Novella Nelson

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Novella Christine Nelson (December 17, 1938 – August 31, 2017) was an American actress and singer. She established her career as a singer, both on the off-Broadway and Broadway stage[1] and in cabaret-style locales.[2]

American actress and singer Novella Nelson.

Career[edit]

Starting in 1961, Nelson had a decades-long stage career, performing, directing and producing, primarily in New York.[3] She was a featured performer on Broadway in 1970 in the musical Purlie. In 1975, Nelson directed the play La Femme Noire at The Public Theater.[4] Her film career began at age 39 with a small part in 1977's An Unmarried Woman, and continued for the next several decades with roles in movies and television.[5][6]

She may be best known for her role as Mrs. Tate in the 2002 movie Antwone Fisher.[7]

Early Life[edit]

Nelson was born in Brooklyn, New York on December 17, 1938 to James and Evelyn (formerly Hines) Nelson in Brooklyn New York. Her father was a pastor and a taxi driver. Her mother was an executive assistant at magazine publisher Women's Wear Daily.[8]

An African American, she attended the predominantly white Brooklyn College in the late 1950s, majoring in biochemistry. She took a speech class, which was an acting course, and was asked to perform in a play. For the play she took on the role of Berenice, the housekeeper, in The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers.[9] After being on stage in this and other plays, she the future actress changed course becoming a theatre major.[10][11]

Death[edit]

Nelson died of cancer on September 1, 2017, aged 78, in her native Brooklyn, New York.[12][13]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1978 An Unmarried Woman Jean
1979 The Seduction of Joe Tynan Carla Willis
1984 The Cotton Club Madame St. Clair
1984 The Flamingo Kid Lizzy
1987 Orphans Mattie
1990 Privilege Yvonne Washington
1991 Strictly Business Olivia
1993 Weekend at Bernie's II Mobu
1994 Dead Funny Frances
1995 The Keeper Mrs. Lemont
1995 Mercy Angela
1996 Manny & Lo Georgine
1998 A Perfect Murder Ambassador Alice Wills
1999 Judy Berlin Carol
2001 The Gilded Six Bits Mama Banks Short
2002 Antwone Fisher Mrs. Tate
2003 Conversations with Id Aunt Mae Short
2003 Head of State Moderator
2004 Birth Lee
2004 Dear Wendy Clarabelle
2005 Preaching to the Choir Aunt June
2006 Stephanie Daley Dr. Peterson
2006 Premium Jayme
2007 The Ten Judge Sophia R. Jackson
2008 The Toe Tactic Victoria Hadaway
2008 Compliments of the Serpent Barbara Stanton Video short
2010 It's Kind of a Funny Story The Professor
2011 The Inheritance Aunt Bee
2011 Somebody's Hero Maureen
2012 Nancy, Please Dr. Bannister
2012 Bama & Fred Bama Short
2015 Sweet Kandy Bernice Boyd
2017 Collar Fiona Taylor
2017 Spell Safi Post-production

Television[edit]

Meet the Browns Edna
Year Title Role Notes
1978 Watch Your Mouth Mrs. King "Chicago Red and Mugger - Part 2"
1983 Chiefs Nellie Cole TV miniseries
1984 A Doctor's Story Mrs. Thornton TV film
1984 He's Fired, She's Hired Serena Cole TV film
1986 The Equalizer Miriam Blain "The Line"
1987 Kojak: The Price of Justice Pearl TV film
1988 Hothouse Olivia "The Subject of Sex"
1989 A Man Called Hawk Mrs. Webster "Never My Love"
1989 The Littlest Victims Mrs. Munson TV film
1989 As the World Turns Sarah Franklin "1.8637"
1990 Law & Order Judge Gloria Crutcher "Out of the Half-Light"
1992 Citizen Cohn Second Annie Lee Moss TV film
1993 Daybreak Mrs. Chaney TV film
1995 New York News Evelyn Gates "New York News"
1995 Law & Order Mrs. Washington "Humiliation"
1995 New York Undercover Prof. Cortez "Old Tyme Religion"
1996 Harambee! Queenesther TV film
1996 The Summer of Ben Tyler Rosetta Tyler TV film
1997 Oz Loretta Smith "Plan B"
1997 One Life to Live Judge Barbara Fitzwater 1 episode
1997 Dellaventura Aretha Jefferson "Music of the Night"
1998 Mama Flora's Family Pearl (1955-1970) TV miniseries
1998 Sex and the City Madame Lordes "Oh Come All Ye Faithful"
1999 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Mrs. Mosley "Sophomore Jinx"
2001 100 Centre Street Isabelle "Things Change"
2003 Third Watch Sondra Richards "In Confidence"
2004 The West Wing Gail Fitzwallace "Gaza", "NSF Thurmont"
2007 The Starter Wife Nana Vera TV miniseries
2008 Army Wives Vivian Burton "Thank You for Letting Me Share", "Transitions"
2010 30 Rock Novella Nelson "The Moms"

Discography[edit]

Novella Nelson (album)

  • Released: 1970
  • Format: LP
  • Label: Arcana
  • Singles: "Mean World", "Long Road Home", "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay", "Lilac Wine", "Johnny (Guns and Drums)", "I'm Troubled", "Do What You Gotta Do", "Cold Water Flat", "Porgy", and "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free"

Walk Him Up The Stairs-Prologue / Down Home (Purlie promo w. Linda Hopkins & Cleavon Little)

  • Released: 1970
  • Format: LP
  • Label: Ampex

Where Do You Go / The Bar (single w. Gordy Rose)

  • Released: 1971
  • Format: LP
  • Label: Stock Bridge

References[edit]

  1. ^ Klein, Alvin (26 June 1994). "Theatre; 'Electra' With a Different Dimension". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 September 2017. 
  2. ^ Wilson, John S. (26 April 1985). "Cabaret: Novella Nelson". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 September 2017. 
  3. ^ "Novella Nelson Biography". Film Reference. Advameg, Inc. Retrieved September 26, 2016. 
  4. ^ Bailey, Peter A. (April 1975). "Annual Round-up, Black Theater in America". Black World/Negro Digest. Johnson Publishing Co. Retrieved September 26, 2016. 
  5. ^ Novella Nelson on IMDb
  6. ^ Trescott, Jacqueline (February 25, 1978). "Novella Nelson: 'I Can't Pin Me Down'". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 2, 2017. 
  7. ^ Sandomir, Richard (2017-09-07). "Novella Nelson, 78, Dies; Brought Authority to Myriad Roles". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-09-08. 
  8. ^ Sandomir, Richard (2017-09-07). "Novella Nelson, 78, Dies; Brought Authority to Myriad Roles". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-09-08. 
  9. ^ Sandomir, Richard (2017-09-07). "Novella Nelson, 78, Dies; Brought Authority to Myriad Roles". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-09-08. 
  10. ^ Rizzo, Frank (May 8, 2011). "Novella Nelson: A Storied Life Rooted In The Theater". Hartford Courant. Retrieved September 2, 2017. 
  11. ^ Sandomir, Richard (2017-09-07). "Novella Nelson, 78, Dies; Brought Authority to Myriad Roles". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-09-08. 
  12. ^ Sandomir, Richard (September 7, 2017). "Novella Nelson, 78, Dies; Brought Authority to Myriad Roles". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2017-09-07. Retrieved September 7, 2017. 
  13. ^ Sandomir, Richard (2017-09-07). "Novella Nelson, 78, Dies; Brought Authority to Myriad Roles". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-09-08. 

External links[edit]