Slender, attractive actress Margaret Avery, spellbinding in her role ofShug in 'Steven Spielberg' 's The Color Purple (1985) , iscertainly no "one-hit wonder". Although filmgoers may be able to traceher back only to that once-in-a-lifetime part, Margaret has been atalented player on the large and small screens for well over threedecades. Born on January 20, 1944, in Mangum, Oklahoma, this daughter of a Navyman was raised in San Diego, California, where she completed highschool in the mid-60s. She demonstrated a certain passion for actingwhile in her teens but decided to pursue a more stable career inteaching.
Graduating from San Francisco State University, she joinedthe Los Angeles public school system as a substitute teacher, but the"acting bug" continued to nibble away at her. Margaret auditioned for commercials on the sly and managed to alsosegued into stage work and singing jobs. Among her early 1970s L. A. plays were "Revolution", "Sistuhs" and 1973's "Does a Tiger Wear aNecktie?", the last for which she nabbed the Los Angeles Drama CriticsAward.
Margaret's sharp skills as an actress helped her to move into TV roles,appearing in such established 1970s and 1980s series as "The New Dick Van Dyke Show" (1971) , "Kojak" (1973) , "Sanford and Son" (1972) , "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" (1974) , "The Rookies" (1972) , "Baby, I'm Back" (1977) , "Murder, She Wrote" (1984) , "Miami Vice" (1984) , "Spenser: For Hire" (1985) , a recurring part in "Harry O" (1973) and a regular role in the short-lived series "A. E. S. Hudson Street" (1977) . An entrancing, high-cheek-boned beauty, Margaret's film career ignitedduring the popular "blaxploitation" era.
She somehow managed to avoidthe pitfalls of many a black actress of that time, however, despite hersexy and revealing roles in her first two films, Cool Breeze (1972) starring 'Thalmus Rasulala' and'Lincoln Kilpatrick' , and Hell Up in Harlem (1973) , inwhich she found herself in the clutches of brawny former footballer'Fred Williamson' . Margaret carried on with Magnum Force (1973) (as a hooker) and the comedies Which Way Is Up? (1977) and The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh (1979) , thereby establishingherself as a solid, reliable actress. Music was never far away from Margaret as attest to her strong roles in Louis Armstrong - Chicago Style (1976) (TV) , starring'Ben Vereen' as "Satchmo", and Scott Joplin (1977) (TV) ,which showcased 'Billy Dee Williams' as the ragtime great oppositeher Belle Joplin. However, it was her riveting supporting turn as thedrug-riddled, fly-by-night singer Shug Avery in The Color Purple (1985) that truly put Margaret on the map. Stories have long circulated that Spielberg wanted a star singer in therole and that Margaret received the role only after both'Patti LaBelle' and 'Tina Turner (I)' were approached andturned it down.
Fortunately for Margaret (and filmgoers), she hadpreviously worked with Spielberg in her first TV movie Something Evil (1972) (TV) . He remembered her from this and casther. Receiving an Academy Award nomination for "Best Supporting Actress," itwas expected that her career would hit major cinematic heights. Unfortunately, Margaret didn't make another film for three years, whenshe played a jazz singer in the little-seen Blueberry Hill (1988) with 'Carrie Snodgress' . Since thenMargaret has been productive but has flown well under the radar ofmainstream Hollywood since her "Color Purple" heyday.
On TV she continued to grace episodes of "Amen" (1986) , "The Cosby Show" (1984) , "Roc" (1991) , "MacGyver"(1986) , "JAG" (1989) and "Bones" (2005) , enhanced suchcommendable made-for-TV movies as Heat Wave (1990) (TV) with'Cicely Tyson' and 'James Earl Jones' , and has been seensporadically in films. She co-starred in The Return of Superfly (1990) --a nod to her old blaxploitationdays-- Lightning in a Bottle (1993) , White Man's Burden (1995) with 'John Travolta (I)' , the'Mario Van Peebles' feature Love Kills (1998) , Waitin' to Live (2006) , directed by Travolta's brother'Joey Travolta (I)' and has completed roles in Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins (2008) and Meet the Browns (2008) with 'Martin Lawrence (I)' and'Angela Bassett', respectively. Divorced from director 'Robert Gordon Hunt', Margaret has one daughter,Aisha. In retrospect, one cannot help feel that this extremely capableand captivating actress has been shortchanged by Hollywood, but the sunhas not set as of yet on the career of this remarkable lady. Margaretcurrently Co-Stars alongside Gabrielle Union and Richard Roundtree onBET's #1 Hit Drama 'Being Mary Jane' as Matriarch and Lupus VictimHelen Patterson.
One is anxiously awaiting another film role for Margaret Avery on thelevel of "Color Purple. " It's certainly long overdue. .
|1||A Collaboration of Spirits: Casting and Acting The Color Purple||2003||as Herself|
|2||Single Women Married Men||1989||as Grace Williams|
|3||The Color Purple: The Musical||2003||as Herself|
|4||10-8: Officers on Duty||2003||as Rita Armstrong|
|5||The Arsenio Hall Show||2013||as Herself - Guest|
|6||The New Dick Van Dyke Show||1971||as Pam Harris/Nurse Wilkinson|
|7||An Eye for an Eye||1973||as Nurse|
|8||BET Awards 2006||2006||as Herself|
|9||BET Awards 2013||2013||as Herself|
|10||BET Awards 2014||2014||as Herself|
|11||Blueberry Hill||1988||as Hattie Cale|
|12||Cool Breeze||1972||as Lark|
|13||Cyborg 3: The Recycler||1994||as Doc Edford|
|15||Heat Wave||1990||as Roxie Turpin|
|16||Hell Up in Harlem||1973||as Sister Jennifer|
|17||Lightning in a Bottle||1993||as Dr. Sierheed|
|18||Lord Help Us||2007||as Dorinda Thomas|
|19||Louis Armstrong - Chicago Style||1976||as Alma Rae|
|20||Love Kills||1998||as Moon|
|21||Magnum Force||1973||as Prostitute|
|22||Meet the Browns||2008||as Sarah|
|23||Night Trap||1993||as Miss Sadie|
|24||Riverbend||1989||as Bell Coleman|
|25||Scott Joplin||1977||as Belle Joplin|
|26||Second to Die||2002||as Insurance Agent|
|27||Something Evil||1972||as Irene|
|28||Terror House||1972||as Edwina|
|29||The 58th Annual Academy Awards||1986||as Herself - Nominee: Best Actress in a Supporting Role|
|30||The Black Movie Awards||2005||as Herself|
|31||The Color Purple||1985||as Shug Avery|
|32||The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh||1979||as Toby Millman|
|33||The Jacksons: An American Dream||1992||as Martha Scruse|
|34||The Lathe of Heaven||1980||as Heather LeLache|
|35||The Return of Superfly||1990||as Francine|
|36||The Roots of Roe||1993||as Letters to Margaret Sanger|
|37||The Set Up||1995||as Olivia Dubois|
|38||The Sky Is Gray||1980||as Rosemary|
|39||Waitin to Live||2006||as Pearline Loggins|
|40||Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins||2008||as Mama Jenkins|