Virginia Capers

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Virginia Capers
Born Eliza Capers
(1925-09-22)September 22, 1925
Sumter, South Carolina, U.S.
Died September 11, 2004(2004-09-11) (aged 78)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Pneumonia
Residence Los Angeles, California
Occupation Actress
Years active 1957–2003

Eliza Capers (September 22, 1925 – September 11, 2004) was an American actress.[1][2] She won the Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical in 1974 for her performance as Lena Younger in Raisin, a musical version of Lorraine Hansberry's play A Raisin in the Sun.

Personal life[edit]

Born in Sumter, South Carolina, Capers attended Howard University and studied voice at the Juilliard School in New York City.


She made her Broadway debut in the musical Jamaica in 1957 as a replacement for Adelaide Hall in the role of Grandma Obeah, taking over the role when Hall left the musical.[3][4][5][6][7] Capers went on to appear in Saratoga[8] and Raisin.[9]

Capers was a familiar face to television audiences. In addition to a recurring role on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as Hattie Banks, she appeared in many television shows, including Have Gun Will Travel, Marcus Welby, M.D., My Three Sons, Mannix, The Waltons, Mork & Mindy, Highway to Heaven, St. Elsewhere, Murder, She Wrote, Evening Shade, The Golden Girls, Unsub, Married... with Children, The Practice and ER.

Capers appeared in such films as Norwood (1970), The Great White Hope (1970), Lady Sings the Blues (1972), The North Avenue Irregulars (1979), The Toy (1982), Teachers (1984), Howard the Duck (1986), Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986), Beethoven's 2nd (1993) and What's Love Got to Do with It (1993).

Capers founded the Lafayette Players, a Los Angeles repertory theatre company for African-American performers. She was the recipient of the National Black Theatre Festival Living Legend Award, the Paul Robeson Pioneer Award, and the NAACP Image Award for theatre excellence.

Capers provided the narration for the adventure game Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers.[10]


Capers died on September 11, 2004, of complications from pneumonia in Los Angeles, California, aged 78.

Partial filmography[edit]


  1. ^ "Virginia Capers, an actress with a musical touch | African American Registry". 1925-09-22. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  2. ^ "Virginia Capers (1925–2004)". Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  3. ^ Encyclopedia of African American Actresses in Film and Television - Bob McCann - Google Books. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  4. ^ "Virginia Capers, 78, Actress Who Won a Tony for 'Raisin' - New York Times". 2004-05-12. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  5. ^ "Tony Winner Virginia Capers is Dead at 78 - Theater News - May 15, 2004". 2004-05-15. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  6. ^ Jet - Google Books. 1959-04-16. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  7. ^ "Other works for Nat Horne". Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  8. ^ Ken Mandelbaum, Not Since Carrie: Forty Years of Broadway Musical Flops, St. Martin's Press (1991), pp. 230-33 (ISBN 0-312-06428-4).
  9. ^ "Raisin | IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information". IBDB. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  10. ^ "Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers (1993 Video Game); IMDb"., Inc. Retrieved 2015-01-10. 

External links[edit]