Beah Richards on The Bill Cosby Show (1970)
|Born||Beulah Elizabeth Richardson
July 12, 1920
Vicksburg, Mississippi, U.S.
|Died||September 14, 2000
Vicksburg, Mississippi, U.S.
|Cause of death||Emphysema|
|Alma mater||Dillard University|
|Notable work||Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Roots: The Next Generations
|Spouse(s)||Hugh Harrell Jr. (divorced)|
Beah Richards (July 12, 1920 – September 14, 2000) was an American actress of stage, screen and television. She was a poet, playwright and author. During her career, Richards was nominated for a Tony and an Academy Award, and received two Primetime Emmy Awards for her performances on television.
Life and career
She was born Beulah Elizabeth Richardson in Vicksburg, Mississippi; her mother was a seamstress and PTA advocate and her father was a Baptist minister. In 1948, she graduated from Dillard University in New Orleans and two years later moved to New York City. Her career began in 1955 when she portrayed an eighty-four-year-old-grandmother in the off-Broadway show Take a Giant Step. She often played the role of a mother or grandmother, and continued acting her entire life. She appeared in the original Broadway productions of Purlie Victorious, The Miracle Worker, and A Raisin in the Sun.
Richards was nominated for a Tony Award for her 1965 performance in James Baldwin's The Amen Corner. She received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Sidney Poitier's mother in the 1967 film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Other notable movie performances include Hurry Sundown, The Great White Hope, Beloved and In the Heat of the Night.
She made numerous guest television appearances including roles on Beauty and the Beast, The Bill Cosby Show, Sanford and Son, Benson, Designing Women, The Practice, The Big Valley and ER (as Dr. Peter Benton's mother.) She was the winner of two Emmy Awards, one in 1988 for her appearance on the series Frank's Place, and another in 2000 for her appearance on The Practice.
In the last year of her life, Richards was the subject of a documentary created by actress Lisa Gay Hamilton. The documentary Beah: A Black Woman Speaks was created from over 70 hours of their conversations. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the AFI Film Festival.
Radicalism at the Crossroads: African American Women Activists in the Cold War (2011), by Dayo Gore, is about Richards and others.
|1958||The Mugger||Grecco Maid|
|1959||Take a Giant Step||May Scott|
|1962||The Miracle Worker||Viney the Maid||Uncredited|
|1963||Gone Are the Days!||Idella Landy|
|1967||Hurry Sundown||Rose Scott|
|1967||In the Heat of the Night||Mama Caleba|
|1967||Guess Who's Coming to Dinner||Mrs. Prentice||Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
|1970||The Great White Hope||Mama Tiny||NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture|
|1972||The Biscuit Eater||Charity Tomlin|
|1973||A Dream For Christmas||Grandma Bessie|
|1987||Big Shots||Miss Hanks|
|1989||Homer and Eddie||Linda Cervi|
|1989||Drugstore Cowboy||Drug Counselor|
|1998||Beloved||Baby Suggs||Nominated — NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture|
- Brian Baxter. "Obituary: Beah Richards". the Guardian. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
- The Broadway League. "Beah Richards - IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information". Retrieved 27 December 2014.
- "Beah Richards, 80, Actress in Stalwart Roles". 16 September 2000. Retrieved 27 December 2014.
- "Beah Richards; Oscar Nominee for 'Guess Who's Coming to Dinner'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 27 December 2014.