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Born Shirley Cummings
(1953-01-15) January 15, 1953 (age 65)
The Bronx, New York, United States
Residence Los Angeles, California, U.S
Other names Ta Ta
Citizenship American
Occupation Actress
Years active 1960-present
Spouse(s) Lee Weaver (since 1971)
Children 1

Ta-Tanisha (born Shirley Cummings on January 15, 1953 in the Bronx, New York) is an African American character actress, best known for her role as Pam Simpson on the television series Room 222, which she played from 1970 to 1972.

Ta-Tanisha later appeared in the 1973 film The Sting, and appeared on Sanford and Son as "The Sanford Arms" tenant Janet Lawrence. Ta-Tanisha also appeared on Good Times three times (in three separate roles) as well as on What's Happening!!. Her husband is veteran actor Lee Weaver. Ta-Tanisha and Weaver reside in her hometown Bronx, New York area. They have one daughter, Leis La-Te.


Ta-Tanisha arrived in Los Angeles from Detroit, Michigan in the 1960s. In the early 1970s Ta-Tanisha began studying theatre at the Performing Arts Society Los Angeles (PASLA) where she performed in several plays including Blues for Mister Charlie and A Raisin in the Sun. Ta-Tanisha also appeared in The Black Girl in Search of God at the Mark Taper Forum.

After a while, Ta Tanisha began to get roles in television shows and films such as Room 222, in a recurring role as Pam Simpson, Good Times, Sanford & Son and the Mod Squad. She co-starred as a deaf mute on the hit show Mission: Impossible (1966 TV series) and was nominated for the NAACP Image Award for this performance. Ta-Tanisha was also in the Academy Award-winning movie, The Sting.

This exposure to the production process inspired Ta-Tanisha to create a Media literacy program for inner-city youth, Ta-Tanisha named this program TechniVision and it was presented at a local art center and as an after school program in conjunction with Los Angeles City Schools and Girls, Inc.

Ta-Tanisha received an award from the City of Los Angeles for “helping to heal the city” after the uprising of the early '90s in the city.

Currently Ta-Tanisha is part of the Repertory Dance Theater of Los Angeles and is part of a team that is conducting an after school performance program. Ta-Tanisha has also written a play about Biddy Mason, an enslaved African American woman who never learned to read or write; Miz Biddy. The play is currently in development.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Since July 10, 1971, she has been married to actor Lee Weaver. They reside in the Bronx and have one child, Leis La-Te, a daughter.[2]


"The Real Anger Was Backstage" an article by Budd Schulberg published in Life Magazine Aug 21, 1970. A cover story of the final week of shooting for the 1970 American drama directed by Paul Bogart "Halls of Anger"

"Black extras get $13.20 a day -whites a minimum of $29.15." "Our dressing rooms aren't integrated." Tell'im what they did to Ta-Tanisha." Cal Told me about Ta-Tanisha, the black actress who had protested because she didn't have as nice a dressing room as her white "opposite number," Pat Stich, nor could she use the telephone on the set. To Ta-Ta, Cal said it was the same crap all over again. They can use the phones. We're still in the boondocks." Ta-Ta was so hurt, she broke down and cried, he said. We understood how she felt. She was being treated unfairly." - Budd Schulberg, Life Magazine Aug 21, 1970 [3]

Pat Stich, a well-bred, sensitive young actress, became almost tearful as she talked: "This has been a very strange experience for me. I'm not really over it yet. I came in the first morning looking forward to meeting black actresses I'd be working with. But when I introduced myself, Ta-Ta and the others just stared at me. It was very spooky-I wanted to be friends but they wouldn't let me in. As we worked up to the scene where they tear my clothes off, I heard rumors that I would be in for a surprise that wasn't in the script. I was terrified I went to Mr. Bogart. I'd been nervous about the nude scene anyway. I'm afraid Mr. Bogart got angry with me. He said this was just a scene in a movie, that he'd stage it realistically without letting it get out of control, he'd make that clear to Ta-Ta and the others also. When he finally did the scene a strange thing happened. It didn't come off as violently as it should have. Maybe we'd all been so uptight. Ta-Ta and the black kids seemed to hold back too much. I guess we were all a little self-conscious. If all this was in a movie script, I suppose Ta-Ta and I would make up and there'd be some hope at the end. But it didn't work out that way. To be absolutely frank, after this experience I feel I have to reexamine my attitude toward black people. I don't mean hate them because they gave me a bad time. It's just so much more complex than I had anticipated." - Budd Schulberg, Life Magazine Aug 21, 1970 [3]

Said Ta-Tanisha, "I think if I'd realized what they were putting down, I wouldn't have taken this job. Hollywood isn't ready to treat black people as people. A lot of times I felt like quitting. There's still a double standard. The studio is still Whitey's turf. Then this script I don't think white writers can ever write for blacks. They'll never know how we feel or think or talk. That scene where we we're supposed to strip the white kid in the john. I resented it. That's Whitey's idea of us. Of course, I realize it's box office, but I couldn't believe that line we had to say, "We wanna see if you're blond all over." I can see a fight, with slapping and hair-pulling, but the way it was written it didn't seem true or fair to my people-" Budd Schulberg, Life Magazine Aug 21, 1970 [3]

Cultural references[edit]

In the United States Tanisha is a predominantly African-American name first popularized in the 1960s by the actress Ta-Tanisha, who appeared on the television program Room 222. Ta-Tanisha loosely translated in Swahili means "Puzzling One".[3]



Year Title Role Notes
1995 Days of the Pentecost Melena's mother Action/Adventure Musical Road
1991 The Whereabouts of Jenny Scranton's Secretary Drama
1973 The Sting Louise Coleman Caper film, Comedy, Drama
1973 The Stone Killer Salesgirl Crime, Action, Drama
1973 Frasier the Sensuous Lion Comedy
1970 Like It Is (1970 film) Randy Drama
1970 Halls of Anger Claudine Drama

Television film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1971 Crosscurrent (1971 film) Rainie Lewis Crime Drama
1977 The Choirboys (film) Melissa Comedy Drama
1983 Baby Sister (film) Night Nurse Drama
1982 The First Time (1982 film) Shari Drama
1985 Star Fairies Nightsong (voice) Animation Fantasy
1987 Convicted: A Mother's Story Drama
1989 The Women of Brewster Place Tenant #1 Drama

Television Series[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1969 Mod Squad Leora Little Season 2, Episode 7: Confrontation!
1969 Room 222 Pam Arnold Season 1, Episode 13: Seventeen Going on Twenty-Eight
1970 Room 222 Pam Arnold Season 1, Episode 17: Operation Sandpile
1970 Room 222 Pam Simpson Season 2, Episode 7: Only a Rose
1970 Room 222 Pam Arnold Season 2, Episode 8: The Fuzz That Grooved
1970 Room 222 Pam Arnold Season 2, Episode 15: Now, About That Cherry Tree
1970 The Bill Cosby Show Georgianna Jones Season 2, Episode 4: There Must Be a Party
1970 Mission Impossible Maryana "Gabby" Renfrow Season 5, Episode 10: Hunted Nominated: NAACP Image Award
1971 Room 222 Pam Simpson Season 2, Episode 20: Hip Hip Hooray
1971 Room 222 Pam Simpson Season 3, Episode 1: K-W-W-H]
1971 Room 222 Pam Simpson Season 3, Episode 6:Suitable for Framing
1971 The New Dick Van Dyke Show Judy Season 1, Episode 3: Mid-term Dinner
1972 Room 222 Pam Simpson Season 3, Episode 18: We Hold These Truths
1972 Mannix Gloria Logan Season 5, Episode 21: Lifeline
1972 The Partridge Family Mary Lou Trimper Season 3, Episode 10: Ain't Love Grand
1972 Emergency! Rosie Season 2, Episode 16: Syndrome
1973 Adam-12 Lizzie Season 5, Episode 23: Keeping Tabs
1974 Cannon Miranda Season 3, Episode 23: Triangle of Terror
1975 Lucas Tanner Jean Season 1, Episode 15: What's wrong with Bobby?
1975 Sanford and Son Janet Lawrence Season 5, Episode 4: The Sanford Arms
1976 Sanford and Son Janet Lawrence Season 5, Episode 14: Can You Chop This?
1976 Executive Suite Melida Season 1, Episode 10: The Sounds of Silence
1976 What's Happening!! Patrice Williams Season 1, Episode 10: Puppy Love
1974 Good Times Marcy Season 1, Episode 13: My Son, the Lover
1976 Good Times Mary Ann Season 3, Episode 21: J.J. in Trouble
1979 Good Times Zodiac Girl Season 6, Episode 18:J.J. and T.C.
1980 The Jeffersons Nurse #3 Season 6, Episode 16: The Arrival: Part 2
1985 Cagney & Lacey Unknown Season 5, Episode 9: Old Ghosts
1986 Hill Street Blues Pregnant Lady Season 6, Episode 18: Iced Coffey
1987 Amen Mrs. Gordon Season 2, Episode 4: Dueling Ministers


  1. ^ "RDToLA". www.rdtolarts.org. 
  2. ^ "Lee Weaver Biography (1930-)". www.filmreference.com. 
  3. ^ a b c d LIFE magazine. Budd Schulberg. Aug 21, 1970. Retrieved July 2014.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)

External links[edit]