Beah Richards, Actress-Playwright
Award-winning African-American actress Beah Richards died of emphysema on Thurs., Sept. 14. Her age has been reported as 74 and 80.
Richards appeared in "The Miracle Worker" and "Purlie Victorious" on Broadway (and was an understudy in "A Raisin in the Sun"), as well as "The Little Foxes" at Lincoln Center and "The Amen Corner" and "Take a Giant Step" Off-Broadway.
Richards had an extensive film resume, including "The Great White Hope," in which she played James Earl Jones' mother, and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," in which she played Sidney Poitier's mother. For that role she was nominated for an Oscar.
She won a Theatre World Award in 1965, and also won two Emmy Awards. Earlier this year she won an Emmy for a guest starring role on "The Practice," and she won her first Emmy in 1988, for a role on "Frank's Place."
As a playwright, she wrote "A Black Woman Speaks," "One is a Crowd," and "An Evening with Beah Richards," all of which she also performed.
Frederick Koch, 88, Drama Prof.
Professor of Drama at the University of Miami Frederick Koch died Sat., Aug. 26 at his home in Miami. He was 88.
Koch is credited with creating the first fully-flexible theatre building in the round in the United States.
In 1939, after trying his hand at social work and statistics, and leaving that field to tour with and later create his own puppet show, Koch completed his master's degree and began his teaching career at the University of Virginia. Shortly thereafter, he left Virginia for the University of Miami, where in 1946 he organized the first Ring, a theatre in the round housed in the tower of a hotel in Coral Gables. From there, the Ring was moved to a tent on the main campus, and by 1950 the building of a permanent structure was commenced by the architects Robert M. Little and Marion M. Manley.
The theatre was inaugurated in February 1952 with a performance of Mary Coyle Chase's play, "Harvey."
In addition, Koch developed a smaller theatre with a conventional proscenium stage, the Box. His students there included Jerry Herman, who later wrote "Hello Dolly," "Mame," and "La Cage aux Folles."