Denise Nicholas Biography (1944-)

Born July 12, 1944 (some sources say 1945) in Detroit, MI (some sources say Delaware); daughter of Otto Nicholas and Louise Carolyn Burgen; married Gilbert Moses (a theater artistic director), 1964 (divorced, 1965); married Bill Withers (a singer; divorced); married Jim Hill (a sportscaster), 1981. Education: Attended the University of Michigan, 1962-64; and the University ofSouthern California, B.A., drama, 1987; trained for the stage with Paul Mannand Lloyd Richards; studied dance with Louis Johnson and voice with KristanLinklater at the Negro Ensemble Company. Addresses: Agent-- Paul Kohner, Los Angeles, CA. Career: Actress, writer, and producer. Appeared in productions with Media Forum Players, CA, and at Old Reliable TheatreTavern, New York City; member of original acting company, Negro Ensemble Company, New York City, 1967-68; artist in residence, Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute, 1987-88; acting teacher, University of Southern California, 1987-89; founding member, Free Southern Theatre, New Orleans, LA; founder and co-owner,Masai Films, Inc., Hollywood, CA; producer, Artists and Athletes against Apartheid: A Benefit, Beverly Wilshire Hotel; producer, The Media ForumPresents, Wilshire Ebell Hotel. Chair, Fourth Annual American Airlines/Jet Celebrity Tennis Classic, United Negro College Fund Super Tennis Week, 1978; secretary, Negro Ensemble Company; works with Neighbors of Watts, Inc. (an organization for the care of children); and worked as a secretary forJ. Walter Thompson. Member: Actors' Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Women in Film. Awards, Honors: Golden Globe Award nominations, best TV actress--drama, 1970-72, and three Emmy Award nominations, all for Room 222; CEBA Awards, for excellence for advertising and communications, 1981-82;Cultural Artist of the Year, Harvard University Harvard Foundation, 1995; five National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Awards;two Los Angeles Emmy Awards for Voices of Our People: In Celebration of Black Poetry. Addresses: Agent: Paul Kohner, Los Angeles, CA.

Actress, writer, producer
Birth Details
July 12, 1944
Detroit, Michigan, United States

Famous Works

  • Film Appearances
  • Michelle, Blacula, American International Pictures, 1972
  • Elena, The Soul of Nigger Charley, Paramount, 1973
  • Irene Mapes, Mr. Ricco, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1975
  • Beth Foster, Let's Do It Again, Warner Bros., 1975
  • Lila French, A Piece of the Action, Warner Bros., 1977
  • Betty Walker, Capricorn One, Warner Bros., 1978
  • (As Denise Nicholas-Hill) Vanessa Jackson, Marvin and Tige, Lorimar, 1983
  • Joan, Ghost Dad,1990
  • Sylvia Becker, Ritual, Gotham Entertainment, 2000
  • Film Work
  • Producer of short films, all with Masai Films: Navy Junior R.O.T.C. and Welcome Aboard, both for the U.S. Navy; Aquarius(animated), for Mattel Electronics; The Road Rapper, for the California Department of Highways; also Doing Business in Nigeria.
  • Television Appearances
  • Series
  • Liz McKintyre, guidance counselor, Room 222, ABC, 1969-74
  • Olivia Ellis, his wife, Baby, I'm Back, CBS, 1978
  • Councilwoman Harriet DeLong, In the Heat of the Night,1989-94
  • Also appeared in Yes, Inc., PBS.
  • Movies
  • Joy, Five Desperate Women, ABC, 1971
  • Marva Trotter Louis, Ring of Passion(also known as Countdown tothe Big One), 1978
  • (As Denise Nicholas Hill) Connie, Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls(also known as Valley of the Dolls), 1981
  • Supercarrier(also known as Deadly Enemies), 1988
  • Elizabeth Sturgis, Mother's Day(also known as Lethal Error), 1989
  • Cleo Babilonia, On Thin Ice: The Tai Babilonia Story, NBC, 1990
  • Harriet DeLong, In the Heat of the Night: A Matter of Justice, CBS, 1994
  • Harriet DeLong, In the Heat of the Night: Who Was Geli Bendl?, CBS, 1994
  • Harriet DeLong, In the Heat of the Night: By Duty Bound, CBS, 1995
  • Harriet DeLong, In the Heat of the Night: Grow Old Along with Me,CBS, 1995
  • Lettie, The Rockford Files: Murder and Misdemeanors, CBS, 1997
  • Miniseries
  • Pat, The Sophisticated Gents, NBC, 1981
  • Specials
  • CBS team member, Battle of the Network Stars IV,1978
  • Nurse Reilly, The Big Stuffed Dog,1980
  • Wife, And the Children Shall Lead(also known as Wonderworks: And the Children Shall Lead), PBS, 1985
  • Jean Kincaid, Heart and Soul,1989
  • The 19th Annual Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame,1992
  • Pilots
  • Connie, Jacqueline Susann's "Valley of the Dolls," CBS, 1981
  • Also appeared in Over Here, Mr. President, HBO.
  • Episodic
  • "To Catch a Roaring Lion," It Takes a Thief, ABC, 1968
  • "Eye of the Storm," The F.B.I., ABC, 1969
  • Jyro, "Logoda's Heads," Night Gallery,1971
  • "A Community of Victims," Police Story,1975
  • "Substitute Mother," Diff'rent Strokes, NBC, 1980
  • (As Denise Nicholas-Hill) T. C.'s date, "I Witness," Magnum, P.I.,1984
  • Lorraine, "Birthday Blues," The Cosby Show,1989
  • "Plates," B.L. Stryker,1990
  • Carol Garrison, "Here's to Old Friends," A Different World, NBC, 1990
  • Mrs. Walker, "My Dinner with Mark," Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, ABC, 1992
  • Storytime, PBS, 1994
  • Miss Hickes, "A Kiss Is Just a Kiss," The Parent 'Hood, The WB, 1995
  • Lilah James, "One Degree of Separation," Living Single, Fox, 1997
  • Lilah James, "Never Can Say Goodbye," Living Single, Fox, 1997
  • Also appeared in N.Y.P.D., ABC; Rhoda, CBS; Marcus Welby, M.D., ABC; One Day at a Time, CBS; The Paper Chase, CBS;The Love Boat(two episodes), ABC; Masquerade, ABC; and Benson, ABC.
  • Television Work
  • Stage Appearances
  • (Off-Broadway debut) Viet Rock, Martinique Theatre, 1966
  • The Song of the Lusitanian Bogey, Negro Ensemble Company, St. Mark's Playhouse, New York City, 1967
  • Summer of the Seventeenth Doll, Negro Ensemble Company, St. Mark's Playhouse, 1968
  • Praise singer and dancer, Kongi's Harvest, Negro Ensemble Company, St. Mark's Playhouse, 1968
  • Lena, Daddy Goodness, Negro Ensemble Company, St. Mark's Playhouse, 1968
  • Young girl, Ceremonies in Dark Old Men, Negro Ensemble Company, Pocket Theatre, New York City, 1968 then St. Mark's Playhouse, 1969
  • Angela, Dame Lorraine, Los Angeles Actors Theatre, Los Angeles, CA, 1982 . Panzi Lew McVain, Long Time Since Yesterday, New Federal Theatre, New York City, 1985
  • Suzanne Alexander, The Ohio State Murders, American Repertory Theatre, Hasty Pudding Theatre, Cambridge, MA, 2000
  • Also appeared as Janie, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute; in Poetry Show, Judson Poets Theatre, New York City; and as Rosa Parks, Buses, University of Southern California.
  • Major Tours
  • Black woman, In White America, Free Southern Theatre, U.S. cities,1964
  • Young actress, Three Boards and a Passion, U.S. cities, 1966
  • Also appeared as Lutiebell, Purlie Victorious, neighbor woman, The Rifles of Senora Carrar, player, Does Man Help Man?, and the girlfriend, Shadow of a Gunman, all Free Southern Theatre, U.S. cities;in An Evening of Afro-American Poetry and Song, Free Southern Theatre, U.S. cities; and was assistant stage manager, Waiting for Godot, Free Southern Theatre, U.S. cities.
  • Radio Appearances
  • Appeared as Dr. Judith Kaufman, An American Daughter, Los AngelesTheatre Works, on National Public Radio.
  • In the Heat of the Night, CBS, 1991-93
  • Plays
  • Other
  • The Denise Nicholas Beauty Book(nonfiction), Cornerstone Library,1971
  • Further Reference


      • Jet, May 9, 1994 , p. 54.

    User Contributions:

    Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic: