Tony and Emmy Award-winning star of stage and screen Leslie Uggams (Hallelujah, Baby! and The Leslie Uggams Show) has joined the ranks of Emmy TV Legend as a recent interviewee of the Archive of American Television. In honor of the 40th anniversary of the original airing of Alex Haley’s ROOTS in which she so memorably portrayed Kizzy Kinte, Uggams traces her career as a child star during the early days of television to her current roles in the blockbuster hits DEADPOOL and EMPIRE.
In Part 1 of the two-hour video interview, Uggams discusses her early 1950s and 1960s appearances on The Paul Whiteman TV Teen Club, Name That Tune, and Sing Along with Mitch.
A great video of “If He Walked Into My Life” from 1966:
Later she became the first American-American woman to host her own TV variety series The Leslie Uggams Show in 1969. In 1977 she made history again as part of the ground-breaking cast of ROOTS.
Part 2 of the Emmy TV Legends interview brings us from the 1980s through present day, featuring insights into her many variety show appearances singing alongside other entertainment legends such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and another Harlemite Sammy Davis, Jr. Uggams also discusses her Emmy Award-winning role as host of the game show Fantasy co-starring Peter Marshall. The interview ends with thoughts on her recent return to dramatic acting in the television shows The Good Wife, Nurse Jackie, and EMPIRE and as irascible Marvel Comic sidekick Blind Al in the record-breaking box office smash hit movie DEADPOOL starring Ryan Reynolds.
Uggams recently completed filming 20th Century Fox’s DEADPOOL 2, set for theatrical release in June of 2018. She also returns for Season 4 of EMPIRE when the hit FOX TV series debuts in a new time slot on Wednesday, September 27, 8/7c. Uggams continues as the mercurial Leah Walker, the dangerous mother of Lucious Lyon played by Terrence Howard.
Uggams is a Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress and singer whose career has brought her from Harlem (Uptown) to Broadway (Downtown), the big screen (Skyjacked) to television (The Leslie Uggams Show). Perhaps best known for her stirring portrayal of Kizzy in the landmark TV mini-series Alex Haley’s Roots (Critics Choice Award, Emmy and Golden Globe nominations), she also starred in the mini-series Backstairs at the White House and Sizzle. Uggams has performed to critical and popular acclaim ever since her first professional appearances at the Apollo Theater at the age of nine, opening for such musical legends as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington. She was recently honored with the American Artist Award in a gala ceremony held at Arena Stage in Washington, DC.
On Broadway Uggams made her stunning musical theater debut starring in Hallelujah, Baby! earning both Tony and Theater World awards. Since then she has starred on Broadway in Jerry’s Girls, Anything Goes at the Lincoln Center Theatre (also the first national tour), King Headley II with Brian Stokes Mitchell(Tony Award nomination), Thoroughly Modern Millie, and most recently On Golden Pond opposite James Earl Jones. Off-Broadway Uggams has won Audelco Awards for several highly praised star turns including The Old Settler, Keb Mo’s blues musical Thunder Knocking on the Door, and most recently First Breeze of Summer at the acclaimed Signature Theater. Regional roles include A Little Night Music at Michigan Opera Theatre, The Rink at the Cape Playhouse, Hello, Dolly! at Houston’s Theater Under the Stars, and Master Class at TheaterFest in New Jersey.
Photo credit: via blackkudos