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Mary Alice, Emmy and Tony winning actress, dead at 85

Mary Alice, actress known for "Fences" and "A Different World," dies at age 85
Mary Alice, actress known for "Fences" and "A Different World," dies at age 85 00:46

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Tony and Emmy winning actress Mary Alice, known for her roles in the Broadway production of August Wilson's "Fences" and the "Cosby Show" spinoff "A Different World," has died at age 85.

The New York Police Department said she died of natural causes Wednesday at her home in Manhattan.

Born as Mary Alice Smith in Mississippi, she grew up in Chicago, and graduated from the Chicago Teachers College, which later became Chicago State University. She also taught at an elementary school in Chicago before becoming a stage and screen actress, under the professional name Mary Alice.

She won a Tony Award for her portrayal of Rose Maxson in the Broadway production of "Fences" in 1987 before gaining even more nationwide fame playing dorm mother Lettie Bostic on the first two seasons of "A Different World."

She won an Emmy award in 1993 for her supporting role in the TV series "I'll Fly Away."

She also had a role in "The Matrix Revolutions," replacing Gloria Foster as The Oracle in the "Matrix" series after Foster's death.

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