|Born||Eliza Virginia Capers
September 22, 1925
Sumter, South Carolina, U.S.
|Died||May 6, 2004
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Eliza Virginia Capers (September 22, 1925 – May 6, 2004) was an American actress 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.
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. Capers went on to appear in Saratoga and Raisin.
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.
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