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7673: Haitian-American actress dies (fwd)
Josephine Premice, Actress Who Dazzled on Broadway, Dies at 74
By ROBIN POGREBIN
New York Times - April 17, 2001
Josephine Premice, an actress nominated for Tony Awards for her performances
in the musical "Jamaica" and "A Hand Is on the Gate," an evening of black
poetry, died on Friday at her home in Manhattan. She was 74.
The cause was emphysema.
Ms. Premice, whose married name was Fales, also starred on Broadway from 1976
to 1977 in the musical "Bubbling Brown Sugar." Reviewing the production in
The New York Times, Clive Barnes wrote that Ms. Premice "can almost make a
feather boa come alive." Her other Broadway appearances included "Mister
Johnson" in 1956, a play about Nigeria by Norman Rosten, based on the novel
by Joyce Cary.
Writing about Ms. Premice's 1957 performance in "Jamaica," which starred Lena
Horne, the Times dance critic Jennifer Dunning described her as "a
razzle-dazzle lead performer who was hot flame to Horne's cool fire."
"A Hand Is on the Gate" moved in 1966 to the Longacre Theater from the New
York Shakespeare Festival, where it originated under the title "An Evening of
Poetry and Folk Music of American Negroes." Ms. Premice worked frequently for
Joseph Papp, appearing in an all-black production of "Electra" for the
Shakespeare Festival's mobile theater, which toured the city's boroughs in
She was also in the festival's 1973 production of "The Cherry Orchard,"
directed by James Earl Jones.
Ms. Premice was in the original cast of "House of Flowers," a musical comedy
by Truman Capote that was choreographed by George Balanchine and featured
Pearl Bailey, Juanita Hall and Diahann Carroll. She left the production
before it moved from Philadelphia to Broadway, but appeared in an Off
Broadway revival of the play in 1968.
On television, she was a frequent guest on "The Merv Griffin Show" and a
guest star on the sitcom "A Different World." She also played Louise
Jefferson's sister on "The Jeffersons" and appeared on "The Cosby Show."
Born in Brooklyn in 1926 to Haitian parents, Ms. Premice grew up in New York
and Haiti and studied dance with Martha Graham and Katherine Dunham. She
began her theatrical career in the 1945 production of "Blue Holiday" at the
Belasco Theater alongside Ethel Waters and Josh White, the folk singer.
Ms. Premice's final stage performance was as Amanda Wingfield in the first
professional all-black production of Tennessee Williams's "Glass Menagerie"
at the Cleveland Playhouse in 1989.
She is survived by her husband, Capt. Timothy Fales of Paris; a son, Enrico
Fales; a daughter, Susan Fales-Hill; and a sister, Adele Premice, all of New
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