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Mary Alice obituary: A Different World and Sparkle actress dies at 85


Mary Alice was an actress who starred in the musical film “Sparkle” and won a Tony award for her performance in “Fences.”

Award winning actress   

Mary Alice (born Mary Alice Smith) was an elementary school teacher before becoming a full-time actress. After doing some theater work in Chicago, she moved to New York City and studied with Lloyd Richards. She did theater work in New York and appeared on the television series “Police Woman” and “Sanford and Son.” She won a Tony for Best Featured Actress in a play in 1987 for her role as Rose in August Wilson’s play “Fences.” Alice won an Emmy for a guest turn on “I’ll Fly Away.” On the big screen, she starred in the musical film “Sparkle,” which was loosely based on the story of the Supremes and played a nurse in “Awakenings.” She was a regular cast member for the first two seasons of the sitcom “A Different World,” playing dorm director Leticia Bostic. Younger fans may know her for her role as The Oracle in the first two “Matrix” films.  

Notable Quote  

“I based her not only on myself but on my mother, my aunts, my grandmother and other women I knew growing up in Chicago in the 1950s. Sometimes you just feel an affinity; you immediately know who a person is, and she’s one of those roles I identified with very early on.” – She told the New York Times in 1987 about her “Fences” character Rose  

Tributes to Mary Alice  

Full Obituary: The Hollywood Reporter

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