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Rosalind Cash; Veteran TV, Movie Actress

November 02, 1995|MYRNA OLIVER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Rosalind Cash, a black actress whose career endured and flourished on stage, screen and television despite her staunch refusal to play stereotyped roles, has died. She was 56.

Ms. Cash died Tuesday of cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Recently familiar in the recurring role of matriarch Mary Mae Ward on the soap opera "General Hospital," Ms. Cash was nominated for an Emmy for her work in the PBS production of "Go Tell It on the Mountain." She was popular in other highly rated television productions, including "King Lear" and the miniseries "The Guyana Tragedy: the Story of Jim Jones."

She also guest-starred on popular series such as "Barney Miller," "Police Story," "Kojak," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "China Beach," "thirtysomething," "Cagney & Lacey" and "Hill Street Blues."

Her memorable film roles included Lisa opposite Charlton Heston in "The Omega Man," Sarah Jackson in the comedy "Uptown Saturday Night" and John Emdall in the cult classic "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension."

Ms. Cash earned the Black American Cinema Society's Phoenix Award for achievement in motion pictures in 1987 and was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 1992.

Born in Atlantic City, she moved to New York in her teens. She attended City College and became a founding member of the highly respected Negro Ensemble Company.

Her career began with legitimate theater. She made her debut on Broadway in "The Wayward Stork" in 1966 and appeared in productions such as "Fiorello!" "Ceremonies in Dark Old Men," "Boesman and Lena." In London she performed in "The Class of Miss MacMichael" with Glenda Jackson.

When acting roles were sparse, Ms. Cash supported herself as a secretary, waitress, key-punch operator and a jazz club singer, admitting that she was only acting as if she could sing.

"Maybe I've handled it all wrong, but I've gotten out of it what I wanted to get out of it," she said in discussing her career. "That's a sense of being true to myself. I came to a point where I said I know there are things I am not going to do for money.

"I'm not good at playing stereotypes," she said. "I don't ingratiate myself to the powers-that-be as some nice, Negro, colored, abiding person. You cannot depend on me to be that Negro that you have come to know and love, that you're used to."

A woman of many interests, the actress wrote poetry, painted, played guitar, cooked, sewed and gardened at the Los Feliz home she shared with multimedia artist Felipe.

A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at the Church of Christian Fellowship, 2085 S. Hobart Ave., Los Angeles.

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