‘A Different World’ & ‘Sparkle’ Star Mary Alice Dies

Mary Alice
Sony Pictures Classics/courtesy Everett Collection

Emmy-winning actress Mary Alice, best known for A Different World and I’ll Fly Away has died.

No cause of death has been revealed at this time but was reportedly confirmed by the NYPD. It’s unclear what Alice’s age actually is as conflicting reports claim she was born in 1936 and 1941, making her somewhere between 84 and 80 years old.

Best known for playing Leticia “Lettie” Bostic on NBC‘s A Different World, Alice made her mark in several TV titles. In 1993 she won an Emmy for her performance as Marguerite Peck in I’ll Fly Away which also aired on NBC.

Sparkle, Mary Alice and Beatrice Winde

Mary Alice with Beatrice Winde in Sparkle (Credit: Everett Collection)

Over the years Alice appeared in several shows including Cosby, American Playhouse, The Women of Brewster Place, Good Times, Sanford and Son, The Doctors, Oz, and many more. And Alice delivered an unforgettable performance as Effie Williams in the 1976 musical drama Sparkle which was later rebooted with Jordin Sparks and Whitney Houston in 2012.

Among Alice’s other film roles were parts in The Matrix Revolutions, Malcolm X, Sunshine State, Awakenings, Teachers, The Photographer, and more. Alice’s last onscreen role was in 2005’s Kojak which starred Ving Rhames, Michael Kelly, Roselyn Sanchez, and Chazz Palminteri among others.

Born in Indianola, Mississippi, Mary Alice taught as an elementary school teacher before breaking onto the scene with roles in films like The Education of Sonny Carson among other projects. In 2005, she decided to retire from acting, but her legacy carries on with the great roles she played along the way.