presence in 1976 with the musical “Sparkle,” loosely based on The Supremes. I was. “Beat Street” The 1984 breakdancing film that helped push hip-hop culture into the mainstream.

She starred in the 1980 Off-Broadway production Zuman and the Sign, featuring Frances Foster and Giancarlo Esposito, and the 1983 Yale Rep production, Raisin’, featuring Delroy Lindo. In the Sun” received accolades on stage.

After her success on ‘Fences’, she played Lettie Bostic, a historically black college resident director with an interesting past, in ‘A Different World’, a spin-off of ‘The Cosby Show’. A year after that, she garnered praise as the mother of Oprah’s Winfrey matriarchal role in The Women of Brewster Place. This TV her mini-her series is based on Gloria Her Naylor’s novel about a group of women living in a run-down housing project.

By the 1990s, she had become a familiar face in films. He had a role in Penny Marshall’s ‘The Awakening’ featuring. And two years later, she appeared in Spike Lee’s “Malcolm X,” in which Denzel Washington played the lead role.

She also appeared in “Bonfire of the Vanities” as the mother of a teenager who was hit by a car in a hit-and-run accident.

In 1992, she was named Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role in the series I’ll Fly Away, starring Sam Waterston and Regina Taylor and set in a fictional 1950s Southern town. was nominated for an Emmy Award. She won the award the following year for the same role.

Alice almost brought home another Tony in 1995. Emily in her Mann’s Broadway version of ‘Having Our Say’, she was nominated for Best Actress for her performance as the fiery Bessie. Sarah (Sadie) L. Delaney and her sister Annie Elizabeth (Bessie) Delaney in her 1994 best-selling memoir, co-authored with Amy Hill Her Haas.

Alice replaced Gloria Foster in the third installment of the Matrix film series in 2003, playing Oracle, and continued acting until 2005, appearing in the TV reboot of the 1970s detective show Kojak.

“Acting was a big sacrifice,” she told The Tribune in 1986. Income would be stable. But I didn’t feel like I was teaching acting.It’s a service in my life. You can use it. “

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