Leslie Uggams made her national television debut at age six on the
TV series Beulah, portraying the niece of Ethel Waters.
Appearances on Your Show of Shows, The Milton Berle Show, Arthur
Godfrey Show, and several children's programs followed. At
age seven, Leslie began performing regularly at the Apollo Theatre in
Harlem as an extra added attraction before the performances of such
legends as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and Dinah Washington.
Leslie attended the New York Professional Children's School, and at
age fifteen she appeared on the CBS-TV series Name That Tune.
Her appearance proved to be fortuitous: Mitch Miller, head of recordings
for Columbia Records, was impressed by her vocal talents, signed her to a
recording contract and then made her a regular on Sing Along With
Mitch, TV's first pre-recorded music show.
Concurrent with her musical composition and theory studies at the
Julliard School, Ms. Uggams released the first of ten LP's she was to record
for Columbia, including her first hit single, "Morgan."
Alternating major nightclub appearances with her stage work, Leslie Uggams
appeared in the musical The Boyfriend in Berkeley,
California. Soon she won the lead in Hallelujah, Baby!,
which had originally been written for Lena Horne, and earned the 1968 Tony
Award for Best Actress In A Broadway Musical Comedy.
years later she had her own musical variety television series on CBS-TV, The
Leslie Uggams Show, and a new recording contract with Atlantic
Records, and in 1970 she made her dramatic film debut in "Skyjacked."
Her portrayal of Kizzy in the
most watched dramatic show in TV history, "Roots,"
won her the Critics Choice Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1978, and
her first Emmy nomination for Best Leading Actress. She also starred in
the miniseries Backstairs at the White House, Sizzle,
an ABC-TV Movie of the Week, and Christmas at Radio City Music Hall,
an HBO special. She won an Emmy as co-host of the NBC-TV series Fantasy.
In addition to ongoing concert dates, Leslie returned to Broadway to star
in the musical Blues in the Night; she also enjoyed a two year run in the
hit musical Jerry's Girls. In 1987, she toured with Peter Nero and Mel
Torme in The Great Gershwin Concert, for which she received
rave reviews, and in 1988 starred as Reno Sweaney, in the National Company
of the Lincoln Center Production of Anything Goes. Leslie
reprised her role in 1989/90 at the Lincoln Center's Vivien Beaumont
Theatre on Broadway. 1991 saw Leslie touring in Stringbean,
a new play with music based on Ethel Waters' rise to fame in the twenties
and thirties. Off stage, Leslie is a founding member of the BRAVO
Chapter/City of Hope-- a charitable organization dedicated to the study,
treatment, and eradication of all blood-related diseases, a board member
of the Alvin Alley Dance Theatre, and TADA, a children's musical theatre.
Among her most recent concerts are the Pittsburgh Symphony, Rhode
Island Symphony, and The Memorial Day Concert on the Washington Mall, in
front of 300,000 people, televised live by PBS.
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