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Hilda Simms (April 15, 1918 – February 6, 1994) was an African-American stage actress, best known for her starring role on Broadway in Anna Lucasta.


Early years

Born as Hilda Moses in Minneapolis, Minnesota, one of nine siblings. She studied teaching at the University of Minnesota until lack of money forced her to leave.


Anna Lucasta and Ms. Simms' performance in the title role created a stir when the play, written by Philip Yordan and produced by the American Negro Theater, moved from Harlem to Broadway in 1944.

In 1943, Ms. Simms moved permanently to New York. She acted in radio dramas and joined the American Negro Theater, where she was in charge of sound effects, props and publicity.

Second marriage

In 1947 Ms. Simms went with the play when it moved to London. While in the UK she married an American actor Richard Angerolla. (Her first marriage, to William Simms in 1941, ended in divorce, although she retained her first husband's surname as her professional name.)


Under the alias Julie Riccardo, she sang in nightclubs in Paris nightclubs before she returned to the USA in 1953 to make the film The Joe Louis Story. Her other film role was in The Black Widow (1954). She also appeared in The Cool World (1960), Tambourines to Glory (1963) as well as a revival of The Madwoman of Chaillot (1970) in New York. On television, she was in the series The Nurses.

As the director of the creative arts program of the New York State division of human rights in the 1960s she focused attention on discrimination and the lack of roles for black actors in film and television. After earning a master's degree in education from City College, she worked for drug treatment programs.


Hilda Simms died in Buffalo, New York, aged 75, from pancreatic cancer at the home of her sister Evelyn Sharp. She was survived by four other siblings as well as her second husband.

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