Valarie Pettiford

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Valarie Pettiford
Valarie Pettiford.jpg
Pettiford in October 2009
Born (1960-07-08) July 8, 1960 (age 55)
Queens, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actress, dancer
Years active 1978—present

Valarie Pettiford (born July 8, 1960)[1] is an American stage and television actress, dancer, and jazz singer. She received a Tony nomination for her role in the broadway production Fosse.[2] She is also known for her role as "Big Dee Dee" Thorne on the UPN sitcom Half & Half.


Pettiford began her career as a dancer and choreographer in Bob Fosse productions on Broadway.[3] Alvin Klein of the New York Times wrote of her role in the 1983 musical revue Ladies and Gentlemen, Jerome Kern! that "You will not for a moment take your eyes off Valarie Pettiford, the show's standout: a sinewy dancer who can be sultry or sweet, measure for measure, as prescribed.... Miss Pettiford appears to be a superbly trained dancer, schooled in balletic finesse and Broadway-style razzmatazz - and a stunning presence."[4] Leah Frank, also in the NYT, wrote of Pettiford's appearance in West Side Story in 1987: "The mainstay of the supporting cast is Valarie Pettiford, whose Anita is spicy, sensual and full of fire. She is an exciting actress who has a special quality needed to ignite a number such as America."[5]

In 1994, she played black lesbian Cassandra Keefer in The Naked Truth,[6] and from 1995 to 1996 starred as Julie in a touring production of Show Boat.[7]

Pettiford received a Tony nomination as Best Featured Actress in a Musical and a Dora Mavor Moore Award nomination for her role in the Broadway production Fosse from 1998 to 1999.[2][8] Variety said Pettiford gave "a coolly elegant vocal rendition, [and she] is also a sultry, powerful dancer."[9] She left Fosse to appear as Velma Kelly in Chicago in the West End in London from August 1999 to February 2000, alongside Chita Rivera as Roxie Hart.[2][8]

In 2007 Pettiford won the Backstage Bistro Award for her cabaret debut at the Metropolitan Room,[10] and won an NAACP Theatre Award for her lead role in The Wild Party.[11] In 2008, she starred in a solo show, Valarie Pettiford - Thankful that played in New York and Los Angeles.[2] In 2009, she starred in the solo show Valarie Pettiford - The Concert in Manhattan.[12]


Pettiford's first film role was in 1978 at the age of 18 while still at the High School of Performing Arts, as part of the ensemble in The Wiz.[13] She starred as Mariah Carey's mother in the 2001 film Glitter,[14] had a part in Stomp the Yard in 2007,[15] and played Aunt Geneva in the 2011 film, Jumping the Broom.


In the 1990s, Pettiford appeared on daytime soap operas,[3] including Another World and One Life to Live (where she originated the role of Sheila Price). Her Half & Half role from 2002-6 as Big Dee Dee Thorne gained her three NAACP Image Award nominations.[2] From 2008 to 2009, she played Sandra Lucas in the comedy-drama series Tyler Perry's House of Payne.[2] She also appeared in the HBO pilot Anatomy of Hope, directed by JJ Abrams.[2] And currently has a re-occurring role as the wife to Harry Cooper (Harry Lennix) Assistant Director of the FBI Counter-Terrorism Division, on the NBC drama The Blacklist.


Pettiford released a jazz album, Hear My Soul, in 2005.[3][16]




Stage roles[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Pettiford was born in Queens, New York, to Ralph and Blanch Pettiford,[17] and graduated from the High School of Performing Arts in 1978.[1][24] She is married to her manager, actor and former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Tony Rader.[1][25] They got engaged in 1991.[26]


  1. ^ a b c Rout, Nancy E.; Buckley, Ellen (1993). The Soap Opera Book: Who's Who in Daytime Drama. Todd Publications. p. 207. ISBN 0-915344-23-8. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Valarie Pettiford to Perform 'Thankful' at Upright Cabaret". Broadway World. 10 October 2008. Retrieved 17 July 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c Gordon, Ed (13 July 2005). "Valarie Pettiford: 'Hear My Soul'". NPR. Retrieved 17 July 2010. 
  4. ^ Klein, Alvin (31 July 1983). "Theater; Evening of Kern is a pleasure". New York Times. Retrieved 17 July 2010. 
  5. ^ Frank, Leah D. (30 August 1987). "Theater review; 'West Side Story': staging at its best". New York Times. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  6. ^ Brantley, Ben (17 June 1994). "Review/Theater; Gay Guru Offers Advice For the Love-Locked". New York Times. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  7. ^ Novakovich, Iilana (13 January 1995). "Ex One Life star in Toronto Show Boat". The Record (Ontario). Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  8. ^ a b c Jones, Kenneth (20 July 1999). "Reva Rice, Formerly of Starlight Express, Steams Into Fosse July 20". Playbill. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  9. ^ Isherwood, Charles (15 January 1999). "Fosse (Dance revue -- Broadhurst Theater)". Variety. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  10. ^ Gans, Andrew (1 March 2007). "Luker, David, Pettiford and Stritch Among Bistro Award Winners". Playbill. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  11. ^ Stitt, Eric (20 February 2007). "NAACP fetes Fishburne, Pettiford". Variety. Retrieved 17 July 2010. 
  12. ^ "Tony Nominee Valarie Pettiford Sings Abel/Steffan, Mondays in May at Metropolitan Room". Broadway World. 11 May 2009. Retrieved 17 July 2010. 
  13. ^ a b "Valarie Pettiford". The Tennessee Tribune. 27 November 1996. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  14. ^ a b Van Gelder, Laurence (21 September 2001). "Glitter (2001); Dreaming a Dream and Paying the Price for It". New York Times. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  15. ^ a b Waldron, Clarence (8 January 2007). "Why 'Stomp the Yard' is the Must-See Movie of the Season". Jet. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  16. ^ "Hear My Soul - Valarie Pettiford". CD Baby. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af "Valarie Pettiford Biography (1960-)". Film Reference. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  18. ^ a b c d e "Valarie Pettiford". Broadway World. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  19. ^ Segal, Lewis (19 April 2002). "Scene-Stealing Enhances a Classic Feydeau Farce". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  20. ^ Shirley, Don (8 March 2002). "What the Blonds Prefer". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  21. ^ Simon, John (21 March 1994). "Theater". New York Magazine. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  22. ^ Simon, John (20 July 1992). "Two obits, one encomium". New York Magazine. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  23. ^ Kelly, Kevin (7 April 1986). "Bob Fosse's New 'Big Deal'". New York Magazine. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  24. ^ "1978 Graduates". High School of Performing Arts. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 
  25. ^ Robinson-English, Tracey (August 2005). "Infertility: help for couples trying to conceive". Ebony. Retrieved 17 July 2010. 
  26. ^ "Tipoff". Star-News. 26 November 1991. Retrieved 18 July 2010. 

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