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Nell Carter 1948-2003

Country : Birmingham, AL
Profession : Actor, Singer
Date of birth : 1948-09-13
Date of death : 2003-01-23
Cause of Death : Diabetes complications

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Nell Carter (September 13, 1948January 23, 2003) was an African-American singer, and film, stage, and television actress.


Early life

Born Nell Ruth Hardy to Horace and Edna Mae Hardy in Birmingham, Alabama, Carter was one of nine children. She overcame adversity and personal hardships before finding success as an actress. Her father, Horace, died in an accident with a power line. She was raped at age 16 and became pregnant from the attack, giving birth to a daughter, Tracy. Carter was a Republican and a supporter of President George W. Bush


She appeared alongside Bette Davis in the 1974 stage musical Miss Moffat, based on Davis' earlier film The Corn Is Green. The show closed before making it to Broadway.

She broke into stardom in the musical Ain't Misbehavin, for which she won a Tony Award in 1978. She also won an Emmy for the same role in a televised performance in 1982. Additional Broadway credits included Dude and Annie.

In 1979, she had a part in the Miloš Forman-directed musical film adaptation of Hair. Her vocal talents are showcased throughout the motion picture soundtrack. One of the more memorable moments in the film involves her rendition of the song "White Boys" where she can be seen dancing playfully as she performs the song.

In 1978, Carter was cast as Effie White in the Broadway musical Dreamgirls, but departed the production during development to take a television role on the ABC-TV soap opera, Ryan's Hope in New York. When Dreamgirls premiered in late 1981, Jennifer Holliday had taken over the lead. Carter also took a role on television's The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo, before landing a steady role as housekeeper Nell Harper on the sitcom Gimme a Break!, for which she earned Golden Globe and Emmy Award nominations. The popular show lasted from 1981 to 1987.

After the show began, Carter's life took a turbulent turn. She married mathematician and lumber executive George Krynicki, and converted from Catholicism to Judaism in 1982. She attempted suicide in the early 1980s, and entered a drug detoxification facility around 1985. Her brother, Bernard, died of AIDS in 1989.

Carter had three children: a daughter Tracy and two sons Daniel and Joshua. She adopted both her sons as newborns over a four month period. She attempted to adopt twice more but both adoptions fell through. In one case she brought home a child, Mary, but the birth parents demanded money before they would sign the adoption papers. In her final attempt, she allowed a young pregnant woman to move into her house with the plan to adopt the child but the mother decided to parent her child.

During this period Carter appeared in low-budget films, TV specials, and on game shows such as Match Game '90 and To Tell the Truth. She also co-starred in Hangin' with Mr. Cooper. She appeared as a special guest star on the pilot episode of the new WB show Reba and continued with the show, making a total of three appearances in season one.

In 1992, she had surgery to remove aneurysms. She divorced Krynicki and married Roger Larocque that same year. In 1993 she divorced Larocque. Carter declared bankruptcy in 1995 (and again in 2002). She also endured three miscarriages.

Appearing emotional and tearful on an episode of the Sally Jessy Raphael Show, Carter explained how she went to a Liza Minnelli concert during a turbulent time of her life. Carter told Raphael how Minnelli, seeing Carter in an agonized state, ran offstage to tell her sister, Lorna Luft, to go out and take Carter backstage so that she could get some help. Minnelli and Luft helped get Carter into rehab for her cocaine problems which she conquered.

In the mid 1990s, Carter appeared on Broadway in a revival of Annie as Miss Hannigan. She was very upset when commercials promoting the show used a different actress, Marcia Lewis, a white actress, as Miss Hannigan. The producers claimed that the commercials, which were made during an earlier production, were too costly to reshoot. Carter felt that racism played a part in the decision. "Maybe they don't want audiences to know Nell Carter is black", she told the New York Post. However, the ads did mention that Carter was in the show. "It hurts a lot", Carter told the Post, "I've asked them nicely to stop it — it's insulting to me as a black woman." Carter was later replaced by another white actress, Sally Struthers.

Carter's latest job had her rehearsing for a production of Raisin, a stage musical of A Raisin in the Sun in Long Beach, California, and filming a movie, Swing.


Having previously survived two brain aneurisms, Carter died on January 23, 2003 from heart disease complicated by diabetes, in her Beverly Hills home that she shared with her partner Ann Kaser, and her two 13-year-old boys, Joshua and Daniel. Her adult daughter Tracy lived away from the home. She is interred in the Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.


  • Swing (2003) - Grace
  • Back by Midnight (2002) - Waitress
  • Special Delivery (1999)
  • Perfect Fit (1999) - Mrs. Gordy
  • Fakin' Da Funk (1997)
  • The Proprietor (1996) - Millie Jackson
  • The Grass Harp (1995) - Catherine Creek
  • The Crazysitter (1995) - The Warden
  • Bebes Kids (1992) - Vivian
  • Maid for Each Other (1989)
  • Modern Problems (1981) - Dorita
  • Back Roads (1981) - Waitress
  • Hair (1979)

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