Beah E. Richards (1920-2000) was born Beulah Elizabeth Richardson in Vicksburg, Mississippi, where the number-one rule in her parents' home was, "The bottom is overcrowded so strive for the top!" She came to New York in 1950. Her first significant stage role was in 1955, playing an elderly woman in the off-Broadway play Take a Giant Step. She developed a career as a prolific actress, playwright, and published poet, receiving a Tony nomination for her role in James Baldwin's The Amen Corner, and garnering an Oscar nomination for her part as Mrs. Prentice in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. In 1988 she won an Emmy for her role on Frank's Place, and in 2000 she won an Emmy award for her role on The Practice. LisaGay Hamilton accepted the award on behalf of Ms. Richards, and delivered the Emmy to Beah in Mississippi. Ms. Richards died two weeks later.