Mary Alice, an award-winning actor from ‘A Different World’ and ‘Sparkle,’ dies at 85

Mary Alice, the Tony and Emmy-winning actor best known for her memorable roles in “Fences,” Sparkle and “A Different World, ” passed away at 85.

The NYPD confirmed to the Los Angeles Times Thursday that the celebrated performer had died in her New York City apartment. B. Scott,, first reported Alice’s death. (NYPD stated Alice was 85, while some outlets claimed she was 84. There was no cause of death.

Alice was Leticia “Lettie,” a college dorm director at a Virginia fictionally Black college. Alice portrayed Effie Williams in the musical drama Sparkle (1976). She was the single mother of the primary trio, which was modelled after the Supremes.

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Alice also has notable TV and film credits, including “The Matrix Resurrections”, (2003), “Awakenings”, (1990), and “To Sleep With Anger”, (1990). “The Bonfire of the Vanities,” (1990), and “The Women of Brewster Place” (1988). “I’ll Fly Away,” a ’90s drama that was set in Atlanta during the civil rights movement.

Different Touch for a Different World
Oct. 6, 1988

Alice was nominated as a supporting actress in a drama serial for her role in “I’ll Fly Away” at the 1992 Emmys. She also won the 1993 Emmy for the same role.

Alice was a stage performer in many Broadway productions including “Having Our Say” (1995), “The Shadow Box” (1994), “Fences” (1987), and “No Place to Be Somebody” (1971). For her role as Rose Maxson, opposite James Earl Jones’ Troy Maxson, in August Wilson’s play “Fences”, she won a Tony.

Alice received another Tony nomination for her role as Dr Bessie in “Having Our Say” in 1985. She was also inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame (2000, 2000).

As news broke about Alice’s death on Thursday, tributes began to pour in via social media.

Viola Davis tweeted, “RIP Mary Alice…the first Rose Maxson,” and she later played the same role in “Fences” (2016). “You were one the greatest actresses ever!” We are grateful for your inspiration, work and for Rose. Godspeed Queen.”

Colman Domingo, a fellow actor, also paid his respects.

“A shoulder that we all stood on. He tweeted, “A round of applause to Mary Alice.” “Thank you legend. Rest easy.”

The official Twitter account of the NAACP stated, “We celebrate the life and talent of a truly inspiring talent.” “The legacy will continue as new doors are opened for Black actresses and actors, and new experiences are discovered for future generations because of the example set by one. Mary Alice, take a bow.

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