Mary Alice

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Mary Alice
Alice at the 45th Emmy Awards Governor's Ball, 1993.
Born Mary Alice Smith
(1941-12-03) December 3, 1941 (age 75)[1][2]
Indianola, Mississippi, U.S.
Nationality American
Education Chicago Teacher's College
Occupation Actress
Years active 1966–2005
Known for Effie Williams – Sparkle
Leticia "Lettie" Bostic – A Different World

Mary Alice Smith (born December 3, 1941[3]), known professionally as Mary Alice, is an American film, television and stage actress. Alice has appeared in over 50 television shows and feature films over the course of her career which spanned over four decades. Alice is best known for her most notable roles; Leticia "Lettie" Bostic on NBC's A Different World (1987–1989), Effie Williams in the 1976 musical drama Sparkle. In addition to her career on television and film, Alice also performed on the theater stage; appearing in the 1987–88 stage production of August Wilson's Fences for which she received a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play[4] for her work in 1987.[5][6]

Life and career[edit]

Born Mary Alice Smith in Indianola, Mississippi, Alice is the daughter of Ozelar (née Jurnakin) and Sam Smith.[7] Alice had an ability to act and began her career on stage in her hometown.[8] Alice family moved from Mississippi to Chicago, Illinois when she was two years old. Alice graduated from Chicago Teacher's Union (now known as Chicago State University) and later taught at elementary school level.[9] Alice started acting in community theater productions in the mid–1960s, appearing in three of playwright Douglass Turner Ward's plays; "Days of Absence" and "Happy Endings". In addition to acting in the plays, Alice also washed the cast's laundry for a salary of $200 a week.[10]

Alice made her screen debut in 1974 film The Education of Sonny Carson, and later guest-starred in Police Woman and Sanford and Son. Alice played Ellie Grant Hubbard on soap opera All My Children in the mid–1980s, and co–starred in A Different World as Leticia 'Lettie' Bostic from the series start in 1987 until the end of the second season in 1989.[8] Alice won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 1993 for I'll Fly Away (1991–1993).[8] Alice's other film credits include Malcolm X (1992), The Inkwell (1994) and Down in the Delta with Alfre Woodard.[8] In 2000, Alice was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.[11] Alice replaced Gloria Foster in the film The Matrix Revolutions[12] and video game Enter The Matrix as the Oracle, after Foster died in 2001.



Year Title Role Notes
1974 The Education of Sonny Carson Moms
1974 The Sty of the Blind Pig Alberta Warren Television movie
1976 Just an Old Sweet Song Helen Mayfield Television movie
1976 Sparkle Effie Williams
1979 Lawman Without a Gun Minnie Hayward Television movie
1981 The Color of Friendship Mrs. Garth
1983 The Brass Ring Mrs. Hauser Television movie
1984 Beat Street Cora Kirkland
1984 Concealed Enemies Edith Murray
1984 Teachers Linda Ganz
1985 Charlotte Forten's Mission: Experiment in Freedom Blind Lily
1990 To Sleep with Anger Suzie Nominated—Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead
1990 The Bonfire of the Vanities Annie Lamb
1990 Awakenings Nurse Margaret
1992 Malcolm X School teacher
1993 A Perfect World Lottie
1993 Laurel Avenue Maggie Arnett Television movie
Nominated—CableACE Award for Best Actress in a Movie or Miniseries
1993 Life with Mikey Mrs. Gordon
1994 The Inkwell Evelyn
1994 The Vernon Johns Story Altona Television movie
1995 Heading Home N/A
1995 Ray Alexander: A Menu for Murder Adele Thompson Television movie
1996 Bed of Roses Alice
1998 Down in the Delta Rosa Lynn Sinclair
1999 Catfish in Black Bean Sauce Dolores Williams
1999 The Wishing Tree Mattie
2000 The Photographer Violet
2001 The Last Brickmaker in America Dorothy Cobb Television movie
2002 Sunshine State Mrs. Eunice Stokes
2002 The Life Emiline Crane Short film
2003 The Matrix Revolutions The Oracle Nominated—Black Reel Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress


Year Title Role Notes
1975 Police Woman Marnie Episode: "Target Black"
1975 Sanford and Son Frances Victor 2 episodes
1975 Good Times Loretta Episode: "The Baby"
1975 The Family Holvak Samantha Wilson Episode: "The Tribute"
1976 Insight Karen Fuller Episode: "Juvie"
1976 Serpico Angel Episode: "The Traitor in Our Midst"
1976 Visions Evelyn Burrell Episode: "Scenes from the Middle Class"
1980 All My Children Ellie Grant Hubbard Unknown episodes
1987–1989 A Different World Leticia "Lettie" Bostic 25 episodes
1989 The Women of Brewster Place Fannie Michael 2 episodes
1990 L.A. Law Maxine Manley Episode: "Watts a Matter?"
1992 I'll Fly Away Marguerite Peck 7 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
1993 Law & Order Virginia Bryan Episode: "Mother Love"
1994 Great Performances N/A Episode: "Paddy Chayefsky's 'The Mother'"
1997 Orleans Ella Clark Episode: "Baby-Sitting"
1999 Cosby Loretta 3 episodes
2000 Touched by an Angel Georgia Bishop Episode: "God Bless the Child"
2000 Providence Abby Franklin Episode: "The Gift"
2001 Soul Food Mrs. Pettaway Episode: "Sex and Money"
2002 Oz Eugenia Hill Episode: "Visitation"
2004 Line of Fire Jackie Simon Episode: "The Senator"
2004 The Jury Elaine Nebatoff Episode: "Memories"
2005 Kojak Joyce Episode: "All That Glitters"


Year Title Role Notes
1969–1971 No Place to Be Somebody Cora Beasley
1987–1988 Fences Rose Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play
Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play
1994–1995 The Shadow Box Maggie
1995 Having Our Say Dr. Bessie Delaney Nominated—Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play
Nominated—Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play



External links[edit]