Helen Martin

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Helen Martin
Helen Martin.jpg
Born (1909-07-23)July 23, 1909
St. Louis, Missouri
Died March 25, 2000(2000-03-25) (aged 90)
Monterey, California
Occupation Stage, television actress
Years active 1937–2000

Helen Dorothy Martin (July 23, 1909 – March 25, 2000) was an American actress of stage and television who is best known for her role as Pearl Shay on the sitcom 227.

Early life and education[edit]

Martin was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Amanda Frankie (née Fox) and William Martin, a minister.[1] She attended public schools, which at the time were segregated.

Career[edit]

Martin moved to New York to pursue a career in acting. She was a Broadway character actress for many decades, debuting in Orson Welles' production of Native Son in 1937. She appeared in at least a dozen Broadway shows, including Jean Genet's The Blacks, the musical Raisin from 1973 to 1975, Ossie Davis' Purlie Victorious (and later the musical version, which was called Purlie), The Amen Corner and Tennessee Williams' Period of Adjustment. She was an original member of the American Negro Theater.

Martin became widely known later in life due to her roles in popular television series, which brought her a large audience. She had a recurring role as Wanda on the television series Good Times, and later as the neighbor Pearl Shay on the television sitcom 227, which lasted from 1985 until 1990. She also played on the short sitcoms Baby, I'm Back (as mother in-law, Luzelle) and That's My Mama.

She played a variety of grandmothers in films: Hollywood Shuffle (1987), Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood (1996), I Got the Hook Up (1998), and Mama Doll in Bulworth (1998).

Helen Martin died of a heart attack on March 25, 2000 in Monterey, California.

Actress[edit]

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