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Theresa Merritt

Actress Theresa Merritt, who starred in the TV series “That’s My Mama,” died June 12 of skin cancer in Calvary Hospital, New York. She was 75.

Born in Emporia, Va., Merritt made her stage debut at the age of 21 in Billy Rose’s 1943 musical “Carmen Jones.” She was a background singer for Harry Belafonte and the late Jackie Wilson, as well as a soloist for David Amram.

Receiving a Tony nomination in 1985 as Ma Rainey in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” Merritt also worked with the Lincoln Center Repertory Co. in “The Crucible,” and performed the role of Mistress Quickly in the Delacorte Theater production of “Henry V, Part One” in New York’s Central Park.

Other Broadway credits include “Mule Bone,” “Golden Boy,” “Division Street,” and “The Wiz.” Merritt additionally toured with productions of “Show Boat,” “Funny Girl,” and “South Pacific.”

Merritt’s work in the TV earned her Emmy nominations for the special “All About Mrs. Merritt” and for the PBS miniseries “Concealed Enemies.” She worked on many series including “The Love Boat,” “The Cosby Show,” “The Dinah Shore Show,” “NYPD Blue” and “Law and Order.”

Merritt’s motion picture work includes “They Might Be Giants,” “The Wiz,” “The Goodbye Girl,” “All That Jazz,” “The Great Santini” and “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.”

She is survived by her husband, four children and two grandchildren.

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