Emmy Winner Dies of Emphysema

Beah Richards, who received an Emmy earlier this month for her guest appearance on ABC’s The Practice and whose acting career spanned three decades in films such as Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner and Beloved has died. She was 74.

Richards returned home to Vicksburg, Miss., from Los Angeles in May. She died about 1 p.m. Thursday at her home of emphysema.

Received Oscar Nomination

The actress played everything from a loving mother on television to a bag lady on film. She received an Oscar nomination for supporting actress in Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, a 1960s drama starring Sidney Poitier, Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.

Her other film credits include In The Heat of The Night, Hurry Sundown, Drugstore Cowboy and The Great White Hope. On television, she has appeared in ER, The Bill Cosby Show and Roots: The Next Generation.

Richards was unable to pick up the Emmy for her guest appearance on The Practice was surprised when she was presented with the award at her home Sept. 1 by Lisa Gay Hamilton, one of the co-stars of the program.

“I can’t tell you what this means to me. It is truly a great accomplishment,” Richards said after receiving the award.

A versatile actress, she was nominated for a Tony Award for her Broadway performance in Amen Corner.

She won an Emmy in 1988 for a guest appearance on CBS’ Frank’s Place, and presented an ACE Award in 1987 for best actress in a movie or miniseries for her role in As Summers Die on HBO.

A Proud Family

Sheri Fisher, a niece of Richards, said the family could not have been more proud of her accomplishments.

“She was lady that the family was very proud of. She not only touched our lives, but she touched the lives of so many people in Mississippi and throughout the United States,” she said.

Richards played classy roles, Fisher said, even if it meant being out of work for long periods of time.

“Her work brought dignity to our family and she never did anything that would disgrace us,” she said.

Richards appeared in 1990 in Zora Is My Name for American Playhouse on PBS, a telecast for Black History Month. The production also starred Louis Gossett Jr. and Ruby Dee.

She has published three books—One is A Crowd, A Black Woman Speaks and A Black Woman Speaks and Other Poems.

Richards’ life is the subject of an upcoming documentary being produced by Hamilton, who said she hopes to take it to colleges around the county and would like to see it air on PBS.