SOUTH AFRICA'S TV WEBSITE
SIGN IN SEARCH MENU
SOUTH AFRICA'S TV WEBSITE


Nell Carter

Full / Real Name: Nell Ruth Hardy
Born: 13 September 1948 (73 years old)
Gender: Female

Rate:

8.0

Add to Actor Favourites

Bio

Nell Carter (13 September, 1948 – 23 January, 2003) was an American singer and actress best known for her starring role as Nellie Ruth Nell Harper on the television sitcom Gimme a Break!, from 1981-1987, earning two Emmy and two Golden Globe nominations for her work on the series.

She was also known for her starring role as Pamela Jane P.J. Moore on the sitcom Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, from 1993-1995.

She was born Nell Ruth Hardy in 1948 in Birmingham, Alabama and raised there, one of nine children born to Horace and Edna Hardy.

She grew up listening to the sounds of Dinah Washington and Elvis Presley and developed an early interest in singing that led to performances in various youth groups, her church choir, on local radio and even the gospel circuit.

This was a positive distraction from the major traumas suffered during her early life which included the tragic death of her father, who was electrocuted when he accidentally stepped on a live power line, and a rape at gunpoint when she was a young teenager.

By age 19, Nell had relocated to New York where she found work singing in assorted niteries (Rainbow Room, Sweeney's), cafés, and musical revues to her liking.

Studying at Bill Russell's School of Drama from 1970 to 1973, she made her Broadway debut in Soon, a two-act musical show that lasted two days and included such up-and-comers as Richard Gere, Peter Allen and Barry Bostwick.

Other musical roles came with Dude (1972), Be Kind to People Week (1975) and Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope (1976).

Receiving further training in London, Nell, who continued to gain both in girth and talent, made a star-making leap when she was cast alongside Armelia McQueen, Charlayne Woodard, André De Shields and Ken Page in the 1978 ensemble revue, Ain't Misbehavin', a musical catalogue of Fats Waller songs.

The stellar quintet ran for nearly four years and the scene-stealing Carter, with such show-stopping songs as Mean to Me and Cash for Your Trash, received a multitude of awards, including the Theatre World, Drama Desk, Obie and Tony.

The show was taped for TV in 1982 for which Carter also nabbed the Emmy, and a Broadway revival with all five performers reunited was restaged in 1988. Later musical vehicles included her own feisty version of Dolly Levi in a 1991 African-American revival.

Tough and temperamental with a larger-than-life presence, Carter was invariably drawn toward the small screen and was initially featured in the daytime soap Ryan's Hope (1975) and The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo (1979), the latter perfectly cast as a police sergeant.

Audiences took to her immediately and, eventually, she was handed her own vehicle as the loving but no-nonsense housekeeper of a white family in the NBC sitcom Gimme a Break!. That show, which ran for six seasons, earned her two additional Emmy nominations for Best Actress in a Comedy.

Following this, she co-starred on You Take the Kids (1990), which fizzled, and the already established Hangin' with Mr. Cooper as Mark Curry's boss.

Other spunky guest shots over time included such popular programs as Amen, 227, Touched by an Angel, Ally McBeal and Reba, as well as quiz show participations on Match Game and To Tell the Truth.

Her work in films, which included a standout musical song (White Boys) in Milos Forman's film adaptation of Hair (1979) and a touching role as Piper Laurie's housekeeper in The Grass Harp (1995), was never fully engaged.

Carter was notoriously opinionated and audaciously candid as a person, a true survivor in her off-stage life, which was riddled with misfortune.

She endured constant weight problems and severe alcohol/cocaine habits (recovered) as well as two divorces, a suicide attempt, several miscarriages, bankruptcy, the death of a brother from AIDS and multiple surgeries after suffering a near-fatal brain aneurysm in 1992.

She battled diabetes for much of her adult life and once collapsed on stage during a 1997 performance of Annie, in which she played the boisterous Miss Hannigan.

To comfort and complete herself, she studied and adopted Judaism as her religion. In 1989 and 1990, she adopted two infant sons, Joshua and Daniel, to her family, which included daughter Tracey.

After a history of ups-and-downs, the 54-year-old singer/actress collapsed and died alone on 23 January, 2003, in her Beverly Hills home, subsequently found by her 13-year-old adopted son, Joshua.

The cause of death was not immediately established at the time but it was later established that she had suffered a fatal heart attack, complicated by her diabetes and obesity. She was interred in the Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.

At the time of her death, she was in rehearsals for another musical stage lead, this time in the Long Beach, California revival of the hit musical Raisin. The musical opened a few days later as scheduled with Nell's understudy taking over the role.






Television Roles

Show

Character

Beverly Morris

Harriet Pumple

Bess Richards

P.J. Moore

P.J. Moore

Dr. Susan Peters

Cynthia Winslow




LATEST ARTICLES

New on TV today: Saturday 22 January

The only new show tonight is the Season 16 premiere of Hell's Kitchen USA on eReality.


Lingashoni Teasers - February 2022

Murderers revealed!


The River 5 on 1Magic Teasers - February 2022

Season 5 premiere! An old stranger returns and asks questions no-one can answer.


The River 4 on 1Magic Teasers - February 2022

Season 4 finale! Panic and dread set in as Refilwe faces its future.


Illusion Teasers - February 2022

Series finale! Rani lures Pooja with the intention of killing her.


Getroud met Rugby Teasers - February 2022

Candice shares a video about her attacker and then promptly meets his ex wife.


New on TV today: Friday 21 January

Nat Geo uncovers more Lost Treasures of Egypt as Blue Venom Girl debuts on eExtra.


Gomora 2 Teasers - February 2022

Thati's wedding is back on track.


New! Happy Hearts Teasers - January 2022

Happiness and a lightness of spirit, starring an actress who became so unhappy she quit the show.


New! Never Say Goodbye Teasers - January 2022

Star-crossed lovers must fight bigoted social stereotypes to ensure they Never Say Goodbye.

LATEST SITE ACTIVITY


More activity at TVSA Central



LATEST SOAPIE TEASERS



LATEST SOAPIE TEASERS





×
×

You browser doesn't have Flash, Silverlight, Gears, BrowserPlus or HTML5 support.