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Mary Alice
Alice at the 45th Emmy Awards Governor's Ball, 1993
Mary Alice Smith

December 3, 1936[1][a]
DiedJuly 27, 2022(2022-07-27) (aged 85)[2]
EducationChicago Teacher's College
Years active1969–2005
Known forEffie Williams – Sparkle
Leticia "Lettie" Bostic – A Different World

Mary Alice Smith (December 3, 1936[1][a] – July 27, 2022), known professionally as Mary Alice, was an American television, film, and stage actress. Alice was known for her roles as Leticia "Lettie" Bostic on the sitcom A Different World (1987–1989) and Effie Williams in the 1976 musical drama Sparkle, and won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her recurring role on the series I'll Fly Away. Alice also performed on the stage, and received a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her appearance in the 1987 production of August Wilson's Fences.[3][4]

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  • The Story Of Mary Alice Young (Angela Forrest) - Desperate Housewives
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  • Introducing Mary Alice / Her Death
  • Desperate Housewives - How it all began


Early life and education

Born Mary Alice Smith in Indianola, Mississippi, Alice was the daughter of Ozelar (née Jurnakin/Journakin) and Sam Smith.[1][citation needed] She showed an early and natural ability for acting, and began her stage career in her hometown.[5] Her family moved from Mississippi to Chicago when she was two years old. She graduated from Chicago Teacher's College (now known as Chicago State University), and taught at an elementary school.[6]


Mary Alice returned to acting in the mid-1960s through community theater and appeared in three Douglass Turner Ward's plays, including Days of Absence and Happy Endings. Mary Alice also washed the cast's laundry for a salary of $200 a week.[7] She did some acting in New York City during the late 1960s and early 1970s, performing in multiple productions at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in Manhattan's East Village between 1969 and 1973. Her first production at La MaMa was Adrienne Kennedy's A Rat's Mass in September 1969.[8] She reprised her role as Sister Rat in the October 1969 production,[9] and again in the January 1971 production.[10] All three productions were directed by Seth Allen. In 1970, Mary Alice performed in Ed Bullins' Street Sounds, directed by Hugh Gittens.[11] She later performed in Lamar Alford's Thoughts in December 1972[12] and January 1973.[13]

Mary Alice made her screen début in the 1974 film The Education of Sonny Carson, and later appeared in the television shows Police Woman and Sanford and Son. She played Ellie Grant Hubbard on the soap opera All My Children during the mid-1980s, and the role of Cora in Stan Lathan's 1984 cult-classic Beat Street, as well as co–starred in A Different World as Leticia 'Lettie' Bostic from the series' start in 1987 until the end of the second season in 1989.[5] She won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 1993 for I'll Fly Away.[5] Her other film credits include Malcolm X (1992), The Inkwell (1994), and Down in the Delta (1998).[5]

In 2000, she was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame.[14] She replaced Gloria Foster as the Oracle in the sequel The Matrix Revolutions (2003) [15] and the video game tie-in Enter the Matrix (2003) after Foster, who originated the role, died in 2001. She retired from acting in 2005.[16]

Personal life and death

In her personal life, the American versatile actress was married to Paul Young, also known to be Mark Moses. They had been married for some time now. She passed away surviving her husband Paul Young and their only son Zach Kasch.

Alice died on July 27, 2022, at her residence in Manhattan at the age of 85 due to natural causes.[17][18][19]



Year Title Role Notes
1974 The Education of Sonny Carson Moms
1976 Sparkle Effie Williams
1981 The Color of Friendship Mrs. Garth
1984 Beat Street Cora Kirkland
Concealed Enemies Edith Murray
Teachers Linda Ganz
1990 To Sleep with Anger Suzie Nominated — Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead
The Bonfire of the Vanities Annie Lamb
Awakenings Nurse Margaret
1992 Malcolm X School Teacher
1993 A Perfect World Lottie
Life with Mikey Mrs. Gordon
1994 The Inkwell Evelyn
1996 Bed of Roses Alice
1998 Down in the Delta Rosa Lynn Sinclair
1999 Catfish in Black Bean Sauce Dolores Williams
2000 The Photographer Violet
2002 Sunshine State Mrs. Eunice Stokes
2003 The Matrix Revolutions The Oracle Nominated — Black Reel Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress


Year Title Role Notes
1975 Police Woman Marnie 1 episode
1975 Sanford and Son Frances Victor 2 episodes
1975 Good Times Loretta Simpson 1 episode
1975 The Family Holvak Samantha Wilson 1 episode
1976 Insight Karen Fuller 1 episode
1976 Just an Old Sweet Song Helen Mayfield Television movie
1976 Serpico Angel 1 episode
1976 Visions Evelyn Burrell 1 episode
1979 Lawman Without a Gun Minnie Hayward Television film
1980 All My Children Ellie Grant Hubbard unknown episode(s)
1987–1989 A Different World Leticia "Lettie" Bostic Main role, 25 episodes
1989 The Women of Brewster Place Fannie Michael 2 episodes
1990 L.A. Law Maxine Manley 1 episode
1992 I'll Fly Away Marguerite Peck Recurring role, 7 episodes
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
1993 Laurel Avenue Maggie Arnett Television film
Nominated — CableACE Award for Best Actress in a Movie or Miniseries
1993 Law & Order Virginia Bryan 1 episode
1994 Great Performances 1 episode
1997 Orleans Ella Clark 1 episode
1999 Cosby Loretta 4 episodes
2000 Touched by an Angel Georgia Bishop 1 episode
2000 Providence Abby Franklin 1 episode
2001 Soul Food Mrs. Pettaway 1 episode
2002 Oz Eugenia Hill 1 episode
2004 Line of Fire Jackie Simon 1 episode
2004 The Jury Elaine Nebatoff 1 episode
2005 Kojak Joyce 1 episode


Year Title Role Notes
1969–1971 No Place to Be Somebody Cora Beasley
1981 A Full-Length Portrait of America Emma
1987–1988 Fences Rose Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play;
Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play
1994–1995 The Shadow Box Maggie
1995 Having Our Say Dr. Bessie Delaney Nominated — Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play;
Nominated — Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2003 Enter the Matrix The Oracle [20]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated Work Result
1987 Tony Awards Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play Fences Won
1987 Drama Desk Award Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play Fences Won
1990 Independent Spirit Awards Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead To Sleep with Anger Nominated
1992 Emmy Awards Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series I'll Fly Away Nominated
1993 Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series I'll Fly Away Won
1994 CableACE Award Best Actress in a Movie or Miniseries Laurel Avenue Nominated
1995 Tony Awards Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play Having Our Say Nominated
1995 Drama Desk Awards Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play Having Our Say Nominated
2004 Black Reel Awards Black Reel Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress The Matrix Revolutions Nominated


  1. ^ a b or (1941-12-03)December 3, 1941[21] (sources differ)


  1. ^ a b c – Mary Alice Smith in household of Sam Smith, Chicago, Cook, Illinois, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 103-2647, sheet 7B, line 74, family 162, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 – 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, roll 1005
  2. ^ "Mary Alice, Actress in 'Fences,' 'Sparklex' and 'The Matrix Revolutions,' Dies at 85". July 28, 2022. Retrieved July 29, 2022.
  3. ^ "Mary Alice". The Broadway League. Retrieved March 30, 2013.
  4. ^ Company, Johnson Publishing (June 22, 1987). "Jet". Johnson Publishing Company – via Google Books.
  5. ^ a b c d "Mary Alice- Biography". Yahoo!. Retrieved March 30, 2013.
  6. ^ "Alice, Mary".
  7. ^ McCann, Bob (2007). Encyclopedia of African American Actresses in Film and Television. McFarland. ISBN 9780786458042. Retrieved October 1, 2017.
  8. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: A Rat's Mass (1969a)". Accessed May 14, 2018.
  9. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: A Rat's Mass (1969b)". Accessed May 14, 2018.
  10. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: A Rat's Mass (1971)". Accessed May 14, 2018.
  11. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: Street Sounds (1970)". Accessed May 14, 2018.
  12. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: Thoughts (1972)". Accessed May 14, 2018.
  13. ^ La MaMa Archives Digital Collections. "Production: Thoughts (1973)". Accessed May 14, 2018.
  14. ^ "Theater family comes together to celebrate Hall of Fame honorees". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved February 13, 2014.
  15. ^ Scott, A. O. (November 5, 2003). "The Matrix Revolutions (2003) FILM REVIEW; The Game Concludes With Light And Noise". The New York Times.
  16. ^ Shaw-Williams, HAannah (February 6, 2020). "Why the Matrix Recast the Oracle for Revolutions". Screen Rant.
  17. ^ Elizabeth Blair (July 28, 2022). "Tony and Emmy winning actress Mary Alice has died at age 85". NPR. Retrieved July 29, 2022.
  18. ^ Jones, Alexis (July 28, 2022). "Mary Alice, A Different World and Sparkle Actress, Dead at 85: 'A Shoulder We All Stood On'; Mary Alice, who was best known for her roles in A Different World and Sparkle, died on Wednesday at her home in Manhattan". People. Retrieved January 8, 2023.
  19. ^ BET – Mary Alice, 'Different World', 'Sparkle' Actress Dies – July 27, 2022
  20. ^ Shiny Entertainment. Enter the Matrix. Infogrames. Scene: Ending credits, 3:30:16 in, CAST.
  21. ^ "Mary Alice – Playbill". Playbill.

External links

This page was last edited on 20 March 2023, at 12:03
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