NOVEMBER 25, 1993


Born on August 13, 1917, in Baltimore, Maryland, Claudia’s father was African-American, her mother was Apache.  In her teens, she was adopted by a Jewish couple and became fluent in Yiddish.  At age 23, she became a singer, starting in Greenwich Village.  McNeil began acting in 1953 as a replacement on Broadway in The Crucible.  In 1957, in Simply Heavenly, she won acclaim as “Mami.”  Stage credits:  A Raisin in the Sun (1961); Tiger Tiger Burning Bright (1962); James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner (1965); Something Different (1967)–her Yiddish was instrumental; Her First Roman (1968)–with Leslie Uggams; Wrong Way Light-Bulb (1969); and Contributions (1970).  Movies included: The Last Angry Man (1959); Raisin in the Sun (1961); There Was a Crooked Man (1970), and Black Girl (1972).  TV appearances:  The DuPont Show of the Month (1957); The Nurses (1962); Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1978); and Roots: The Next Generations (1979).  She retired in 1983.  Claudia McNeil died on Nov. 25, 1993.

Source:  “A True Acting Talent, Claudia McNeil,” African American Registry.  Retrieved 8/16/2020,
Photo:  Valente or studio, 1960.  Public Domain. 

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