Birthday: July 12, 1944
Age: 76 Years, 76 Year Old Females
Sun Sign: Cancer
Also Known As: Donna Denise Nicholas
Born Country: United States
Born in: Detroit, Michigan, United States
Famous as: Actress
Height: 5'6" (168 cm), 5'6" Females
Spouse/Ex-: Bill Withers (m. 1973–1974), Gilbert Moses (m. 1964–1965), Jim Hill (m. 1981–1984)
father: Otto Nicholas
mother: Louise Carolyn Burgen
siblings: Michele Nicholas, Otto Nicholas
City: Detroit, Michigan
U.S. State: Michigan
Notable Alumni: Tulane University
education: Milan High School, University of Michigan, University of Southern California, Tulane University
Denise Nicholas is an American actor and writer. She is a social activist, too, and was involved with the ‘Civil Rights Movement.’ Nicholas made her debut in acting by taking part in a Spanish play, while still in university. Later, she joined the ‘Free Southern Theater,’ which was aimed at providing the live theater experience to rural African–American audiences. She was a prominent member of the ‘Negro Ensemble Company.’ Nicholas started her TV career with the series ‘It Takes a Thief.’ However, it was the role of ‘Liz McIntyre’ in the series ‘Room 222’ that helped her gain stardom. Her convincing performance in this series won Nicholas ‘Golden Globe’ nominations. She bagged roles in movies such as ‘Let’s Do It Again’ and ‘A Piece of the Action.’ She was part of several TV series, such as ‘The Love Boat,’ ‘Diff’rent Strokes,’ and ‘Aloha Paradise.’ Nicholas played a major role in the drama series ‘In the Heat of the Night.’ She wrote a few episodes for this series. This marked the beginning of her career as a writer. Denise Nicholas enrolled for professional writing programs and worked with author Janet Fitch for a short period of time. Later, Nicholas published her first novel, ‘Freshwater Roads.’ She is not presently active in the entertainment industry.
Childhood & Early Life
Donna Denise Nicholas was born on July 12, 1944, in Detroit, Michigan, US, to Louise Carolyn and Otto Nicholas. Her parents divorced when she was young. Following this, her mother married Robert Burgen. Soon, Nicholas moved to Milan, Michigan. She has an elder brother named Otto and a younger sister named Michele.
In 1961, Nicholas graduated from ‘Milan High School.’ She attended the ‘University of Michigan,’ where she studied law. Later, she joined the ‘Tulane University’ and majored in fine arts. Nicholas made her acting debut with a Spanish language play, while still in university.
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During the ‘Civil Rights Movement,’ Nicholas discontinued her studies and joined the ‘Free Southern Theater.’ The aim of this theater was to entertain rural African–Americans. It was headed by Gilbert Moses. Nicholas married Moses and toured with the theater. After a year, she divorced Moses and moved to New York City.
In 1967, Nicholas joined the ‘Negro Ensemble Company.’ She acted in several plays with them, some of which were ‘Summer of the Seventeenth Doll,’ ‘Kongi’s Harvest,’ and ‘Daddy Goodness.’
In 1968, Nicholas made her TV debut, with an episode of the series ‘It Takes a Thief.’ In 1972, she performed in her debut movie, ‘Blacula.’ It was a “blaxploitation” horror film, and Nicolas played a major character, ‘Michelle Williams.’
In 1969, Nicholas was cast in the role that brought her stardom. She was chosen to portray ‘Liz McIntyre’ in the TV series ‘Room 222.’ It was a comedy–drama series aired on ‘ABC.’ The show focused on the events at a fictional school that was racially diverse. ‘Liz’ was seen as a compassionate guidance counselor. Nicholas delivered an excellent performance. The series helped her earn three consecutive ‘Golden Globe’ nominations, for the ‘Best Actress in a Drama TV Series.’
In 1975, Nicholas performed as ‘Beth Foster’ in the action–comedy movie ‘Let’s Do It Again. Her performance in this movie fetched Nicholas an ‘Image Award.’ She was chosen as ‘Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture,
In 1977, Nicholas performed as the lead character, ‘Olivia Ellis,’ in the sitcom, ‘Baby… I’m Back.’ In the 1980s, she performed in series such as ‘The Love Boat,’ ‘Benson,’ and ‘Diff’rent Strokes.’ She was also seen in movies such as ‘Marvin & Tige,’ ‘Over Here, Mr. President,’ and ‘Mother’s Day.’ In 1990, she performed as ‘Joan’ in the movie ‘Ghost Dad.’ The movie featured Nicholas alongside Bill Cosby.
From 1989 to 1995, Nicholas starred in several episodes of the drama series ‘In the Heat of the Night.’ Nicholas also wrote six episodes of the series. This was the beginning of her career as a writer. When the show was canceled, Nicholas joined the ‘Professional Writing Program’ at the ‘University of Sothern California.’
Nicholas attended the ‘Journeymen’s Writing Workshop’ and was under the guidance of famed author Janet Fitch. She worked with Fitch for 5 years. Nicholas attended the ‘Squaw Valley Community of Writers Workshop,’ too.
In 2005, Nicholas published her first novel, ‘Freshwater Road.’ This was a story written against the backdrop of the ‘Civil Rights Movement.’ It was selected as one of the best books of 2005 by several publications, such as ‘The Washington Post,’ ‘The Detroit Free Press,’ and ‘The Atlanta Journal Constitution.’ In 2006, the novel won the ‘Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Award’ for debut fiction. It also won the ‘American Library Association’s Black Caucus Award.’
Family & Personal Life
Denise Nicholas has been married thrice. In 1964, she married Gilbert Moses, the founder of the ‘Free Southern Theater.’ In 1965, the couple divorced. They have no children.
In 1973, Nicholas married singer and songwriter Bill Withers. The couple had a troubled relationship from the beginning, and after a year, they divorced. In 1981, Nicholas married football player Jim Hill. They divorced in 1984.