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Theresa Merritt
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    (September 24, 1924-June 12, 1998)
    Born in Emporia, Virginia
    Actress and singer
    Backing vocalist for Harry Belafonte and Jackie Wilson
    Portrayed Eloise 'Mama' Curtis on the sitcom 'That's My Mama' (1974-75)
    Appeared on Broadway in 'Carmen Jones' (1943), 'Golden Boy' (1964), 'The Crucible' (1972), 'The Wiz' (1975) and 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' (1984)
    Appeared in the films 'They Might Be Giants' (1971), 'The Goodbye Girl' (1977), 'The Wiz' (1978), 'The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas' (1982), 'The Serpent and the Rainbow' (1988), 'Billy Madison' (1995) and 'Home Fries' (1998)
    She was sometimes billed as Theresa Merritt Hines and as Theresa Merritte.
    As a teen, she appeared on a radio show called the 'Colored Kiddie Hour.'
    She quit her role in Broadway's 'The Wiz' as Evelline the Wicked Witch, claiming it was harming her voice.
    She almost turned down the title role in 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' because she thought her kids would be embarrassed by her cursing on stage.
    She was raised by an uncle and aunt after her mother died.
    She was married to Benjamin Hines for 52 years until her death.
    She sang at Carnegie Hall as part of the Kool Jazz Festival and Salute to Cole Porter (1985).
    She was nominated for a Tony and two Emmys.
    She said, 'I don't regret never being a big star. That can all go in seconds. I'm 62, and I've had a taste of it all.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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