Mary Alice, Actress in ‘A Different World’ and ‘Sparkle,’ Dies

Emmy-winning actress Mary Alice, known for her roles as Leticia “Lettie” Bostic on NBC‘s “A Different World” and as Effie Williams in the 1976 musical drama “Sparkle,” died Wednesday in New York City, according to the NYPD. Her birth year had been reported both as 1936 and 1941 in various sources.

In “The Matrix Revolutions,” she played the Oracle and also played the role in the video game “Enter the Matrix.”

She appeared in “A Different World” for two seasons, and also played Ellie Grant Hubbard on “All My Children” in the 1980s.

In films, she appeared in “Malcolm X,” “The Inkwell,” “Down in the Delta,” “Beat Street,” “To Sleep With Anger,” “Awakenings,” “The Bonfire of the Vanities” and “Sunshine State,” among many others.

Born Mary Alice Smith in Indianola, Miss., she pursued acting at a very early age, starting her stage career in her hometown. After a brief stint as an elementary school teacher, Alice returned to acting in the 1960s with community theater and worked her way up to stage productions in Manhattan’s East Village throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s.

She transitioned into film roles in 1974 with her screen debut in “The Education of Sonny Carson,” and appearances in television shows like “Police Woman” and “Sanford and Son.” Alice’s award accolades include an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for 1993’s “I’ll Fly Away.” She also won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her role in the 1987 production of August Wilson’s “Fences.”

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

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