Beah Richards

Highest Rated: 100% Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
Lowest Rated: 0% Homer & Eddie (1989)
Birthday: Jul 12, 1920
Birthplace: Not Available
Born in Vicksburg, MS, in 1920, actress Beah Richards studied at Dillard University in New Orleans before pursuing an acting career on-stage in New York City. She appeared in Louis S. Peterson's off-Broadway play Take a Giant Step and in the film adaptation in 1959. In 1965, she received a Tony nomination for her role as Sister Margaret in James Baldwin's play The Amen Corner, and two years later she received an Academy Award nomination for her supporting role as Sidney Poitier's mother in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. She continued playing matriarch characters in the feature films Hurry Sundown, In the Heat of the Night, and The Great White Hope. During the '70s, she took over for Lillian Randolph as Bill Cosby's mother on The Bill Cosby Show, played Aunt Ethel on Sanford and Son, and played several grandmotherly characters in made-for-TV movies. More television appearances followed in the '80s, with recurring roles on Designing Women, Beauty and the Beast, Hill Street Blues, Roots: The Next Generations, and L.A. Law. In 1987, she received her first Emmy award for playing Olive Varden on Frank's Place. She has also directed plays at the Los Angeles Inner City Cultural Center, appeared in her own one-woman show, and published several plays and novels, including the poetry collection A Black Woman Speaks and Other Poems. After playing the substance abuse counselor in Gus Van Sant's Drugstore Cowboy, she made a bit of a comeback as Dr. Benton's (Eriq LaSalle) mother on the NBC medical drama ER and as Grandma Baby in Jonathan Demme's Beloved, based on the novel by Toni Morrison. She received an Emmy for her final television appearance as Gertrude Turner on the ABC drama The Practice. She died of emphysema in 2000.

Highest Rated Movies



78% Beloved Baby Suggs 1998
No Score Yet Out of Darkness Actor 1994
No Score Yet ER Mae Benton 1990
0% Homer & Eddie Linda Cervi 1989
100% Drugstore Cowboy Drug Counselor 1989
No Score Yet Big Shots Miss Hanks 1987
No Score Yet Inside Out Actor 1987
No Score Yet As Summers Die Elvira Backus 1986
No Score Yet Acceptable Risks Sally Framm 1986
No Score Yet Banjo the Woodpile Cat Zazu 1982
No Score Yet The Sophisticated Gents Actor 1981
No Score Yet A Christmas Without Snow Wendell's Grandma 1980
No Score Yet Ring of Passion (Countdown to the Big One) Actor 1978
No Score Yet Just an Old Sweet Song Grandma 1976
29% Mahogany Florence 1975
No Score Yet Dream for Christmas Bessie 1973
No Score Yet The Biscuit Eater Charity Tomlin 1972
No Score Yet Footsteps Jessie Blake 1972
43% The Great White Hope Mama Tina 1970
71% Guess Who's Coming to Dinner Mrs. Prentice 1967
96% In the Heat of the Night Mama Caleba 1967
25% Hurry Sundown Rose Scott 1967
No Score Yet Purlie Victorious Idella 1963
100% The Miracle Worker Viney 1962
No Score Yet Take a Giant Step May Scott 1959


No Score Yet The Practice
Gertrude Turner
  • 2000
No Score Yet ER
Mae Benton Mrs. Benton
  • 1995
  • 1994
No Score Yet Designing Women
Minnie Anthony's Grandmother
  • 1993
  • 1990
No Score Yet Murder, She Wrote
Emma Coop Ola Mae
  • 1991
  • 1988
20% Capital News
  • 1990
No Score Yet Beauty and the Beast
  • 1989
  • 1988
  • 1987
No Score Yet The Facts of Life
  • 1988
No Score Yet Highway to Heaven
Guest Mrs. Baldwin
  • 1986
  • 1985
No Score Yet St. Elsewhere
  • 1984
No Score Yet Sanford and Son
Aunt Ethel
  • 1972
No Score Yet It Takes a Thief
  • 1970
No Score Yet Ironside
Aunt Ruby
  • 1969


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