Who is Denise Nicholas?
Donna Denise Nicholas was born in Detroit, Michigan USA, on 12 July 1944 – her zodiac sign is Cancer, and she holds American nationality. She’s an author and a former actress, who has appeared in more than 50 movies and TV series, while she’s perhaps still known best for her portrayal of the supporting character Beth Foster, in the 1975 action crime comedy film “Let’s Do It Again”. It was directed by Sidney Poitier, who also starred in it alongside Bill Cosby and Calvin Lockhart, and follows two men who are rigging boxing matches; the movie was nominated for five awards.
Early life, sister and education
Denise was raised in Detroit alongside her sister Michelle and brother Otto Jr, by their mother Louise Carolyn and father Otto Sr; nothing is known about her family as Denise respects their privacy.
Her sister was murdered in 1980, found in the trunk of a rented car; Denise and her brother tried to investigate themselves, but the murderer was never identified.
Her parents divorced when she was 10 years old, and after her mother married Robert Burgen, Denise moved with them to Milan in Michigan. Denise studied at Milan High School, and was amongst the best students there, which helped her become featured on the cover page of the magazine “Jet” on 25 August 1960.
Upon matriculating in 1961, she enrolled at the University of Michigan, but from which she dropped out a year before graduation. She returned to college, enrolling at Tulane University, however, Denise dropped out again, moved to New York City, and started appearing in theatre plays, which eventually lead to her first roles on TV.
Roles in TV series
Denise made her debut TV series appearance with her portrayal of Toosdhi, in the 1968 episode “To Catch a Roaring Lion” of the action crime adventure “It Takes a Thief”, and gained recognition the following year, when cast to play the supporting character Ethel, in the popular crime drama “N. Y. P. D.”
Between 1969 and 1974, Denise starred as Liz McIntyre in 113 episodes of the family comedy “Room 222”, created by James L. Brooks, and which also starred Lloyd Haynes and Michael Constantine. It follows the black teacher Pete Dixon who’s working at Walt Whitman High, and the series won eight awards, including three Primetime Emmys, while it was nominated for 15 other awards.
By the end of the ‘70s, Denise had made a guest appearance in a couple of popular series, such as the action crime drama “Police Story”, the comedy “Rhoda”, and the drama “Marcus Welby, M. D.”
After around 10 years of guest starring in an episode or two of various series, Denise was cast to star as Harriet DeLong Gillespie in the critically acclaimed mystery crime drama “In the Heat of the Night”. Created by James Lee Barrett, it also starred Carroll O’Connor and Alan Autry, and follows several police officers who are working in Sparta, Mississippi; the series aired from 1988 to 1995, and won five awards, including a Primetime Emmy, while it was nominated for 10 other awards.
After shooting “In the Heat of the Night”, Denise appeared in only three more TV series; the 1995 episode “A Kiss Is Just a Kiss” of the comedy “The Parent ‘Hood”, two episodes of the comedy “Living Single” in 1997, and the 2002 episode “Failure to Communicate” of the family comedy “My Wife and Kids”.
Roles in movies
Denise made her debut film appearance with her portrayal of Joy in the 1971 horror thriller movie “Five Desperate Women”, while a couple of her following roles were in the 1972 romantic fantasy horror “Blacula”, the 1973 western “The Soul of Nigger Charley”, and the 1975 crime thriller drama “Mr. Ricco”.
Denise gained recognition in 1977, when cast to star as Betty Walker in the action adventure drama “Capricorn One”, written and directed by Peter Hyams, and which also starred Elliott Gould and James Brolin. It follows authorities who have decided to fake a launch to Mars, and the movie was nominated for five awards.
A couple of Denise’s most notable performances in the ‘80s were in the 1981 family comedy drama “The Big Stuffed Dog”, the 1983 drama “Marvin & Tige” and the 1985 family drama “And the Children Shall Lead”.
In 1989, she was cast to play Elizabeth Sturgis in the crime drama “Mother’s Day”, directed by Susan Rohrer, and which starred Terrance Afer-Anderson, Eddie Allen and Bernie Casey. It follows a black man who has been accused of a crime, while the only person who believes that he’s innocent is his mother; the film was nominated for a single award.
Denise’s three final movie roles were in the 2000 drama “Ritual”, the 2004 drama “Proud” and the 2015 musical family fantasy “Mr. Fantastic & The Wonderful Depot”.
Denise wrote six episodes of the series “In the Heat of the Night” between 1992 and 1994.
She could’ve been seen featured in various documentaries, including the 2001 series “Biography”, the 2005 series “TV Land Confidential” and the 2021 film “Black Art: In the Absence of Light”.
Denise has made a guest appearance in an episode of several talk-shows, including “Larry King Live”, “Ken Boxer Live” and “The Actor’s Choice”.
Awards and nominations
She has won one of the five awards for which she’s been nominated; a 1976 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture, for her performance in “Let’s Do It Again”.
Denise was also nominated for three Golden Globes for Best TV Actress – Drama, in 1970, ‘71 and ‘72 for her performance in “Room 222”.
Love life and husband
Denise has been married three times. In May 1964, she exchanged vows with the late American director Gilbert Moses III, who was at that time head of Free Southern Theatre, of which Denise was a member; the two divorced in 1967.
Denise married her second husband Bill Withers, the late American singer-songwriter, on 17 January 1973; a year prior to their wedding, Denise contacted the police, and claimed that Bill had beaten her up in her motel room, after she had threatened to break up with him. The two divorced in December 1974, after having been separated for half a year.
On 14 February 1981 (Valentine’s Day), Denise married the former American sports anchor Jim Hill – they filed for divorce in October that year, then reconciled, but filed for divorce again in 1984, which was finalized in 1987.
Denise hasn’t spoken of any other men whom she has perhaps been with, and as of November 2021, she’s single, has been married three times, and doesn’t have children.
Hobbies and other interests
Denise loved to travel during her career, and she has been all around the world, visiting nearly all of the US states, various European countries, and many Asian countries; her dream travel destination is apparently Bern, the capital of Switzerland.
She’s a huge cat-lover, and has had many pet cats; Denise has apparently donated money to various animal shelters, as well as to several charity organizations, most of which aim to improve the quality of life for war veterans and underprivileged children.
She has her own favorite actors and actresses, some of whom are Al Pacino, Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep, while a couple of her favorite films include “Scent of a Woman”, “The Bridges of Madison County”, and “Kramer vs. Kramer”.
Denise enjoyed playing various sports during her 20s and 30s, including tennis and beach volleyball.
Age, height and net worth
Denise’s age is 77. She has long brown hair and brown eyes, her height is 5ft 5ins (1.65m) and she weighs around 130lbs (60kgs).
As of November 2021, her net worth has been estimated at over $3 million.