Maude Simmons was a dignified African-American actress whose career in legitimate theater dated from the 1920s. She made her Broadway debut in the original cast of Jerome Kern's Show Boat and subsequently appeared in Sing out the News. After World War II, her theater work included performances in the cast of Finian's Rainbow and The Wisteria Trees. Despite her obvious talent, range, and quietly dignified presence, Simmons found film roles few and far between, as was typical for African-American performers of her era (especially women), and, as a result, many opportunities to see her work onscreen were lost. She made her big-screen debut in Junction 88 (1940), an hour-long film built around black performers (most notably Pigmeat Markham). Her biggest dramatic role was in William Dieterle and David O. Selznick's Portrait of Jennie (1948) in the part of Clara Morgan. She also had an uncredited role in Joseph L. Mankiewicz's No Way Out (1950), playing Luther's mother.