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Stage veteran actor, Lynda Gravatt dies at 76

Updated on: 28 February,2024 06:44 AM IST  |  Los Angeles

Her latest Broadway appearance was in 2008 when she understudied the character of Big Mama in 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' with James Earl Jones

Stage veteran actor, Lynda Gravatt dies at 76

Lynda Gravatt passes away

Actor Lynda Gravatt, who had her theatrical debuts in shows including 'Doubt,' '45 Seconds From Broadway,' 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,' 'The Old Settler,' and 'Intimate Apparel,' has passed away. She was 76.

David Gravatt, Lynda's son, told The Hollywood Reporter that his mother passed away on Friday at a New Brunswick, New Jersey, hospital.

Gravatt, a founding member of Robert Alexander's Living Stage at the renowned Arena Stage company in Washington, won a Theatre World award in 1999 for her performance as 1940s Harlem resident Quilly McGrath in 'The Old Settler' and an AUDELCO award in 2004 for her role as the bossy landlady Dickson in 'Intimate Apparel.'

In 2001, she stood in for Leslie Uggams as Ruby in August Wilson's King Hedley II, and she played Bessie James in Neil Simon's '45 Seconds From Broadway,' before appearing as Muller in John Patrick Shanley's Doubt in 2016.

Her latest Broadway appearance was in 2008 when she understudied the character of Big Mama in 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof' with James Earl Jones.

"If I'm employed, I'm happy," she told Backstage in a 2019 interview. "I always wanted to be the ingenue, but I'm usually cast as the pragmatic grandmother, even when I was young."

Gravatt was born in Harlem on May 24, 1947. Her actual father was James 'Stump' Cross, a tap dancer and comedian, but she was reared by adoptive parents.

She made her Broadway debut at the age of four in the original production of The King and I, starring Yul Brynner and Gertrude Lawrence and later played in Carnegie Hall recitals when she was nine years old, as per the Hollywood Reporter.

Gravatt attended Fairmont Heights High School in Capitol Heights, Maryland, and subsequently Howard University, where she performed in several shows before graduating in 1971. While in college, she performed on the Living Stage, which debuted in 1966.

Her theatrical credits included 'A Raisin in the Sun,' 'Crowns, Miss Witherspoon,' 'The Little Foxes,' 'Skeleton Crew,' 'The House That Will Not Stand,' and, in her final theatre appearance in 2018, 'The Revolving Cycles Truly' and 'Steadily Roll'd' at The Duke in New York.

Gravatt appeared on several television shows, including 'Sex and the City,' 'The Good Wife,' '30 Rock,' 'Elementary,' 'Madam Secretary,' 'Ramy,' and 'East New York.'

She was also a regular on the Showtime series 'The Hoop Life' from 1999 to 2000.

Gravatt was a founding faculty member at Washington's Duke Ellington School of the Arts, and she also taught at Howard and Rutgers.

Survivors include her sons, David (a former NBC News writer) and Oge; grandchildren Josephine, Lucas, Ishmael, Ishana, and Isabella; and half-sister, Peabody Award-winning documentarian June Cross. 

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