Armelia McQueen Dies, Ghost Actress and Broadway Star Was 68
Sad news is coming in at the start of the week, as Ghost actress and Broadway star Armelia McQueen has passed away. A cause of death hasn’t yet been revealed, though McQueen’s friend Dorian Hannaway confirmed the performer’s passing with an emotional post on Facebook. She was 68 years old.
“My dear friend Armelia crossed over yesterday,” Hannaway said. “She leaves us cherishing her memory as she was one of the greatest friends you could ever have. The only thing bigger than her beautiful soul was her extraordinary talent. She gave us such joy in her many turns on the Broadway stage as well as her film and TV roles. She was brilliant in Ain’t Misbehavin’ and so many other shows.”
Born in Southern Pines, North Carolina, McQueen moved to New York at a young age after the divorce of her parents. Graduating from high school in 1969, she majored in fashion design at the Fashion Industry School, though she chose to pursue acting by then attending Herbert Berghof’s Drama School.
In 1978, McQueen was cast in a big role in the original Off Broadway production of Ain’t Misbehavin’. Named after a Fats Waller song, the musical serves as a tribute to the Black musicians of the 1920s and 1930s who were part of the Harlem Renaissance. The cast also included Charlayne Woodard, Andre De Shields, Ken Page, and Nell Carter. McQueen also debuted on Broadway that year when the show transferred to the Longacre Theatre, and the production won a Tony Award for Best Musical for 1978.
On the big screen, McQueen is perhaps best known for playing Clara Brown, the sister of Whoopi Goldberg’s Oda Mae Brown, in the 1990 movie Ghost. In the famous Jerry Zucker-directed movie, Patrick Swayze stars as the ghost of a murdered man trying to protect his wife (Demi Moore) with the help of a psychic (Goldberg). Along with Gail Boggs, McQueen plays one of the psychic’s two sisters who assist with her “readings.”
McQueen has appeared in several other movies, including the comedy movie Life alongside Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence. She has also had roles in Action Jackson, Sparkle, Quartet, and Hulk Hogan’s wrestling movie No Holds Barred. McQueen also appeared in Warren Beatty’s 1998 political satire Bulworth; Thomas Jefferson Byrd, an actor who also appeared in Bulworth, passed away recently as well.
On the small screen, McQueen has been seen in many memorable parts. She had a main role in the children’s musical series Adventures in Wonderland as the Red Queen, appearing in all 100 episodes of the four-season show. The actress has been featured in a variety of famous sitcoms, including Martin, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, That’s So Raven, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. She also had a recurring role on the drama series Hart of Dixie.
We offer our condolences to McQueen’s family and friends in the wake of this news. She was undeniably an entertaining performer and though McQueen may now be gone, it’s certain that she won’t be forgotten. May she rest in peace. This news comes to us from Deadline.