Novella Nelson

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Novella Nelson
Born (1939-12-17) December 17, 1939 (age 76)
Brooklyn, New York USA
Years active 1978-present

Novella Nelson (born December 17, 1939) is an American actress and singer.

Nelson was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Evelyn Hines and James Nelson.[1] She established her career as a singer, both on the off-Broadway and Broadway stage[2] and in cabaret-style locales.[3] Nelson was a featured performer on Broadway in 1970 in the musical, Purlie, in which she sang DOWN HOME with Cleavon Little and HE CAN DO IT with Melba Moore. In 1975, Nelson directed the play "Le Femme Noir" at the Joseph Papp Public Theater. Her career in films did not begin until she was approaching middle age, with a small part in 1978's An Unmarried Woman. Over the next thirty years, she continued to play small roles in movies[4] Nelson works as an instructor for voice-over actors.[5] In June, 2009, she appeared in a Boston production of Oedipus.[6]


Year Film Role
1978 An Unmarried Woman Jean Starret
1979 The Seduction of Joe Tynan Carla Willis
1984 The Cotton Club Madame St. Clair
1984 The Flamingo Kid Lizzy the Housekeeper
1987 Orphans Mattie
1990 Privilege Yvonne Washington
1990 The Bonfire of the Vanities Media Jackal
1991 Strictly Business Olivia
1993 Weekend at Bernie's II Mobu
1994 Dead Funny Frances
1995 The Keeper Mrs. Lemont, Mother
1996 Girl 6 Angela's Aunt
1997 The Devil's Advocate Botanica Woman
1998 A Perfect Murder Ambassador Alice Wills
2002 Antwone Fisher Mrs. Tate
2003 The West Wing episode "Gaza" Gail Fitzwallace
2003 The West Wing episode "N.S.F. Thurmont" Gail Fitzwallace
2004 Birth Lee
2005 Dear Wendy Clarabelle
2005 "Preaching To The Choir" Ruth
2007 The Ten Judge Sophia R. Jackson
2007 August Rush Social Worker
2010 Night Catches Us Eloise Johnson
2010 30 Rock episode "The Moms" Herself
2010 It's Kind of a Funny Story The Professor


  • Arcana A1001, made by Desto Records, NYC, unknown date, "Novella Nelson".
  • Songs: 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; I Wish I Knew How It Would feel To Be Free.
  • Musicians: Phil Moore, piano; Richard Davis, bass; Frederick Waits, drums; Warren Smith, percussion; Emmanuel Green and Gene Orloff, violins; Selwart Clarke, viola; Kermit Moore, cello.
  • Information on this LP from Black Shellac, Records for Collectors, Spring City, PA


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