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Mary Alice, an actress who endeared herself to fans with her performances in films such as SparkleThe Women of Brewster Place, on stage in August Wilson’s Fences, and on TV with A Different World, has died. She was 85.

Alice died in her home in New York City on Wednesday (July 27), according to the NYPD and confirmed by The Hollywood Reporter.

A venerable actress known for her elegance and stately performances, Alice won a Tony Award in 1987 for her portrayal of Rose in Fences alongside James Earl Jones as Troy and Courtney B. Vance‘s Corey. She was inducted in the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 2000.

She told the New York Times of her portrayal as Rose, “I based her not only on myself but on my mother, my aunts, my grandmother and other women I knew growing up in Chicago in the 1950s. Sometimes you just feel an affinity; you immediately know who a person is, and she’s one of those roles I identified with very early on.”

“These were women who were not educated, living in a time before women’s liberation, and their identities were tied up in their husbands. They put up with a lot of indignities and humiliations because they were women and were attached to men, and their life outside the house was very limited. Other than going to church, it was family.”

Alice also made her presence felt on television, twice nominated for Emmy Awards in 1992 and 1993, winning in the latter year for her performance as Marguerite Peck in the Atlanta-based NBC drama I’ll Fly Away. As dorm director Lettie Bostic on A Different World, she became a place of home for characters such as Lisa Bonet‘s Denise Huxtable, Charnele Brown‘s Kim Reese and Kadeem Hardison‘s Dwayne Wayne, initially returning to Hillman as a student to get her degree before becoming dorm director.

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Mary Alice, Emmy Award-Winning Actress Known For ‘Sparkle’ & ‘A Different World’ Dead At 85  was originally published on