Olivia Carlena Cole (November 26, 1942 – January 19, 2018) was an American actress.
Cole was born in Memphis, Tennessee, the daughter of Arvelia (née Cage), a tennis player and instructor and William Calvin Cole, a worker for Grumman. After graduating from Manhattan’s Hunter College High School in 1960, she studied drama at Bard College in New York and earned a scholarship to attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, where she graduated with honors in 1964. After returning to the United States, she earned a master’s degree in theater arts with minor in Scandinavian studies in 1967 from the University of Minnesota. She made her screen debut in the daytime soap opera Guiding Light in 1969 and later appeared in over 30 shows and films.
She was also known for her role as Maggie Rogers in the 1979 miniseries Backstairs at the White House, for which she was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie. Cole became the very first African American actress to win an Emmy award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Television Movie, for her performance as 'Mathilda' in Roots.
Cole starred in the CBS sitcoms Szysznyk from 1977-78, and Report to Murphy in 1982. She also was cast in the short-lived ABC drama series Brewster Place with Oprah Winfrey in 1990, and previously appeared in another miniseries North and South, Book I (1985). She also guest-starred on Police Woman, Family, L.A. Law, "Christy" and Murder, She Wrote.
She was an honorary member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. In film, she appeared in Heroes (1977), Coming Home (1978), Some Kind of Hero (1982), Go Tell It on the Mountain (1984), Big Shots (1987), more recently in First Sunday (2008), as well as in the television movies Something About Amelia (1984) and The Women of Brewster Place (1989).
In June 1971, she married actor Richard Venture, one of the few to enter an interracial marriage in Hollywood, at that time. They would later divorce in 1984. She retired in 1995, but later returned to acting.
Cole died at the age of 75 at her home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico on January 19, 2018, after a heart attack.
|1969-1971||Guiding Light||Deborah Mehraen||television debut
series regular; unknown episodes
|1975-1976||Police Woman||Head Nurse/Dr. Dorothy Bailey/Dr. Georgia Kimberly||3 episodes|
|1977||Roots||Mathilda Moore||TV Miniseries
|1977||Rafferty||Sara Ridley||Episode: "Brothers & Sons"|
|1977||Heroes||Jane Adcox||film debut|
|1977-1978||Szysznyk||Mr. Harrison||series regular; 15 episodes|
|1978||Family||Frances Rossmore||Episode: "Fear of Shadows"|
|1979||Insight||Karen Clay||Episode: "When, Jenny? When?"|
|1979||Backstairs at the White House||Maggie Rogers||TV Miniseries
|1979||The Lazarus Syndrome||Pamela Quinn||Episode: "A Brutal Assault"|
|1980||Children of Divorce||Betty Williams||Television Movie|
|1980||The Sky Is Gray||Olivia||Television Movie|
|1981||Fly Home||Sarah Brookford||Television Movie|
|1981||Mistress of Paradise||Victorine||Television Movie|
|1982||Some Kind of Hero||Jesse|
|1982||Report to Murphy||Blanche||6 episodes|
|1984||Go Tell It on the Mountain||Elizabeth|
|1984||Something About Amelia||Ruth Walters|
|1985||American Playhouse||Elizabeth||Episode: "Go Tell It on the Mountain"|
|1985||North and South, Book I||Maum Sally||TV Miniseries
|1985-1995||Murder, She Wrote||Yvette Dauphin/Melinda Coop/Callie Coleman||3 episodes|
|1987||Big Shots||Mrs. Newton|
|1987||The Fig Tree||Television Movie|
|1989||The Women of Brewster Place||Miss Sophie||2 episodes|
|1989-1993||L.A. Law||Judge Julie McFarlane||3 episodes|
|1990||Brewster Place||Miss Sophie||series regular; 11 episodes|
|1993||Arly Hanks||Estelle||Television Movie|
|1995||Christy||Esther Scott||Episode: "Echoes"|
|2008||First Sunday||Momma T|
|2011||Be Good, Be Nice||Young Girl||Short Film|