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Gloria Foster

Foster in The Matrix Reloaded as The Oracle
Born November 15, 1933(1933-11-15)
Chicago, Illinois
Died September 29, 2001 (aged 67)
New York City
Spouse(s) Clarence Williams III

Gloria Foster (November 15, 1933 – September 29, 2001) was an American actress, most known for a her stage performances portraying an array of African-American characters, including her acclaimed roles, in plays In White America and Having Our Say[1] winning three Obie Awards during her career.

In films, she was perhaps best known as The Oracle in The Matrix (1999) and The Matrix Reloaded (2003), starring alongside Keanu Reeves, the latter film being her last.[2]



Foster was born in Chicago, Illinois, and raised in Janesville, Wisconsin[3] by her maternal grandparents, Eleanor and Clyde Sudds. She first studied in oratory classes at University of Illinois, followed by a stint at the Goodman Theater School of Drama at Chicago, she made her professional debut in the Court Theater at the University of Chicago, eventually graduating to Broadway, in 1961, with her role as Ruth in Lorraine Hansberry's, A Raisin in the Sun.[4] She moved to New York, in 1963, and walked into an open audition for Martin B. Duberman's In White America, landing the acclaimed role and later an Obie Award.[1] In the early '70s, she was admitted to a special graduate program in education at UMass.[5]

She made her film debut with, The Cool World (1964), during which she met her future husband, actor-director Clarence Williams III, who portrayed Linc Hayes on the 1960s TV show, Mod Squad. Before becoming known on the big screen, Foster had a long career in theater, winning three Obie Awards, for playing 27 different characters in Martin Duberman's historical drama, In White America (1963), while reprising the role of Medea, in 1965, for which she also won a Theatre World Award; she received her third Obie, in 1989, playing, "Miss Molly Hofenburg," in Bill Gunn’s Forbidden City.[4][6] She returned to theatre again in 1995, acting alongside Mary Alice (who was later to replace her in the Matrix films following her death), appearing as 103-year-old "Sadie Delany," in Having Our Say, on Broadway at the Booth Theater, for which she received to rave reviews.[6][7]

She was also active in television, appearing in such programs as I Spy, two episodes of Law & Order and The Cosby Show (1987).

Her character in both Law and Order episodes was based on the widow of Malcolm X, Betty Shabazz. The first episode was based on Malcolm X's assassination, while the second focused on her character's children's acts of revenge against those who they thought were really responsible.

Foster died on September 29, 2001, in New York City, of diabetes, and was interred in the Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn.[8] She was a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.



  1. ^ a b Gloria Foster, Stage Actress, Is Dead at 64 New York Times, October 5, 2001.
  2. ^ Gloria Foster as The Oracle - Profile
  3. ^ Actress Gloria Foster Is Remembered at Manhattan Memorial Playbill.
  4. ^ a b Gloria Foster Allmovie.
  5. ^ Gloria Foster Biography UMass.
  6. ^ a b Gloria Foster bio: The Matrix Actor
  7. ^ Gloria Foster (1936–2001), Robert Simonson, October 9, 2001.
  8. ^ Notable Burials

External links



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