kids encyclopedia robot

Beah Richards facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Beah Richards
Beah Richards Bill Cosby Show 1970 (cropped).JPG
Richards on The Bill Cosby Show (1970)
Born
Beulah Elizabeth Richardson

(1920-07-12)July 12, 1920
Died September 14, 2000(2000-09-14) (aged 80)
Vicksburg, Mississippi, U.S.
Alma mater Dillard University
Occupation Actress
Years active 1955–2000
Notable work
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
Roots: The Next Generations
Spouse(s) Hugh Harrell Jr. (divorced)

Beulah Elizabeth Richardson (July 12, 1920 – September 14, 2000), known professionally as Beah Richards and Bea Richards, was an American actress of stage, screen, and television. She was also a poet, playwright, author and activist.

Richards was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her supporting role in the film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner in 1968, as well as winning two Primetime Emmy Awards for her guest roles in the television series Frank's Place in 1988 and The Practice in 2000. She also received a Tony Award nomination for her performance in the 1965 production of The Amen Corner.

Early life and education

Beulah Elizabeth Richardson was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi; her mother was a seamstress, and her father was a Baptist minister. In 1948, she graduated from Dillard University in New Orleans, and two years later, she moved to New York City.

She was taught dance by Ismay Andrews.

Career

Her career began in 1955 when she portrayed an 84-year-old-grandmother in the off-Broadway show Take a Giant Step. She often played the role of a mother or grandmother, and continued acting her entire life. She appeared in the original Broadway productions of Purlie Victorious, The Miracle Worker, and A Raisin in the Sun.

As a writer, she wrote the verse performance piece A Black Woman Speaks, a collection of 14 poems, in which she points out that white women played an important role in oppressing women of color. The play's first performance was in 1950 for the organization Women for Peace, a white women's organization in Chicago. Her first play was written in 1951 titled One Is a Crowd about a black singer who seeks revenge on a white man who destroyed her family. It was not produced until decades later.

From the 1930s to the late 1950s, Richards was a member and organizer with the Communist Party USA in Los Angeles after befriending artist Paul Robeson. She is among the Black women who "actively participated in movements affiliated with the CPUSA" between 1917's Bolshevik Revolution and Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev's 1956 revelations. She was later a sponsor of the National United Committee to Free Angela Davis.

Richards was known professionally as Beah Richards, and is also referred to in several sources as Bea Richards.

Notable movie appearances include The Amen Corner (1965), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), Hurry Sundown, The Great White Hope, Beloved and In the Heat of the Night. She appeared in Roots: The Next Generations as Cynthia Murray Palmer, the grandmother of Alex Haley.

She made numerous guest television appearances, including roles on Beauty and the Beast, The Bill Cosby Show, 227, Sanford and Son, Benson, Designing Women, The Facts of Life, The Practice, Murder, She Wrote, The Big Valley and ER (as Dr. Peter Benton's mother.) She was the winner of two Emmy Awards, one in 1988 for her appearance on the series Frank's Place and another in 2000 for her appearance on The Practice.

Recognition and awards

Richards was nominated for a Tony Award for her 1965 performance in James Baldwin's The Amen Corner.

She received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Mrs. Mary Prentice, Sidney Poitier's mother in the 1967 film Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.

Death and legacy

Richards died from emphysema in her hometown of Vicksburg, Mississippi at the age of 80, just four days after winning an Emmy award.

In the last year of her life, Richards was the subject of a documentary created by actress Lisa Gay Hamilton. The documentary Beah: A Black Woman Speaks was created from over 70 hours of their conversations. The film won the Grand Jury Prize at the AFI Film Festival.

Filmography

Feature films
Year Title Role Notes
1958 The Mugger Grecco Maid
1959 Take a Giant Step May Scott
1962 The Miracle Worker Viney the Maid Uncredited
1963 Gone Are the Days! Idella Landy
1967 Hurry Sundown Rose Scott
1967 In the Heat of the Night Mama Caleba
1967 Guess Who's Coming to Dinner Mrs. Prentice Nominated — Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
1970 The Great White Hope Mama Tiny NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
1972 The Biscuit Eater Charity Tomlin
1973 A Dream For Christmas Grandma Bessie
1975 Mahogany Florence
1986 Inside Out Verna
1987 Big Shots Miss Hanks
1989 Homer and Eddie Linda Cervi
1989 Drugstore Cowboy Drug Counselor
1998 Beloved Baby Suggs Nominated — NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Beah Richards para niños

Black History Month on Kiddle
African-American Astronauts:
Victor J. Glover
Yvonne Cagle
Jeanette Epps
Bernard A. Harris Jr.
kids search engine
Beah Richards Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.