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Theresa Merritt was an actress who was no stranger to being featured in numerous film roles throughout her Hollywood career. She portrayed the legendary blues singer Ma Rainey in August Wilson's award-winning "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom." In 1973, she portrayed Mammy in the stage musical "Gone With the Wind." In 1972, she was in the cast of Melvin Van Peebles' "Don't Play Us Cheap." Merritt's acting career began mostly with her roles in various films, such as the comedy adaptation "They Might Be Giants" (1971) with George C Scott, the Richard Dreyfuss comedy "The Goodbye Girl" (1977) and the musical "The Wiz" (1978) with Diana Ross. She also appeared in the adaptation "All That Jazz" (1979) with Roy Scheider and the drama "The Great Santini" (1979) with Robert Duvall. She had an early role on the television special "J.T." (CBS, 1969-1970). She worked in television in her early acting career as well, including a part on "That's My Mama" (ABC, 1974-76). Her work around this time also included a part on the TV movie "Miracle at Beekman's Place" (NBC, 1988-89). She also contributed to a variety of television specials, including "Concealed Enemies" (PBS, 1983-84) and "My Man Bovanne" (PBS, 1986-87). She also worked in television around this time, including a part on "13 East" (NBC, 1988-1990). She also had roles in film during these years, including roles in "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas" (1982) and "Astonished" (1988). Merritt took on film roles in more recent years, appearing in the Bill Pullman thriller "The Serpent and the Rainbow" (1988), the Jami Gertz drama "Silence Like Glass" (1990) and the Adam Sandler comedy "Billy Madison" (1995). Additionally, she appeared on the television special "Driving Miss Daisy" (CBS, 1991-92). She also worked in television during these years, including roles in "NYPD Blue" (1993-2005) and "Cosby" (CBS, 1996-2000). Merritt last acted in the Drew Barrymore comedy "Home Fries" (1998). Merritt's husband was Benjamin Hines and Merritt had four children. Merritt passed away in June 1998 at the age of 76.
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Stage debut in "Carmen Jones" (date approximate)
Had a featured role in "They Might Be Giants"
Was in the cast of Melvin Van Peebles' "Don't Play Us Cheap"
Portrayed Mammy in the stage musical "Gone With the Wind"
Starred as Mama in the ABC sitcom "That's My Mama"
Returned to Broadway to play the wicked witch Eveline in "The Wiz," an all-black musical version of "The Wizard of Oz"
Cast as Auntie Em in Sidney Lumet's screen version of "The Wiz"
Played Jewel in "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas"
Last feature appearance in "Billy Madison"