skip navigation
Rosetta Lenoire

Rosetta Lenoire

Up
Down

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (0)

Recent DVDs

 
 

Rosetta Lenoire - NOT AVAILABLE

Find what your looking for faster use the search field below to shop for titles.

SEARCH TCM.COM/SHOP


OR ... Click here to VOTE > for this person to be released on Home Video



Also Known As: Rosetta Olive Burton Died: March 17, 2002
Born: August 8, 1911 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: New York City, New York, USA Profession: artistic director, actor, singer, dancer, playwright, playground instructor, hat designer, receptionist, bookkeeper, telephone operator

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Short and sassy, Rosetta LeNoire was a senior citizen before America discovered her allure through her appearances as Nell Carter's mother on the NBC sitcom "Gimme a Break" in the 1980s and as Mother Winslow on "Family Matters" in the 90s. But, truth be told, LeNoire was not just a Broadway veteran; she had danced with her godfather Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson, had done experimental TV in the 40s, had founded a respected theater company and so loved to perform that she would perform Shakespeare at a convalescent home if that were her only venue (and she has!) Born in New York to a family with connections in the burgeoning artistic milieu of Harlem, the teenaged LeNoire took piano lessons from the equally legendary composer Eubie Blake. She first performed professionally in 1926 as a dancer in a revue with Bojangles, and in 1936 played the First Witch in a production of "Macbeth". She reached Broadway in 1939 alongside Bojangles in "The Hot Mikado" and later toured with the show. She was in the original Broadway cast of Philip Yordan's "Anna Lucasta"--which was turned from all-black to all-white for the 1949 film version. LeNoire, however, reprised her stage role in the all-black 1958 remake,...

Short and sassy, Rosetta LeNoire was a senior citizen before America discovered her allure through her appearances as Nell Carter's mother on the NBC sitcom "Gimme a Break" in the 1980s and as Mother Winslow on "Family Matters" in the 90s. But, truth be told, LeNoire was not just a Broadway veteran; she had danced with her godfather Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson, had done experimental TV in the 40s, had founded a respected theater company and so loved to perform that she would perform Shakespeare at a convalescent home if that were her only venue (and she has!)

Born in New York to a family with connections in the burgeoning artistic milieu of Harlem, the teenaged LeNoire took piano lessons from the equally legendary composer Eubie Blake. She first performed professionally in 1926 as a dancer in a revue with Bojangles, and in 1936 played the First Witch in a production of "Macbeth". She reached Broadway in 1939 alongside Bojangles in "The Hot Mikado" and later toured with the show. She was in the original Broadway cast of Philip Yordan's "Anna Lucasta"--which was turned from all-black to all-white for the 1949 film version. LeNoire, however, reprised her stage role in the all-black 1958 remake, co-starring with Eartha Kitt and Sammy Davis Jr. In the 1950s, LeNoire was much associated with the Corning Glass Theatre, and she last performed on Broadway as Rheba in "You Can't Take It With You" (1983, reprising the role in a cable TV production).

LeNoire is also legendary as a theatrical producer. In 1968, she founded the AMAS (Spanish for "to love") Repertory Theatre Company and has since produced, created and occasionally appeared in a host of productions, including the original 1980 version of "Mama, I Want to Sing", which later toured the country (LeNoire produced, but did not perform). In 1976, she established the Eubie Blake Children's Theatre and LeNoire has since spent much of her time performing in school, youth centers, and even shelters.

While she did some experimental TV work in the 40s and appeared as Noah's Wife in the 1957 "Hallmark Hall of Fame" production of Marc Connolly's "Green Pastures" (NBC), LeNoire did not see her TV career become solid until the late 60s, when she joined the cast of the ABC soap opera "A World Apart" in a regular role. She then went on to appear on "The Guiding Light" (CBS, 1971), "Another World" (NBC, 1971-73) and "Ryan's Hope" (ABC, 1975). The actress moved to primetime with the short-lived "Calucci's Department" (CBS, 1973). But it was in the 80s when she finally clicked. Beginning in 1981, LeNoire made several guest appearances on "Gimme a Break" as Nell Carter's contentious mother. Finally, in 1986, she became a regular, moving in with Nell despite the fact the two did not get along. The exposure gave LeNoire a TV Q and she was cast as the widowed Mother Winslow who moves in with her son's family on the premiere episode of "Family Matters" (ABC, 1989-97; CBS, 1997-98). She has remained with the series, although in more recent seasons her character remarried and she moved out of the Winslow home, reducing her role into a more recurring rather than regular one. (It also has been said that LeNoire takes much of her hefty TV pay checks and puts it back into her theater foundations.)

LeNoire has also appeared in a handful of TV-movies, notably in "The Father Clements Story" (NBC, 1987), as mother to priest Louis Gossett Jr. Her feature film work has been limited mostly to smaller roles. In 1972, she did voice work for the animated "Fritz the Cat" and was the nurse to Walter Matthau's Willie in "The Sunshine Boys" (1975). LeNoire was Ethel Rosenberg's prison matron in "Daniel" (1983), a judge opposite Robin Williams in "Moscow on the Hudson" (1984), and a kindly woman with whom Joe Morton has contact in John Sayles' "The Brother From Another Planet" (also 1984).

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Father Clements Story, The (1987) Mrs Clements
2.
 Whatever It Takes (1986) Millie
3.
 Lily in Love (1985)
4.
 Moscow on the Hudson (1984) Judge
6.
 Brewster's Millions (1983) Judge
7.
 Daniel (1983) Prison Matron
8.
 Benny's Place (1982)
9.
 The Sunshine Boys (1975) Nurse
10.
 Maverick Square (1991) Mrs Lewis
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
As a child suffered from rickets; at age seven, doctors broke both her legs so the bones could grow properly
1924:
Took music lessons from Eubie Blake at age 13
1926:
Performed with Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson as a member of the Time Steppers
1936:
Played the First Witch in a NYC stage production of "Macbeth", produced by Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre
1939:
Broadway debut, "The Hot Mikado"; toured USA in role in 1941-42
1943:
Toured with USO troupe of "Your Can't Take It With You"
1944:
Originated role of Stella in "Anna Lucasta"; reprised role in 1947 Broadway production
1951:
Was member of the Corning Glass Theater in Corning, New York
1957:
Co-starred in TV version of "Green Pastures" (NBC)
1958:
Reprised stage role in feature version of "Anna Lucasta"
1968:
Founded AMAS Repertory Theatre
1969:
Was regular on soap opera "A World Apart" (ABC)
1971:
Had regular role on "The Guiding Light" (CBS)
1971:
Appeared regularly on "Another World" (NBC)
1973:
Had first primetime regular series role on "Calucci's Department" (CBS)
1975:
Returned to daytime with a role on "Ryan's Hope" (ABC)
1975:
Played Walter Matthau's nurse in the feature "The Sunshine Boys"
1975:
Produced and helped to shape the musical "Bubbling Brown Sugar" at AMAS; show later was produced on Broadway
1976:
Founded the Eubie Blake Children's Theatre
1981:
Made first appearance on the NBC sitcom "Gimme a Break" as Nell's mother; became a series regular in 1986
1983:
Returned to Broadway in revival of "You Can't Take It With You"; recreated role for the TV version
:
Played Mother Winslow on "Family Matters" (ABC, 1989-1997; CBS 1997-1998)
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Hunter College: New York , New York -
Commerce High School: New York , New York - 1935
Betty Cashman Dramatic School: New York , New York - 1946
American Theatre Wing: New York , New York - 1950
ASFTA Dramatic School: New York , New York - 1955 - 1958

Notes

In 1989, Actors Equity Association founded the annual Rosetta LeNoire Award; LeNoire was the first recipient which recognized "her outstanding artistic contributions to the universality of the human experience in the American theater."

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
William LeNoire. Elevator operator. Married on September 27, 1929; divorced on May 7, 1943.
husband:
Egbert F Brown. Married in 1948 until his death.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Harold Charles Burton.
mother:
Marie Burton.
godfather:
Bill Robinson. Dancer. LeNoire appeared with him as a teenager.
sister:
Mary A Francis. Survived her.
brother:
Wimote Burton. Survived her.
brother:
Warren Burton. Survived her.
son:
William LeNoire. From first marriage.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute