‘A Different World,’ ‘Fences’ star Mary Alice dies

The Tony and Emmy Award winning actress passed away this Wednesday in New York City.

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Mary Alice, whose credits include “A Different World,” “Fences” and “Sparkle,” has passed away.

The Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress  — born Mary Alice Smith in Indianola, Mississippi — is best known for her role as Leticia “Lettie” Bostic on “A Different World,” which aired on NBC from 1987 to 1993, and as Effie Williams in the original “Sparkle” film in 1976.

According to Variety, Alice passed away on Wednesday in New York City. Her birth year is unconfirmed, as it had been reported as both 1936 and 1941.

Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress Mary Alice Alice passed away on Wednesday in New York City. (Photo by Dan Watson/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images)

Alice’s Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play was in support of her performance in the 1987 Broadway production of August Wilson’s classic American play “Fences.” She won an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for “I’ll Fly Away” in 1993.

She also appeared as the Oracle in the third film of “The Matrix” trilogy, “The Matrix Revolutions,” and its accompanying video game, “Enter the Matrix.”

Like many actors, she had soap opera credits, specifically on “All My Children” as Ellie Grant Hubbard in the 80s. Other primetime TV credits include “Malcolm X,” “Beat Street,” “Down in the Delta,” “Sanford and Son” and “Police Woman.”

In this file photo, Mary Alice attends the Drama League lunch for Tony nominees. She was nominated for and would go on to win in the category of Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a play for “Fences.” (Photos were made at the Drama League lunch. (Photo by © Bettmann/CORBIS/Bettmann Archive)

Tributes to Alice began to appear on social media as the news broke of her passing. Viola Davis
—  who won an Oscar and a Tony for the same role Alice originated in “Fences” (Rose Maxson) — tweeted, “RIP Mary Alice…the original Rose Maxson. You were one of the greatest actresses of all time!! Thank you for the work, inspiration and thank you for Rose. Godspeed Queen ❤️❤️❤️❤️.”

On Twitter, Colman Domingo also shared an old headshot of Alice, writing, “A shoulder we all stood on. A round of applause for Mary Alice. Thank you legend. Rest Easy.”

Comedian and host Loni Love wrote in her own tribute, “Class, talent and grace… weather a comical or dramatic role… Mary Alice would deliver… thank you Ms. Alice now Rest in Power.”

Alice, a former elementary school teacher, was inducted into the American Theatre Hall of Fame in 2000, Variety reports. In 2005, she retired from acting.

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