Madge Sinclair

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Madge Sinclair
Born Madge Dorita Walters
(1938-04-28)April 28, 1938
Kingston, Jamaica
Died December 20, 1995(1995-12-20) (aged 57)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Complications of leukemia
Occupation Actress
Years active 1966–1995
Spouse(s) Royston Sinclair (1951–1969; two sons)
Dean Compton (1982–95; her death)
Children 2
Parent(s) Herbert Walters (father)
Jemima Walters (mother)

Madge Dorita Walters-Sinclair (April 28, 1938 – December 20, 1995) was a Jamaican American actress, best known for her roles in Cornbread, Earl and Me, Coming to America, Trapper John, M.D., and the ABC TV miniseries Roots. She also voiced the character of Sarabi, Mufasa's wife and Simba's mother, in the animated feature film The Lion King. Sinclair won the 1991 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress - Drama Series for her role as Empress Josephine in Gabriel's Fire.

Early life[edit]

Sinclair was born in Kingston, Jamaica to Herbert and Jemima Walters. She was a teacher in Jamaica until 1966 when she left for New York to pursue her career in acting.


Following Roots, she starred in the 1978 film Convoy as the Widow Woman, and she played Leona Hamiltons in Cornbread, Earl and Me. Sinclair received an Emmy Award nomination for her role as Belle in the miniseries Roots. Also in 1978, she co-starred in the short-lived sitcom Grandpa Goes to Washington. Sinclair went on to a long-running stint in the 1980s as nurse Ernestine Shoop on the series Trapper John, M.D. opposite Pernell Roberts. She received three Emmy nominations for her work on the show, and critic Donald Bogle praised her for "maintaining her composure and assurance no matter what the script imposed on her".[citation needed]

In 1988, Sinclair played Queen Aoleon alongside James Earl Jones' King Jaffe Joffer in the Eddie Murphy comedy Coming to America, which reunited her on screen with her Roots husband and co-star John Amos. Later, both Sinclair and Jones would reunite as Queen and King for the roles of Sarabi, Simba’s mother, and Mufasa, Simba’s father, in the blockbuster Disney animated film The Lion King (1994), respectively. The film became one of the best-selling titles ever on home video. It would also be her last film role. The two also collaborated on the series Gabriel's Fire, which earned Sinclair an Emmy in 1991 for Best Supporting Actress in a Dramatic Series, famously beating out the expected winner, L.A. Law's Diana Muldaur.

Sinclair played the role of Lally in the 1991 Channel 4 television miniseries The Orchid House (based on Phyllis Shand Allfrey's novel of the same name), directed by Horace Ové, and also received critical praise for her supporting role in the 1992 television movie Jonathan: The Boy Nobody Wanted with JoBeth Williams. In 1993, Sinclair came to London to appear on stage at the Cochrane Theatre in The Lion, by Michael Abbensetts, directed by Horace Ové for the Talawa Theatre Company.[1] In 1994, she played a supporting role in the short-lived ABC-TV sitcom Me and the Boys, which starred Steve Harvey. Sinclair, in her brief role as the captain of the USS Saratoga in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, is commonly cited as the first female Starfleet starship captain to appear in Star Trek. (Joanne Linville had appeared as a Romulan commander 18 years earlier.) Years later, Sinclair played Geordi La Forge's mother, captain of the USS Hera, in Star Trek: The Next Generation's "Interface". Her final acting role was on the sitcom Dream On just one month later before her death.

Personal life and death[edit]

Sinclair was married to Royston Sinclair, a police officer, and had two sons with him, Garry and Wayne Sinclair. In 1982, she was married to actor Dean Compton. She died of leukemia in 1995. She was cremated and her ashes were scattered in her hometown in Jamaica.[citation needed]


Year Title Role Notes
1972 Madigan Episode: "The Midtown Beat"
1972 The Witches of Salem: The Horror and the Hope Tituba
1974 I Love You... Good-bye Salesgirl
1974 Conrack Mrs. Scott
1974 Medical Center Arbiter Episode: "Tainted Lady"
1974 The Waltons Minnie Doze Episode: "The Visitor"
1975 Cornbread, Earl and Me Leona Hamilton
1975 Guess Who's Coming to Dinner Sarah Prentiss TV movie
1975 Joe Forrester Sheila Gates Episode: "Stake Out"
1975 Doctors' Hospital Unknown Episode: "Come at Last to Love"
1976 I Will, I Will... for Now Dr. Williams
1976 Leadbelly Miss Eula
1976 Executive Suite Judge Gillespie Episode: "Who Shall Hall Bring Mercy"
1977 Roots Belle Reynolds 3 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
1977 Serpico Michelle Episode: "One Long Tomorrow"
1978 Convoy Widow Woman
1978 ABC Afterschool Specials Mrs. Bradsbury Episode: "The Rag Tag Champs"
1978 One in a Million: The Ron LeFlore Story Georgia LeFlore TV movie
1978 Uncle Joe Shannon Margaret
1979 The White Shadow Louelia Judd Episode: "Sudden Death"
1980-1986 Trapper John, M.D. Ernestine Shoop 129 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (1983-1985)
1984 ABC Afterschool Specials Miss Thomas Episode: "Backwards: The Riddle of Dyslexia"
1986 Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home Saratoga Captain Uncredited
1987 Mathnet Amelia Airliver Episode: "Problem of the Trojan Hamburger"
1987 Ohara Gussie Lemmons 11 episodes
1987 Starman Lorraine Michaels Episode: "The Test"
1987 Look Away Elizabeth Keckley TV movie
1988 Coming to America Queen Aoleon
1989 Gideon Oliver Angela Holmes Episode: "By the Waters of Babylon"
1989 Roseanne Muriel Johnston Episode: "Guilt by Disassociation"
1989 Midnight Caller Ida May Episode: "Take Back the Streets"
1990 The End of Innocence Nurse Bowlin
1990-1991 Gabriel's Fire Empress Josephine 22 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
1991 The Orchid House Lally 4 episodes
1991-1992 Pros and Cons Josephine Austin 12 episodes
1992 L.A. Law Jessica Rollins Episode: "Diet, Diet My Darling"
1992 Tales from the Crypt Lucille Episode: "Curiosity Killed"
1993 Star Trek: The Next Generation Captain Silva La Forge Episode: "Interface"
1994 The Lion King Sarabi Animated film, Voice
1994-1995 Me and the Boys Mary Tower 19 episodes
1995 Dream On Mrs. Charles Episode: "Little Orphan Eddie", (final television appearance)


  1. ^ Stephen Bourne, "Obituary: Madge Sinclair", The Independent, 3 January 1996.
  • Bogle, Donald (2001). Primetime Blues: African Americans on Network Television (First ed.). New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 0-374-23720-4. 

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