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Virginia Capers_peliplat
Virginia Capers_peliplat

Virginia Capers

Actress  | 
Popularity: 1000+
Date of birth: 09/22/1925
Date of death: 05/06/2004
City of birth: Sumter, South Carolina, USA

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Biography

With plenty of heart and soul, singer/actress Virginia Capers served up loads of music in an entertainment career that spanned several decades. The benevolent, plus-sized talent was born Eliza Virginia Capers on September 22, 1925, in South Carolina and attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., before studying voice at Juilliard in Manhattan. She began her career on the Yiddish stage in 1950. By happenstance, Virginia was introduced to band leader Abe Lyman who hired her for his radio program and for on-the-road tours. In the late 50s, she had made it to all the way to Broadway with productions of "Jamaica" (1957) and then "Saratoga" (1959) albeit in chorus/understudy roles. Playing older than she was, the 34-year-old went on to take over the role of Grandma Obeah in the "Jamaica" production. Moving to TV and occasional film roles into the 1960's, Virginia found work on such TV programs as "Have Gun, Will Travel," "General Electric Theatre," "The Untouchables," "Daniel Boone," "Death Valley Days," "Judd for the Defense," "My Three Sons," "Marcus Welby," "Bracken's World," "Longstreet," "The Rookies," "Mannix" and a recurring role on Julia (1968). Infrequent movie work included minor roles in House of Women (1962), The Ride to Hangman's Tree (1967), The Lost Man (1969), Norwood (1970), The Great White Hope (1970), Big Jake (1971), Trouble Man (1972) and as Billie Holiday's mother in Lady Sings the Blues (1972) starring Diana Ross as the tragic jazz singer. The singer reached the apex of her career on Broadway in 1974. Handed the role of her career as matriarch Lena Younger in "Raisin," the musical stage version of Lorraine Hansberry's classic drama "Raisin in the Sun," Virginia copped the Tony Award for "lead actress" and was given the honor to perform the part later in a straight dramatic version. With this success, Virginia worked diligently in its aftermath to fight off rigid Hollywood stereotypes and, on occasion, played judges, nurses and other professional types. Just the same, she still found herself all too often typecast as poor, husband-less mothers or proud domestic help. Nevertheless, her nationwide recognition led to plentiful work on such TV dramas as "The Waltons," "Quincy," "Dynasty," "Highway to Heaven," "Murder, She Wrote," "St. Elsewhere," "Knot's Landing," "Party of Five," ER" and a recurring role on Downtown (1986), as well as the TV comedies "Mork & Mindy," "227," "The Golden Girls," "Evening Shade," "Married...with Children," and recurring roles on both The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990) and The Hughleys (1998). On the film front, Virginia had latter roles in the film The Toy (1982), Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) (as Nurse Sparrow), Howard the Duck (1986), Backfire (1987), Pacific Palisades (1990), Beethoven's 2nd (1993), Dependent (1994) and Bad City Blues (1999). Having long made her move from New York to Hollywood, Virginia went on to found in 1984 the Lafayette Players West, a performing arts repertory troupe that provided stage work for (primarily) black actors. She also received the National Black Theatre Festival Living Legend Award, the Paul Robeson Pioneer Award and the NAACP's Image Award for theatre excellence. The unmarried actress died complications from pneumonia on May 6, 2004. She was 78 and survived by a son and brother. At the time of her death, Virginia was in rehearsal for a tribute to Oscar-nominated character actress Juanita Moore.

Known For
Howard the Duck_peliplat

Howard the Duck

4.7
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The Toy_peliplat

The Toy

5.8
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Big Jake_peliplat

Big Jake

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Filmography