Nell Carter, best known as the saucy housekeeper on the 1980s sitcom, "Gimme a Break!" and a Tony Award-winning performer in the Fats Waller Broadway musical, "Ain't Misbehavin,' " died Thurs., Jan. 23 at her home in Beverly Hills. She was 54. She had been afflicted with diabetes for years and had suffered a brain aneurysm in 1992.
Most recently, she was seen on Broadway in the revival of "Annie," playing the mean-spirited Miss Hannigan. Just before her death, she was in rehearsals at a Long Beach, Cal. theatre for "Raisin," the musical version of "A Raisin in the Sun."
Carter was a Birmingham, Ala. native and launched her career on the gospel circuit before moving on to nightclubs in her hometown and later in New York City.
In addition to her Tony Award, Carter garnered two Emmy nominations for her sitcom stint. A 1985 episode of "Gimme a Break!" was broadcast live, the first for a sitcom in close to three decades.