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Mary Alice, Tony-Winning Original Rose in August Wilson's Fences, Has Died

Alice also appeared on the TV series A Different World, in addition to countless theater and screen productions.

Mary Alice
(© Tristan Fuge)

Mary Alice, the Tony-winning original Rose from August Wilson's Fences, has died. Alice was in her 80s, with various ages reported.

Born Mary Alice Smith, she made her Broadway debut in 1969's No Place to Be Somebody, following that up in 1987 with her searing performance in Fences, which also earned her a Drama Desk Award. She returned to Broadway in 1994's The Shadow Box and made her last appearance in 1995's Having Our Say, for which she earned additional Tony and Drama Desk nominations.

Off-Broadway, her plethora of credits range from Day of Absence to Miss Julie to Zooman and the Sign and The Vagina Monologues, along with a storied performance as Queen Margaret in the 1990 Shakespeare in the Park production of Richard III opposite Denzel Washington. Regionally, she was seen in productions at Arena Stage, the Goodman, the Long Wharf, Yale Rep, and many others. She studied at the Negro Ensemble Company with Lloyd Richards.

Alice earned an Emmy in 1993 for I'll Fly Away and played Lettie Bostic in the series A Different World. Her screen credits also include All My Children, and the films Sparkle, Malcom X, and 2003's The Matrix Revolutions, among countless others.

Alice was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 2000, and she retired from acting in 2005.


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