Beah Richards: A Mother To Many Black Actors During Her Acting Career

Written by Jae Jones

was a well-known face on television during the 1960s. She was an American actress of the silver screen, stage and television. Many people might not know it, but Richards was also a poet, author, and playwright.

Born “Beulah Elizabeth Richardson” in Vicksburg, Mississippi, she studied at Dillard University in New Orleans and began her acting career in 1948 at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego. Her first big break came when she portrayed an 84-year-old grandmother in the off-Broadway show, “Take a Giant Step.”

She continued playing these motherly types of roles throughout her acting career. Richards appeared in other Broadway productions such as “The Miracle Worker” and “Purlie Victorious.” In 1959, she appeared in ”Raisin in the Sun” at the Yale Repertory Theater. Richards also appeared in television shows such as The Bill Cosby Show, Sanford and Son, Benson, ER, and many others. Her most notable work was her role in Roots: The Next Generation.

Richards was nominated for a Tony award for her performance in James Baldwin’s “The Amen Corner.” She was also nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Sidney Poitier’s mother in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”  She won two daytime Emmy awards, one in 1988 for her appearance on the series “Frank’s Place,” and another in 2000 for her role on “The Practice.”

Richards was inducted into the Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 1974. She died her hometown in Mississippi in 2000 at the age of 80.


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About the author

Jae Jones

Jae Jones has been writing professionally for over 10 years. She holds a degree in Business Administration, and enjoys writing on various topics.

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