Documentary on actress Richards, city native, wins Peabody|[4/09/05]

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 11, 2005

Her final award followed noted actress Beah Richards when she returned to her home in Vicksburg and now an award for a documentary on her life has come after her death.

Richards, also a poet and teacher, grew up in Vicksburg but left for California to make her way in the entertainment business. From her Oscar nomination for best supporting actress in “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” with Spencer Tracy, Kathrine Hepburn and Sidney Poitier, Richards won many awards, including an Emmy for her appearance in the television drama “The Practice.” The Emmy was presented in Vicksburg after Richards, in failing health, came home to live with niece Sherry Fisher. She died shortly after receiving the award from actress and co-star Lisa Gay Hamilton.

On May 16, the documentary detailing Richards’ life will be presented with a George Foster Peabody Award. The film, “Beah: A Black Woman Speaks” was produced by Clinica Estetico and LisaGay Inc., in association with HBO.

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The Peabody citation says it is, “A loving biographical tribute to Beah Richards, this HBO/Cinemax Documentary Film … gives us remarkable insight into her life as an actress, poet and teacher. Through her determined life as artist and activist, we explore key issues in the social history of our time.”

The documentary had an early screening at the Vicksburg Convention Center before an audience of about 150 people, many of whom knew Richards since she was a student at Magnolia Avenue High School.

At that screening, Teresa Prince Williams said she and other former classmates always knew Richards was would be a star.

In addition to her acting career, Richards is the author of three books: “One Is A Crowd,” “A Black Woman Speaks” and “A Black Woman Speaks and Other Poems.”

The Peabody Awards are named after George Foster Peabody, a native of Georgia and an industrialist, financier and contributor to the University of Georgia. The awards honor distinguished achievement and meritorious service by radio and television networks, stations, producing organizations, cable television organizations and individuals. The first Peabodys were presented in 1941 for radio programs broadcast in 1940.

The awards are administered by the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Georgia.

This year’s award ceremony will be at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York.