Photo Coverage: Remembering Billie Allen

As reported by The New York Times last weekend, Billie Allen, who helped "bridge the racial gap" both on and off-Broadway in the 1950s and '60s, passed away on December 29, 2015. She was 90 years old.

Allen first took the New York stage as a dancer in Broadway's CARIBBEAN CARNIVAL, FOUR SAINTS IN THREE ACTS and MY DARLIN' AIDA. She was an understudy for the role of 'Beneatha Younger' in Broadway's A RAISIN IN THE SUN and went on to appear in CRITIC'S CHOICE and BLUES FOR MR. CHARLIE. Her final role on Broadway was in 1969's A TEASPOON EVERY FOUR HOURS. Off-Broadway, Allen was well known for playing 'Sarah' in FUNNYHOUSE OF A NEGRO.

She directed her friend and stage star Ruby Dee in SAINT LUCY'S EYES off-Broadway in 2001. Allen was also married to composer and arranger Luther Henderson; the couple worked together to develop the musical LITTLE HAM. She also founded the Frank Silvera Writers Workshop in Harlem in 1973 with help from Oscar winner Morgan Freeman.

She was one of the first black performers to have a recurring role on a network series -- she appeared in the Women's Army Corps on CBS's THE PHIL SILVERS SHOW. Allen went on to appear in commercials, 1978's THE WIZ, and eventually in LAW & ORDER in the '90s.

Photo Credit: Walter McBride

high res photos

Photo Coverage: Remembering Billie Allen
Billie Allen ( director FUNNYHOUSE OF A NEGRO ) attending the Nominees' Cocktail Party at Therapy for the 21st Annual Lucille Lortel Awards for Outstanding Achievement Off-Broadway. New York City.April 17th, 2006.

Photo Coverage: Remembering Billie Allen
Billie Allen ( director FUNNYHOUSE OF A NEGRO ) attending the Nominees' Cocktail Party at Therapy for the 21st Annual Lucille Lortel Awards for Outstanding Achievement Off-Broadway. New York City.April 17th, 2006.

Photo Coverage: Remembering Billie Allen
Billie Allen attends the Off-Broadway Opening night of the Cherry Lane Theatre and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater co-production of the world premiere of 'One Night...' at the Cherry Lane Theatre on November 20, 2013 in New York City.

Photo Coverage: Remembering Billie Allen
Billie Allen attends the Off-Broadway Opening night of the Cherry Lane Theatre and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater co-production of the world premiere of 'One Night...' at the Cherry Lane Theatre on November 20, 2013 in New York City.

Photo Coverage: Remembering Billie Allen
Billie Allen attends the Off-Broadway Opening night of the Cherry Lane Theatre and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater co-production of the world premiere of 'One Night...' at the Cherry Lane Theatre on November 20, 2013 in New York City.

Photo Coverage: Remembering Billie Allen
Billie Allen attends the Off-Broadway Opening night of the Cherry Lane Theatre and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater co-production of the world premiere of 'One Night...' at the Cherry Lane Theatre on November 20, 2013 in New York City.

Photo Coverage: Remembering Billie Allen
Billie Allen attends Woodie King Jr.'s New Federal Theatre 44th Anniversary Gala - Cocktail Party at BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center on March 16, 2014 in New York City.

Photo Coverage: Remembering Billie Allen
Billie Allen attends Woodie King Jr.'s New Federal Theatre 44th Anniversary Gala - Cocktail Party at BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center on March 16, 2014 in New York City.

Photo Coverage: Remembering Billie Allen
Billie Allen attends Woodie King Jr.'s New Federal Theatre 44th Anniversary Gala - Cocktail Party at BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center on March 16, 2014 in New York City.

Photo Coverage: Remembering Billie Allen
Billie Allen attends the Broadway Opening Night Performance of "Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill" at Circle in the Square Theatre on April 13, 2014 in New York City.

Photo Coverage: Remembering Billie Allen
Andre de Shields & Billie Allen attending the After Party for the Red Bull Theatre Revival of 'The Witch Of Edmonton' at Theatre at St. Clement's in New York City.



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From This Author Walter McBride