Leslie Uggams Biography

Leslie Uggams
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Quick Facts

Birthday: May 25, 1943

Nationality: American

Age: 77 Years, 77 Year Old Females

Sun Sign: Gemini

Also Known As: Leslie Marian Uggams

Born Country: United States

Born in: Harlem, New York, United States

Famous as: Actress

Actresses Pop Singers

Height: 5'5" (165 cm), 5'5" Females


Spouse/Ex-: Grahame Pratt (m. 1965)

father: Harold Uggams

mother: Juanita Uggams

children: Danielle Chambers, Justice Pratt

City: New York City

U.S. State: New Yorkers, African-American From New Yorkers

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education: The Juilliard School

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Who is Leslie Uggams?

Leslie Uggams is an iconic African-American actress and singer. Her rise to fame in the USA came at a time when racial segregation was a major factor. She paved the way for many future African-American actors and performers. Starting as a child actress in the TV series ‘Beulah’ she went on to have a stellar acting career in movies, TV, and on stage. Some of Leslie Uggams’ best-known movies are ‘Two Weeks in Another Town’, ‘Skyjacked’, ‘Poor Pretty Eddie’, and ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’. Uggams is also remembered for her portrayal of Kizzy Reynolds in the series ‘Roots’ and that of Lilian Roger Parks in ‘Backstairs at the White House’. She has also rejuvenated her acting career by playing Blind Al in the ‘Deadpool’ movie franchise and Leah Walker in the ‘Empire’ series. On stage, she is known for her performances in ‘Hallelujah, Baby!’, ‘Blue in the Night’, ‘Jerry’s Girls’, and ‘On Golden Pond’ to name a few. Additionally, her discography includes albums like ‘Leslie Uggams: On My Way To You: Songs of Alan and Marilyn Bergman’, ‘Leslie on TV’, and ‘Painted Memories’ etc.
Childhood & Early Life
Leslie Marian Uggams was born on May 25, 1943, in Harlem, New York City, USA, to Harold Coyden Uggams and Juanita Ernestine.
She completed her schooling from the New York Professional Children’s School. Later she attended the prestigious Juilliard School.
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Leslie Uggams made her acting debut at the tender age of six portraying Ethel Water’s niece on the sitcom ‘Beulah’ (1951). She then performed 28 shows each week at the prestigious Apollo Theatre in Harlem. She was only six years old then.
She soon made her singing debut in ‘The Lawrence Welk Show’ (1951). In 1958, she became a household name after winning US $12,500 in the musical game show ‘Name That Tune’.
In 1955, Leslie Uggams released her record ‘Meet My Friend, Mr. Sun’. A multi-record deal with ‘Columbia Records’ followed. She produced 14 records with them. These included, ‘One More Sunrise’ (1959), ‘The Carefree Years’ (1960), ‘And I Love Her’ (1964), and ‘Hallelujah, Baby!’ (1967).
Simultaneously, in 1964, she enthralled audiences with her vocal skills on TV. This was in shows like ‘Sing Along with Mitch’ (1961 – 1964), ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ (1964 – 1969), and ‘The Dean Martin Show’ (1965 – 1972).
Uggams’ second major music deal was with ‘Atlantic Records’. This resulted in top-rated records like ‘A House Built on Sand’ (1967), ‘River Deep, Mountain High’ (1968), and ‘Walk Him Up The Stairs’ (1970) etc.
Leslie Uggams made her Broadway debut in 1967, in ‘Hallelujah, Baby’. She continued to captivate audiences on Broadway in ‘Her First Roman’ (1968), ‘Blues in the Night’ (1982), ‘Jerry’s Girls’ (1985), and ‘Anything Goes’ (1987).
After her movie debut in ‘Two Weeks in Another Town’ (1962), she appeared in TV shows like ‘The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.’ (1966) and ‘That’s (1968 – 1969). In 1969, she hosted the first-ever African-American woman hosted series ‘The Leslie Uggams Show’.
In 1972, she starred in two of her critically acclaimed movies, ‘Skyjacked’ and ‘Black Girl’. In 1977, she played the now-iconic role of Kizzy Reynolds Moore in the TV series ‘Roots’. She followed that up with ‘Backstairs at the White House’ (1979). Uggams earned an ‘Emmy’ nomination for her portrayal of the real-life Lillian Rogers.
Leslie Uggams excelled in her 1983 ‘Daytime Emmy’ winning role of the host of the family-game show ‘Fantasy’ (1982 – 1983). She also made her mark in shows like ‘The Love Boat’ (1981 – 1987) and ‘All My Children’ (1996). Her only movie during the time, ‘Sugar Hill’ (1993) failed at the box-office.
In 2001, Leslie Uggams returned to Broadway and gave a ‘Tony Award’ nominated performance in ‘King Hedley II’. She appeared on Broadway twice again in ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’ (2002) and ‘On Golden Pond’ (2005).
Besides Broadway, Uggams has also delivered several critically acclaimed performances on stage in ‘On Golden Pond’ (2005), ‘The First Breeze of Summer’ (2008), and ‘Gypsy’ (2014), etc.
Her recent notable appearances have been in the movies ‘Deadpool’ (2016) and ‘Deadpool 2’ (2018). Her performances as Vivian in ‘Nurse Jackie’ (2015) and as series-regular Leah Walker in ‘Empire’ (2018 – present) have received critical acclaim.
Major Works
Leslie Uggams’ most notable role was in the TV series ‘Roots’. Her heartbreaking portrayal of Kizzy Reynolds, in the America slave-drama, opened everyone’s eyes to the horrors of human slavery. It also won her a ‘Primetime Emmy’ award nomination in 1977.
Leslie has made herself pop-culture favorite with her portrayal of the sidekick Blind Al in ‘Deadpool’ (2016) and ‘Deadpool’ (2018). The two superhero movies are the highest-grossing movies of her career, having garnered more than US $780 million each.
Family & Personal Life
Leslie Uggams met and fell in love with Grahame Pratt while on a tour in Australia. She married him on October 16, 1965. The inter-racial couple then moved to New York to avoid being persecuted by the USA’s racial segregation laws.
The still happily married couple has two children, daughter Danielle Chambers (born April 11, 1970) and son Justice Pratt (born July 28, 1975).
Uggams is also a founding member of ‘BRAVO Chapter/City of Hope’. In 2015, she was honored with a ‘Doctor of Fine Arts degree’ from the ‘University of Connecticut’.

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