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Beah Richards was a veteran stage, film and television actress who worked over four decades in a number of prominent productions. The Oscar, Golden Globe, and Tony Award-nominated actress won the first of her pair of Emmy awards on this day in 1988 for her role on CBS’ Frank’s Place.

Richards was born in Vicksburg, Miss. on July 12, 1920. Her parents, a Baptist minister father and seamstress mother, encouraged their daughter to pursue acting as a career when she was a student at Dillard University. Leaving school in 1948, she arrived in New York and broke into the filed in the early ’50’s.

After working some smaller off-Broadway roles, Richards made her way to the big Broadway stages in plays such as A Raisin In The Sun, The Miracle Worker, and Purlie Victorious. Richards received a Tony nomination for a role in James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner in 1965.

Two years later, she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, playing the mother of Poitier’s lead character. The first Outstanding Guest Performer Emmy came for her role as Mrs. Varden for Frank’s Place and in 2000, she was given the Outstanding Guest Actress Emmy for her role as Gertrude Turner in ABC’s The Practice.

By this point, Richards had been battling a health condition and couldn’t accept her award in person. She passed shortly after receiving her second award at age 80.

PHOTO: United Artists/Public Domain

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Little Known Black History Fact: Beah Richards was originally published on blackamericaweb.com

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