Rosetta LeNoire (born Rosetta Olive Burton, August 8, 1911 – March 17, 2002) was an American stage, screen, and television actress, as well as a Broadway producer and casting agent. LeNoire is known to contemporary audiences for her work in television. She had regular roles on the series Gimme a Break! and Amen but she may be best known for her role as Estelle "Mother" Winslow (Carl's mother) on Family Matters, which ran from 1989-98. In 1999, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Amas Repertory Theater Edit
Rosetta LeNoire championed the cause of racial equity for more than 70 years. Her efforts profoundly influenced the New York theater community. In 1968, using her own savings, LeNoire founded the AMAS Repertory Theatre Company, an interracial theatre dedicated to multi-ethnic productions in New York City. With this company, LeNoire created an artistic community where members' individual skills were recognized without regard to race, creed, color, religion, or national origin. She became a successful and groundbreaking Broadway producer. The Actors' Equity Association awarded her the first award for helping contribute to the diversification of theatre casting; in 1988, the award was named the Rosetta LeNoire Award.
Amas Repertory Theatre provided a nurturing atmosphere for actors, and a community performing arts center. Throughout its history, many of the company's productions garnered reviews in The New York Times. The long-running theater's cramped headquarters were originally located at 1 East 104th Street, in the uptown neighborhood known as East Harlem. The theater continues today as Amas Musical Theatre, now located midtown on West 52nd Street above Jersey Boys, and carries on LeNoire's dream of diversity in the creative and theatrical arts. Since its inception, Amas has produced over 60 original musicals. Many of them have gone on to Broadway, including Bubbling Brown Sugar, which received a Tony Award nomination.
On March 17, 2002, LeNoire died at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, New Jersey of complications from diabetes, although an article in TV Guide reported that she died of pneumonia. A resident of the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, New Jersey, she was 90 at the time of her death.