Leslie Uggams has had a fascinating career as an actress on the big screen and on the stage.
Probably best known for her role in the Deadpool series the Harlem-born singer and actress has had a successful career spanning seven decades.
But behind the scenes, her personal life could be the subject of a movie after she tied the knot with White Australian man Grahame Pratt in 1965 as their love affair throughout the ages has defied all the odds of interracial love…
Leslie was a talented singer and in 1953 when she was just 10 years old she made a record for MGM. Encouraged by her aunt singer Eloise Uggams she attended the Professional Children’s School of New York and prestigious New York music school Julliard.
But her musical career was only the start of her journey and by 1969 she had her own TV variety show “The Leslie Uggams Show”, the first network variety show to be hosted by a black person since “The Nat King Cole Show.”
But behind the scenes she had met and fallen in love with actor Grahame Pratt. After first meeting him at Professional Children’s School of New York, where they were both students, the couple then ran into each other while she was performing in Sydney during one of Leslie’s celebrity tours in Australia.
Leslie knew what the repercussions would be of dating a white man as she’d done so in her teens and her aunt had told her not to entertain the idea of a future with him.
“I remember the shock I got once when I was dating a white boy,” Leslie said in a 1967 interview with Ebony.
“He sent me a color picture of himself. I showed it to my aunt. He was a good looking boy with beautiful hair. I thought he was gorgeous. But my aunt took one look and started in to lecture me. ‘Well he’s alright, I suppose,’ she told me, ‘but only for dates, huh, honey? When you’re thinking of settling down for keeps you’ll make sure you marry a nice [Black] fella, won’t you?’”
After her chance meeting with Grahame Leslie said she kept seeing him.
“I found myself really falling for him, which was quite a thing for me to realize as I was only 21.”