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 Diana Sands

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Diana Sands

  • Birth 22 Aug 1934 Bronx, Bronx County, New York, USA
  • Death 21 Sep 1973 New York, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
  • Burial Hartsdale, Westchester County, New York, USA
  • Plot Ashwood, Grave 545
  • Memorial ID 927

Acclaimed African-American Actress. From the Bronx, New York, her father was a carpenter, and her mother a milliner. Sands went to elementary school in Elmsford, New York, and racial discrimination forced her back to the Manhattan High School of the Performing Arts. After graduation in 1953, she toured with a carnival, returned to New York and began acting with the Greenwich Mews and in show tours while working night jobs to survive. She made her stage debut in George Bernard Shaw’s Major Barbara. Sands’ was spared from becoming a permanent keypunch operator at Con Edison with the 1957 role in "Land Beyond the River". In 1958 she appeared in "The Egg and I" and "Another Evening with Harry Stones". In 1959 she appeared in Daniel Petrie's film version of the Lorraine Hansberry play, "A Raisin in the Sun" (1961), playing "Beneatha Younger" beside with Ruby Dee and Claudia McNeil. 1964 was an exciting year for her. She won an "OBIE" for "Living Premise" and a Tony nomination for her role in James Baldwin’s "Blues for Mr. Charlie" and was then cast opposite Alan Alda in "The Owl and The Pussycat" which would have been unexceptional if portrayed by a white actress, but Miss Sands stepped into the role with no alteration in the script whatsoever, in a landmark performance introducing integration to the American cinema. In 1968, She garnered two Emmy nominations for "Beyond the Blues" and “Who Do You Kill,” She starred with Jeff Bridges in "The Landlord" in 1970, portraying "Fanny", a young ghetto mother who teaches her rich-boy white landlord what life is really all about. Diana performed at the Lincoln Center Theater as Cassandra in "Tiger at the Gates" and the lead in George Bernard Shaw’s "St. Joan." She and director Kurt Baker were engaged. and was to star opposite James Earl Jones in the production of "Claudine," but she fell ill during the summer of 1973, and died of cancer on September 21. She was just 39 years old.

Bio by: John T. Chiarella

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 927
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Diana Sands (22 Aug 1934–21 Sep 1973), Find A Grave Memorial no. 927, citing Ferncliff Cemetery and Mausoleum, Hartsdale, Westchester County, New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .