Gloria Foster, three-time Obie-winning stage actress and film thesp whose most recent appearances included 1999’s “The Matrix,” died Saturday Oct. 6 of complications from diabetes at her Manhattan home. She was 64.
Born in Chicago, Foster studied acting at the Goodman Theater School of Drama before making her professional debut in the U. of Chicago’s County Theater. She relocated to New York in 1963 and quickly landed a role in Martin B. Duberman’s Off Broadway play “In White America.” Her performance of 27 different characters garnered much critical acclaim and earned her national media coverage and her first Obie.
She was honored with another Obie as well as a Theater World Award shortly thereafter, with her 1965 performance as Medea. Throughout the following years, Foster continued to take on a variety of roles, both classical and modern. In 1989, she was awarded a third Obie, this time for her turn as Miss Molly Hoffenburg in Bill Gunn’s “Forbidden City.”
Her much-lauded Off Broadway perf as Sadie Delany in Emily Mann’s “Having Our Say” in 1995 granted Foster Broadway fame as well.
Four years later, Foster made her last stage appearance, in a revival of “A Raisin in the Sun” at the Williamstown Theater Festival in Massachusetts.
Her film work includes 1964’s “Nothing but a Man” to 1999’s “The Matrix,” in which she played the spoon-bending seer, Oracle. On TV she guested on “I Spy,” “The Mod Squad,” “The Cosby Show,” “Law and Order,” and others.
She has no immediate family survivors.
A memorial service for family and friends will be held Monday at 6 p.m. in the Luesther Hall at the Public Theater. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.