Birthplace: Mangum, Oklahoma, U.S.
Margaret Avery (born January 20, 1944) is an American actress and singer. She began her career appearing on stage and later has had starring roles in films include Cool Breeze (1972), Which Way Is Up? (1977), Scott Joplin (1977), and The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh (1979).
Avery is best known for her performance as Shug Avery in the 1985 period drama film The Color Purple for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. She continued appearing in films include Blueberry Hill (1988), White Man's Burden (1995), Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins (2008), Meet the Browns (2008), and Proud Mary (2018). In 2013, Avery began starring as Helen Patterson, lead character's mother, in the BET drama series Being Mary Jane.Margaret Avery was born in Mangum, Oklahoma and raised in San Diego, California, where she attended Point Loma High School. She then attended San Francisco State University, where in 1985, she earned her degree in education. While working as a substitute teacher in Los Angeles, Avery began making singing and acting appearances.
Avery is best known for her role as Shug Avery in the 1985 film The Color Purple. Her performance in this screen adaptation of Alice Walker's prize-winning novel The Color Purple earned Avery an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
Among the plays Avery appeared in were Revolution and The Sistuhs. In 1972 for her performance in Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie?, she received the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Performance by an Actress.
In the television movie Something Evil (1972), a horror story with Sandy Dennis and Darren McGavin, Avery was directed by Steven Spielberg. That same year she made her theatrical motion picture debut as Lark in the crime film Cool Breeze with Thalmus Rasulala and Judy Pace. In this blaxploitation remake of The Asphalt Jungle, Avery played the Marilyn Monroe part. The following year she played a prostitute in Magnum Force, the second in the series of Dirty Harry films starring Clint Eastwood, in which her character was murdered by her pimp. The character was killed through the pouring drain cleaner down the victim's throat which was said to have inspired the notorious Hi-Fi Murders case in 1974.
In the 1977 film Which Way Is Up?, directed by Michael Schultz, Avery gave a comedic performance as Annie Mae, the wife of Richard Pryor's character. That same year, she played Belle Joplin, wife of the ragtime composer Scott Joplin, opposite Billy Dee Williams in the title role.
In 1992 Avery starred in The Jacksons: An American Dream as Martha Scruse, mother of Katherine Jackson, who was played by Angela Bassett.
She has also made guest appearances on TV, including The New Dick Van Dyke Show, Kojak, Sanford and Son, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, A.E.S. Hudson Street, Murder, She Wrote, Miami Vice, Spenser: For Hire, The Cosby Show, Walker, Texas Ranger, and JAG.
Currently, Avery plays recurring character Helen Patterson in BET's series Being Mary Jane.
In January 1974, Margaret Avery married Robert Gordon Hunt. They have one daughter, Aisha Hunt, and divorced in 1980.
Margaret Avery lives in Los Angeles, and remains active in the show business. While continuing to act, she also works with at-risk teenagers and battered women of the Greater Los Angeles Area. She was interviewed by Melody Trice on The Melody Trice Show about her activism.
|1973||An Eye for an Eye||Nurse|
|1973||An Eye for an Eye||Nurse|
|1973||Hell Up in Harlem||Sister Jennifer|
|1976||Louis Armstrong - Chicago Style||Alma Rae||NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special|
|1977||Which Way Is Up?||Annie Mae|
|1977||Scott Joplin||Belle Joplin||Nominated — NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture|
|1979||The Fish That Saved Pittsburgh||Toby Millman|
|1980||The Sky Is Gray||Rosemary|
|1980||The Lathe of Heaven||Heather LeLache|
|1985||The Color Purple||Shug Avery||Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress|
|1988||Blueberry Hill||Hattie Cale|
|1989||Single Women Married Men||Grace Williams|
|1990||Heat Wave||Roxie Turpin|
|1990||The Return of Superfly||Francine|
|1993||Lightning in a Bottle||Dr. Sierheed|
|1993||Night Trap||Miss Sadie|
|1994||Cyborg 3: The Recycler||Doc Edford|
|1995||The Set-Up||Olivia Dubois|
|1995||White Man's Burden||Megan Thomas|
|2002||Waitin' to Live||Pearline Loggins|
|2002||Second to Die||Insurance agent|
|2007||Lord Help Us||Dorinda Thomas|
|2008||Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins||Mama Jenkins|
|2008||Meet the Browns||Sarah Brown|
|1973||The New Dick Van Dyke Show||Pam Harris / Nurse Wilkinson||Episode: "What Your Best Friend Doesn't Know"|
|1973||Ironside'||Bartender||Episode: "The Last Payment"|
|1974||Kojak||Lula||Episode: "You Can't Tell a Hurt Man How to Holler"|
|1974||Marcus Welby, M.D.||Julie||Episode: "The 266 Days"|
|1975||Sanford and Son||Denise||Episode: "Strange Bedfellows"|
|1975||Kolchak: The Night Stalker||Ruth Van Galen||Episode: "The Sentry"|
|1982||The Powers of Matthew Star||April||Episode: "Accused"|
|1983||For Us, the Living||Dottie|
|1987||Rags to Riches||Celia Richards (Cee Cee Smith)|
|1987||Miami Vice||Sally Cordova||Episode: "The Afternoon Plane"|
|1992||The Jacksons: An American Dream||Martha Scruse|
|1992||The Cosby Show||Leah||Episode: "Clair's Reunion"|
|1992||Roc||Helen||Episode: "The Lady Killer"|
|1998||Wie stark muss eine Liebe sein||Mary McMillian||German TV|
|2012||Single Ladies||Josephine||Episode: "Ex Factor"|
|2013-present||Being Mary Jane||Helen Patterson||Recurring Role|