NY Times

One of the First African American Performers With a Recurring Role on Network TV Dies at 90

Jan 11, 2016  •  Post A Comment

An actress who helped integrate network television with appearances in the 1950s and 1960s has died. The New York Times reports that Billie Allen died Dec. 29 at her home in Manhattan. She was 90.

Allen appeared frequently in guest roles on “The Phil Silvers Show” in the 1950s and had a string of commercials in the 1960s. She also was a pioneer of the New York stage, appearing on and off Broadway.

“Though not a marquee name, Ms. Allen was part of a significant theater cohort,” the paper reports. “She was a longtime friend of Ruby Dee (whom she directed in 2001 in ‘Saint Lucy’s Eyes,’ an Off Broadway drama about abortion). Her second husband was the composer and arranger Luther Henderson, with whom she helped develop ‘Little Ham,’ a musical based on Langston Hughes’ play of the same name about street life in Harlem.”

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