Tony-, Emmy-Winning Actress Mary Alice Dies at Age 85

Tony- and Emmy-winning actress Mary Alice died in her home in New York City on July 27 at the age of 85.

A spokesperson for the New York Police Department confirmed to NPR that Alice died of natural causes.

In a career that spanned more than three decades, Alice performed on stage and on screen.

Alice pursued an acting career at an early age, starting in her hometown. After working as an elementary school teacher in Chicago for several years, she moved to New York and returned to acting in the 1960s.

Alice joined a community theater group and worked her way up to stage productions in Manhattan’s East Village from the late 1960s to the early 1970s.

In 1979, Alice won an Obie Award for her performance as Portia in Joseph Papp’s off-Broadway production of “Julius Caesar.”

In 1987, Alice won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her role as Rose Maxson in the 1987 play “Fences.”

In 1993, Alice won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for playing Marguerite Peck in the Atlanta-set NBC legal drama “I’ll Fly Away.”

Alice is also known for her roles as Leticia “Lettie” Bostic on NBC’s “A Different World” and as Effie Williams in the 1976 musical drama “Sparkle.”

Alice retired from acting in 2005.

Actress Viola Davis, who played Rose in the movie version of “Fences,” called Alice “one of the greatest actresses of all time.”

“Thank you for the work, inspiration, and thank you for Rose,” Davis said on Twitter.

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