Theresa Merritt

Theresa Merritt Hines (September 24, 1922  – June 12, 1998) was an American stage, film and television actress and singer. Born in Emporia, Virginia, Merritt appeared in many theatrical productions but gained fame later in life when she starred in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (Tony Award nomination) and The Wiz (she replaced Mabel King as Evelline, and although the demanding role was a highly visible one for her she left it, citing its deleterious effect on her voice) and the television series That's My Mama. Her most notable film roles were Aunt Em in the 1978 film version of The Wiz, Mrs. Crosby in the 1977 film adaptation of Neil Simon's The Goodbye Girl and Juanita in the Adam Sandler comedy Billy Madison. She also appeared alongside Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton in the film adaptation of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Merritt was married to Benjamin Hines; they had four children. Merritt died of skin cancer on June 12, 1998 in The Bronx.


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