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Denise Nicholas
Born Donna Denise Nicholas
July 12, 1944 (1944-07-12) (age 65)
Detroit, Michigan
 United States
Spouse(s) Jim Hill (divorced)
Bill Withers (divorced)
Gilbert Moses (divorced)

Denise Nicholas (born Donna Denise Nicholas; July 12, 1944)[1] is an American actress and social activist who was involved in the American Civil Rights Movement. She is known primarily for her role as high school guidance counselor Liz McIntyre on the ABC comedy-drama series Room 222, and for her role as Councilwoman Harriet DeLong on the NBC/CBS drama series In the Heat of the Night.




Early life

Nicholas was born in Detroit, Michigan, the daughter of Louise Carolyn and Otto Nicholas.[1] She spent her early years in Detroit. With the remarriage of her mother to Robert Burgen, she then moved to Milan, Michigan, a small town south of Ann Arbor, graduating from Milan High School, in 1961. Nicholas is the middle child of three, an older brother, Otto, and a younger sister, Michele, now deceased. She attended the University of Michigan for two years then joined the Free Southern Theater, during the turbulent days of the civil rights movement. After spending two years touring the deep south with the FST, Nicholas went to New York and joined the Negro Ensemble Company participating in its rigorous training program and working in all productions during the first season of that acclaimed theater ensemble. From the stage of the St. Marks Playhouse in New York, Nicholas was cast as, "Liz McIntyre," the Guidance Counselor on the soon to be very popular and innovative ABC series, "Room 222." Nicholas received her BA in Drama, from the University of Southern California, after living in Southern California for a number of years.


Nicholas began her television acting career in 1968, with an episode of It Takes a Thief. She has since appeared in many popular movies and television shows. She is probably best known for her role as, "Liz McIntyre," on the show Room 222 (1969-1974), as well as her role as, "Harriet DeLong," on In the Heat of the Night (1989-1995). Nicholas wrote six episodes of the dramatic show, "In the Heat of the Night," and thus began her second career as a writer. When that show was cancelled, she enrolled in the Professional Writing Program at the University of Southern California, eventually finding her way to the Journeymen's Writing Workshop under the tutelage of author Janet Fitch. She worked with Fitch for five years. Nicholas also attended the Squaw Valley Community of Writers Workshop, and the Natalie Goldberg Workshop, in Taos, New Mexico.

Her first novel, Freshwater Road, was published by Agate Publishing, in August 2005, to critical acclaim, including a starred review in Publishers Weekly. It was selected as one of the best books of 2005 by The Washington Post, The Detroit Free Press, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Newsday and The Chicago Tribune. The novel won the Zora Neal Hurston/Richard Wright Award for debut fiction in 2006, as well as the American Library Association's Black Caucus Award for debut fiction the same year. Freshwater Road is currently available in paperback from the Pocketbooks division of Simon & Schuster.

Brown University commissioned Nicholas to write a staged adaptation of Freshwater Road, which was presented in May 2008.

She continues to do book events and speaking engagements around the country and is at work on her second novel.

Personal life

Nicholas was married to former football player and current CBS sports anchor Jim Hill but they are now divorced. She has no children and continues to make her home in Southern California.



Year Production Role Theatre(s) Notes
1982 Dame Lorraine[1] Angela Moulineaux Los Angeles Actors Theatre
1968 Song of the Lusitanian Bogey[2] St. Mark's Playhouse Revival of earlier production.
Daddy Goodness[3] Lena St. Mark's Playhouse
Kongi's Harvest[4] Praise Singer St. Mark's Playhouse
Song of the Lusitanian Bogey[5] St. Mark's Playhouse
1967 One Last Look[6] April Baylor Old Reliable Theater Tavern
1966 Viet Rock[7] Martinique Theatre

See also


  1. ^ a b c Denise Nicholas Biography (1944-)
  2. ^ "Song of the Lusitanian Bogey (Revival)". New York, New York: Lortel Archives: The Internet Off-Broadway Database.  
  3. ^ "Daddy Goodness". New York, New York: Lortel Archives: The Internet Off-Broadway Database.  
  4. ^ "Kongi's Harvest". New York, New York: Lortel Archives: The Internet Off-Broadway Database.  
  5. ^ "Song of the Lusitanian Bogey (Original Production)". New York, New York: Lortel Archives: The Internet Off-Broadway Database.  
  6. ^ Carter, Steve (1986). Plays by Steve Carter (First ed.). New York, New York: Broadway Play Publishing, Inc.. pp. 81-104. ISBN 0-88145-043-X.  
  7. ^ "Viet Rock". New York, New York: Lortel Archives: The Internet Off-Broadway Database.  

External links


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