Leslie Uggams has had a fascinating career as a stage and film actor.
The Harlem-born singer and actress is best known for her role in the Deadpool franchise, although she has had a long and successful career.
Yet, her life may be the subject of a film after she married White Australian man Grahame Pratt in 1965, since their love affair defied all chances of interracial love…
Leslie was a fantastic singer who recorded a song for MGM at the age of ten in 1953. Her aunt, soprano Eloise Uggams, urged her to attend New York’s Professional Children’s School and the prestigious Julliard School of Music.
Her musical triumph, however, was only the beginning of her adventure; by 1969, she had her own TV variety show, “The Leslie Uggams Show,” which was the first network variety show hosted by a black person since “The Nat King Cole Show.”
Nevertheless, behind the scenes, she met and fell in love with actor Grahame Pratt. The couple met at Professional Children’s School in New York, where they were both students, then fell into one other again in Sydney during one of Leslie’s celebrity tours in Australia.
Leslie had experienced the effects of dating a white man during her adolescence, and her aunt had cautioned her not to consider a future with him.
Leslie told Ebony in 1967, “I recall the shock I felt once when I was dating a white boy.”
“He sent me a colour snapshot of himself via email.” My aunt was shown it. He was a charming young man with beautiful hair. He was gorgeous in my opinion. My aunt, on the other hand, took one look at me and began lecturing me. ‘Oh, I think he’s okay, but only for dates, eh, honey?’ she remarked. Will you marry a fine [Black] fella when you’re ready to settle down for good?'”
Leslie reported that she continued to visit Grahame following their chance meeting.
“Despite the fact that I was just 21, I found myself falling for him.”
She wouldn’t see him again for a year after leaving Australia.
Despite Leslie’s concerns about her family’s reaction and what it would mean for them if Grahame had to relocate to the United States for Leslie’s profession, the two had fallen in love. Grahame paid her a visit in New York after they’d been engaged for five months.
“Given my family’s attitudes about mixed marriages, I wanted to see if they would actually accept Grahame rather than just tolerate him,” she explained.
Leslie, on the other hand, had no need to be concerned because Grahame was an Australian.
“He lacked the self-consciousness that many white People have about their predicament.” He fit well in with my friends…because he liked them. And both the men and the women liked him.”
Although they did not confront the same racial issues as the rest of the country while residing in New York, Leslie said she got hate mail as a result of their marriage.
In an interview with PEOPLE, Leslie said of her marriage, “It wasn’t as difficult as I expected.” “I suppose it was because Grahame was not a white American man.” So, of course, we got mail.
“When I go on tour in the US, I occasionally get anonymous notes about being married to a white man,” Leslie explained. “I remember getting one in, of all places, Detroit.” The letter was addressed to ‘The Little Negro Entertainer’ and was delivered to the club. They are frequently discussed in this manner and are not enjoyable to read.”
Leslie’s manager was Grahame, and the pair had two daughters, Danielle in 1970 and Justice in 1976.
Leslie had landed the lead role in the miniseries “Roots” one year after the birth of their second child, for which she garnered an Emmy nomination for her performance as Kizzy.
She won an Emmy nomination for Best Actress for her role as Lillian Rogers Parks in “Backstairs at the White House” two years later.
She received a Daytime Emmy Award in 1983 as the host of the NBC game show “Fantasy” for her role as Rose Keefer on “All My Children.”
She has appeared in shows such as “Family Guy,” “I Spy,” “Hollywood Squares,” “The Muppet Show,” “The Love Boat,” and “Magnum P.I.” as herself.
Leslie and Grahame have been married for 55 years and have two children and a granddaughter named Cassidy.
“We laugh all the time — but it’s not all roses,” Leslie remarked of her and her husband’s joyful marriage. We have a lot of fun together.”
This couple’s love has defied all odds and has stood the test of time. They are loyal to one another and have always supported one another; they are an inspiration.
Please forward this lovely love story to your friends and family so they can read it as well.