Olivia Cole, Emmy-Winning ‘Roots’ Actress, Dies at 75

Actress is also known for her work on the NBC miniseries “Backstairs at the White House”

Last Updated: January 30, 2018 @ 12:18 PM

Olivia Cole, the Emmy-winning star of the original “Roots” miniseries, has died at the age of 75.

The actress died on Friday at her home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, according to her agent Susie Schwarz of SDB Partners.

Born November 26, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee, Cole got her start in acting on the CBS soap “Guiding Light” in 1969. Her breakout role, however, came a few years later on the hit ABC miniseries “Roots” in 1977.

For her work as Mathilda, the wife of Ben Vereen’s “Chicken George” Moore, Cole won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by a Supporting Actress (later adapted to Guest Actress), making her the first African-American winner in the category.

Cole also received an Emmy nomination in 1979 for her work on the NBC miniseries “Backstairs at the White House,” on which she portrayed the real-life former White House maid Maggie Rogers.

Her other credits include the Oprah Winfrey-led ABC miniseries “The Women of Brewster Place,” the CBS sitcom “Szysznyk” and the Best Picture nominee “Coming Home.”