Margaret Avery

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Margaret Avery
Born(1944-01-20) January 20, 1944 (age 71)
Mangum, Oklahoma, U.S.
OccupationActress, singer
Years active1972–present
Spouse(s)Robert Gordyn Hunt (1973–1980)
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Margaret Avery
Born(1944-01-20) January 20, 1944 (age 71)
Mangum, Oklahoma, U.S.
OccupationActress, singer
Years active1972–present
Spouse(s)Robert Gordyn Hunt (1973–1980)

Margaret Avery (born January 20, 1944) is an American actress and singer. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance as Shug in The Color Purple (1985).[1]

Early life[edit]

Margaret Avery was born in Mangum, Oklahoma and raised in San Diego, California, where she attended Point Loma High School. She then attended San Francisco State University, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in education. While working as a substitute teacher in Los Angeles, Avery began making singing appearances and acting on the stage.


Among the plays she appeared in were Revolution, and The Sistuhs. For her performance in Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie? (1973) she received the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for "Performance In A Major Role."[2]

In the television movie Something Evil (1972), a horror story with Sandy Dennis and Darren McGavin, she was directed by Steven Spielberg. That same year, she made her theatrical motion picture debut as Lark in the MGM crime/drama Cool Breeze (1972) with Thalmus Rasulala and Judy Pace. In this blaxploitation remake of The Asphalt Jungle, Avery played the Marilyn Monroe part. The following year she played a prostitute in Magnum Force (1973), the second in the series of Dirty Harry films starring Clint Eastwood, in which her character was murdered by her pimp (played by Albert Popwell). This act of killing by pouring drain cleaner down the victim's throat was said to have inspired the notorious Hi-Fi Murders case in 1974.[3][4]

In Universal's Which Way Is Up? (1977), directed by Michael Schultz, Avery turned in a comedic performance as Annie Mae, the wife of Richard Pryor. That same year, she played Belle Joplin, wife of the ragtime composer Scott Joplin, opposite Billy Dee Williams in the title role.

Avery scored a major success with her role as the sultry and spirited blues singer, Shug Avery, in Spielberg's The Color Purple (1985) opposite Whoopi Goldberg and Danny Glover. Her performance in this screen adaptation of Alice Walker's prize-winning novel of the same title earned Avery an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

In 1992 Avery starred in The Jacksons: An American Dream as Martha Scruse, mother of Katherine Jackson, who was played by Angela Bassett. The two would later star together in Meet the Browns.

She has also made numerous TV series guest appearances, including The New Dick Van Dyke Show; Kojak; Sanford and Son; Kolchak: The Night Stalker; A.E.S. Hudson Street; Murder, She Wrote; Miami Vice; Spenser: For Hire; The Cosby Show; Walker, Texas Ranger; and JAG.

In 2008, Avery played Mama Jenkins in Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, opposite Martin Lawrence and James Earl Jones, and Sarah Brown in Tyler Perry's Meet the Browns, which also stars Angela Bassett.

Margaret Avery lives in Los Angeles, and remains active in the show business industry. While continuing to act, she also works with at-risk teenagers and battered women of Greater Los Angeles.

Personal life[edit]

She married Robert Gordon Hunt in January 1974. They were divorced in 1980 and have one daughter.[citation needed]


1972Cool BreezeLark
1972Terror HouseEdwina
1973Magnum ForceProstitute
1973Hell Up in HarlemSister Jennifer
1975Psychopath, TheThe PsychopathNurse
1977Which Way Is Up?Annie Mae
1977Scott JoplinBelle Joplin
1979Fish That Saved Pittsburgh, TheThe Fish That Saved PittsburghToby Millman
1985Color Purple, TheThe Color PurpleShug AveryNominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1989RiverbendBell Coleman
1990Return of Superfly, TheThe Return of SuperflyFrancine
1993Lightning in a BottleDr. Sierheed
1993Night TrapMiss Sadie
1994Cyborg 3: The RecyclerDoc Edford
1995Set-Up, TheThe Set-UpOlivia Dubois
1995White Man's BurdenMegan Thomas
1998Love KillsMoon
2002Waitin' to LivePearline Loggins
2002Second to DieInsurance agent
2007Lord Help UsDorinda ThomasDirect-to-video
2008Welcome Home Roscoe JenkinsMama Jenkins
2008Meet the BrownsSarah Brown
1972Something EvilIrene
1976Louis Armstrong - Chicago StyleAlma Rae
1980Sky Is Gray, TheThe Sky Is GrayRosemary
1980Lathe of Heaven, TheThe Lathe of HeavenHeather LeLache
1983For Us, the LivingDottie
1987Rags To RichesCelia Richards (Cee Cee Smith)
1989Single Women Married MenGrace Williams
1990RiverbendBell Coleman
1990Heat WaveRoxie Turpin
1992Jacksons: An American Dream, TheThe Jacksons: An American DreamMartha Scruse
1992The Cosby ShowLeah
1998Wie stark muss eine Liebe seinMary McMillianGerman TV
2012Single LadiesJosephineEpisode: "Ex Factor"
2013–presentBeing Mary JaneHelen PattersonRecurring Role


  1. ^ "Actress Gains Visibility, Respect With `Purple`". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 2010-12-04. 
  2. ^ Los Angeles Times, March 20, 1974, "27 Win Critics' Circle Honors," p. E 1.
  3. ^ Kinder, Gary (1982). Victim: The Other Side of Murder. Delacorte Press. ISBN 0385291051. 
  4. ^ Douglas, John E., and Olshaker, Mark (1999). The Anatomy of Motive: The FBI's Legendary Mindhunter Explores the Key to Understanding and Catching Violent Criminals. New York: Scribner. pp. 91–109. ISBN 978-0-684-84598-2. 

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