Mary Alice Biography (1941-)

Full name, Mary Alice Smith; born December 3, 1941, in Indianola, MS; daughter of Sam and Ozelar (maiden name, Jurnakin) Smith. Addresses: c/o Writers & Artists Agency, 8383 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90024-6095.

Favorite role--Alberta in The Sty of the Blind Pig. Mary Alicetold CTFT "I am very proud to be an actor. I chose this profession because I feel this is how I can fulfill my service as a human being--communicating the human condition.... My desire is to create interesting and complex characters on film and television."

Birth Details
December 3, 1941
Indianola, Mississippi, United States

Famous Works

  • Stage Appearances
  • (Off-Broadway debut) Trials of Jero, The Strong Breed, both Greenwich Mews Theatre, 1967
  • A Rat's Mass, La Mama Experimental Theatre Club (ETC), New York City, 1969
  • (Broadway debut) Cora Beasley, No Place to Be Somebody, Morosco Theatre, 1971
  • Velma Best, The Duplex, Forum Theatre, New York City, 1972
  • Christine, Miss Julie, Roundabout Theatre, New York City, 1973
  • Girlfriend, woman poet, and loved one, House Party, American PlaceTheatre, New York City, 1973
  • Thoughts, La Mama ETC, then Theatre de Lys, New York City, both 1973
  • Mhandi's wife, Black Sunlight, St. Mark's Playhouse, New York City, 1974
  • Older wife and Octavia, Terraces, St. Mark's Playhouse, 1974
  • Mrs. Moore, Heaven and Hell's Agreement, St. Mark's Playhouse, 1974
  • Maybelle, In the Deepest Part of Sleep, St. Mark's Playhouse,1974
  • Reba, Cockfight, American Place Theatre, 1977
  • Queeny, Nongogo, Manhattan Theatre Club, New York City, 1978
  • For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf, Adelaide Festival, Australia, 1978
  • Portia, Julius Caesar, New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, New York City, 1979
  • Player #9, Spell #7, New York Shakespeare Festival, Public Theatre, 1979
  • Rachel Tate, Zooman and the Sign, Negro Ensemble Company, TheatreFour, New York City, 1980
  • Phumla Hlophe, Glasshouse, Theatre at St. Peter's Church, NewYork City, 1981
  • Open Admissions, Long Wharf Theatre, New Haven, CT, 1982
  • Essie, Take Me Along, Manhattan Community College Performing ArtsCenter, New York City, 1984
  • A Raisin in the Sun, Yale Repertory Theatre, New Haven, CT, 1984
  • Rose, Fences, Goodman Theatre, Chicago, IL, 1985 , then 46th Street Theatre, New York City, 1987
  • Bessie, Having Our Say, McCart Theater, Princeton, NJ, then BoothTheater, New York City, 1995
  • Made stage debut in Purlie Victorious, Chicago, IL.
  • Film Appearances
  • (Film debut) Moms, The Education of Sonny Carson, Paramount, 1974
  • Effie, Sparkle, Warner Bros., 1976
  • Linda Ganz, Teachers, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/United Artists, 1984
  • Cora, Beat Street, Orion, 1985
  • Annie Lamb, The Bonfire of the Vanities, 1990
  • Suzie, To Sleep with Anger, 1990
  • Nurse Margaret, Awakenings, 1990
  • School teacher, Malcolm X, 1992
  • Lottie, A Perfect World, 1993
  • Mrs. Gordon, Life with Mikey (also known as Give Me a Break), 1993
  • Evelyn, The Inkwell (also known as No Ordinary Summer), 1994
  • Mary Jones, Heading Home, 1995
  • Alice, Bed of Roses, New Line Cinema, 1996
  • Grandma Rosa Lynn Sinclair, Down in the Delta, Miramax, 1998
  • Mattie, The Wishing Tree, 1999
  • Violet, The Photographer, 2000
  • Dolores Williams, Catfish in Black Bean Sauce, Iron Hill Pictures,2000
  • Television Appearances
  • Series
  • Mrs. Hubbard, All My Children, ABC, 1981
  • Lettie Bostic, a recurring role, A Different World, NBC, 1987-89
  • Marguerite Peck, I'll Fly Away, NBC, 1991-93
  • Movies
  • Helen Mayfield, Just an Old Sweet Song (also known as Down Home), CBS, 1976
  • Minnie Hayward, Lawman Without a Gun, 1977
  • Minnie Hayward, This Man Stands Alone, NBC, 1979
  • Altona Johns, The Vernon Johns Story (also known as The Road toFreedom: The Vernon Johns Story), syndicated, 1994
  • Adele Thompson, Ray Alexander: A Menu for Murder, NBC, 1995
  • Specials
  • Requiem for a Nun, PBS, 1975
  • Donie, Joshua's World, 1980
  • Mrs. Garth, The Color of Friendship, 1981
  • Lilah Dean, The Killing Floor, PBS, 1983
  • Edith Murray, Concealed Enemies, PBS, 1984
  • Blind Lilly, Charlotte Forten's Mission: Experiment in Freedom(also known as Half-Slave, Half-Free 2), 1985
  • Black lady, The Mother, PBS, 1994
  • Miniseries
  • Fannie Michael, The Women of Brewster Place, ABC, 1989
  • Maggie Arnett, Laurel Avenue, HBO, 1993
  • Episodic
  • Frances Victor, Sanford and Son, 1972
  • Alberta, "The Sty of the Blind Pig," Hollywood Television Theatre,PBS, 1974
  • Frances Victor, "My Brother-In-Law's Keeper," Sanford and Son,1975
  • Frances Victor, "Brother, Can You Spare an Act?," Sanford and Son, 1975
  • Loretta, "The Baby," Good Times, 1975
  • Maxine Manley, "Watts a Matter?," L.A. Law, NBC, 1990
  • Virginia Bryan, "Mother Love," Law & Order, NBC, 1993
  • Ella Clarke, "Baby-Sitting," Orleans, CBS, 1997
  • Loretta, "Afterschool Delight," Cosby, CBS, 1999

Further Reference


    • Current Biography, November, 1995, p. 38.
    • Essence, July, 1995, p. 50.

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