Cole in 1977.
Olivia Carlena Cole
November 26, 1942
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
|Died||January 19, 2018 (aged 75)|
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
|Spouse(s)||Richard Venture (1969–84) (divorced)|
Olivia Carlena Cole (November 26, 1942 – January 19, 2018) was an American actress.
Life and career
Cole was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the daughter of Arvelia (née Cage), a tennis player and instructor and William Calvin Cole, a worker for Grumman. After graduating from Manhattan’s Hunter College High School in 1960, she studied drama at Bard College in New York and earned a scholarship to attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, where she graduated with honors in 1964. After returning to the United States, she earned a master’s degree in theater arts with minor in Scandinavian studies in 1967 from the University of Minnesota. She made her screen debut in the daytime soap opera Guiding Light in 1969 and later appeared in over 30 shows and films.
Cole won an Emmy Award for her performance as Matilda, Chicken George's wife, in the 1977 miniseries Roots. Cole became the very first African American actress to win an Emmy award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Television Movie for her performance in Roots.
She also was known for her role as Maggie Rogers in the 1979 miniseries Backstairs at the White House, for which she was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie.
Cole starred in the CBS sitcoms Szysznyk from 1977 to 1978 and Report to Murphy in 1982. She also was cast in the short-lived ABC drama series Brewster Place with Oprah Winfrey in 1990 and previously appeared in another miniseries North and South, Book I (1985). She also guest-starred on Police Woman, Family, L.A. Law, "Christy" and Murder, She Wrote.
She was an honorary member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. In film, she appeared in Heroes (1977), Coming Home (1978), Some Kind of Hero (1982), Go Tell It on the Mountain (1984), Big Shots (1987), First Sunday (2008) as well as in the television movies Something About Amelia (1984) and The Women of Brewster Place (1989).
Personal life and death
In June 1971, she married actor Richard Venture, one of the few to enter an interracial marriage in Hollywood at that time. They later divorced in 1984. She retired in 1995, but later returned to acting.
|1969-1971||Guiding Light||Deborah Mehraen||television debut
series regular; unknown episodes
|1975-1976||Police Woman||Head Nurse/Dr. Dorothy Bailey/Dr. Georgia Kimberly||3 episodes|
|1977||Roots||Matilda Moore||TV Miniseries
|1977||Rafferty||Sara Ridley||Episode: "Brothers & Sons"|
|1977||Heroes||Jane Adcox||film debut|
|1977-1978||Szysznyk||Ms. Harrison||series regular; 15 episodes|
|1978||Family||Frances Rossmore||Episode: "Fear of Shadows"|
|1979||Insight||Karen Clay||Episode: "When, Jenny? When?"|
|1979||Backstairs at the White House||Maggie Rogers||TV Miniseries
|1979||The Lazarus Syndrome||Pamela Quinn||Episode: "A Brutal Assault"|
|1980||Children of Divorce||Betty Williams||Television Movie|
|1980||The Sky Is Gray||Olivia||Television Movie|
|1981||Fly Home||Sarah Brookford||Television Movie|
|1981||Mistress of Paradise||Victorine||Television Movie|
|1982||Some Kind of Hero||Jesse|
|1982||Report to Murphy||Blanche||6 episodes|
|1984||Go Tell It on the Mountain||Elizabeth|
|1984||Something About Amelia||Ruth Walters|
|1985||American Playhouse||Elizabeth||Episode: "Go Tell It on the Mountain"|
|1985||North and South, Book I||Maum Sally||TV Miniseries
|1985-1995||Murder, She Wrote||Yvette Dauphin/Melinda Coop/Callie Coleman||3 episodes|
|1987||Big Shots||Mrs. Newton|
|1987||The Fig Tree||Television Movie|
|1989||The Women of Brewster Place||Miss Sophie||2 episodes|
|1989-1993||L.A. Law||Judge Julie McFarlane||3 episodes|
|1990||Brewster Place||Miss Sophie||series regular; 11 episodes|
|1993||Arly Hanks||Estelle||Television Movie|
|1995||Christy||Esther Scott||Episode: "Echoes"|
|2008||First Sunday||Momma T|
|2011||Be Good, Be Nice||Young Girl||Short Film|
Awards and nominations
- 1977 Primetime Emmy award, Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy or Drama Series for Roots - won
- 1979 Primetime Emmy award, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Special for Backstairs at the White House - nominated
- 2007 TV Land award, Anniversary award (shared with LeVar Burton, Louis Gossett, Jr., Leslie Uggams, John Amost, Ben Vereen, Todd Bridges, Cicely Tyson, Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs, Georg Stanford Brown) for Roots
- Caron, Christina (24 January 2018). "Olivia Cole, Award-Winning 'Roots' Actress, Is Dead at 75". The New York Times.
- Olivia Cole profile, filmreference.com; accessed January 24, 2018.
- Wright, Tolly (24 January 2018). "Olivia Cole, Emmy Award-Winning Roots Actress, Dead at 75". Vulture.
- "Olivia Cole biography". Yahoo!. Retrieved March 28, 2013.
- "Olivia Cole". Emmys.com. Retrieved March 28, 2013.
- "Olivia Cole". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved March 28, 2013.
- "Olivia Cole, Actress in 'Roots' and 'Backstairs at the White House,' Dies at 75". The Hollywood Reporter. January 24, 2018. Retrieved January 24, 2018.