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Beah Richards
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Actress
    (July 12, 1920-September 4, 2000)
    Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi
    Birth name was Beulah Richardson
    Appeared on Broadway in 'The Miracle Worker' (1960), 'Purlie Victorious' (1961), 'The Amen Corner' (1965) and 'The Little Foxes' (1967)
    Appeared in the films 'Take a Giant Step' (1958), 'Hurry Sundown' (1967), 'In the Heat of the Night' (1967), 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner' (1967), 'The Great White Hope' (1970), 'Mahogany' (1975), 'Drugstore Cowboy' (1989) and 'Beloved' (1998)
    Recurring roles as Aunt Ethel on Sanford and Son, Mrs. DuBois on Benson and Mae Benton on ER
    Wrote the plays 'All's Well That Ends' (1970) and 'One Is A Crowd' (1971)
    Wrote 'A Black Woman Speaks and Other Poems' (1975)
    She tried to shave six years off her age and claim 1926 as her birth year.
    She was typecast as mothers and grandmothers.
    She portrayed Sidney Poitier's mother in 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner' despite being only seven years older than him.
    In 'Hurry Sundown,' she has one of the most unintentionally comedic death scenes in movie history. (As the Medved brothers noted, 'Perhaps some medical adviser should have explained to her the difference between a heart attack and an epileptic seizure.')
    When she went to school, white kids would throw stones at her.
    She was a founding member of the Harlem Community Theater (1958).
    She was nominated for a Tony for 'The Amen Corner' (1965) and an Oscar for 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner' (1967).
    She won two Emmys for guest appearances, on the comedy 'Frank's Place' (1988) and the drama The Practice.
    She was named to the NAACP Image Awards Hall of Fame.
    She was the subject of a documentary, 'Beah: A Black Woman Speaks,' created by actress Lisa Gay Hamilton, that won a Grand Jury Prize at the AFI Los Angeles Film Festival (2003).

Credit: C. Fishel


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