Another icon from the modern heyday of black moviemaking has died.
Vonetta McGee, who starred in “Blacula,” “Shaft in Africa” and “Thomasine and Bushrod,” died last Friday at a hospital in Berkeley after suffering cardiac arrest and spending two days on life support, The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday. She was 65.
Family spokeswoman Kelley Nayo told The Times that although McGee had been diagnosed as a teenager with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, her death was unrelated to the disease.
As word of her death began to circulate Thursday, postings began showing up on a Facebook fan page, as well as on Twitter and the blogosphere.
In addition to starring with actors Richard Roundtree in “Shaft in Africa” (1973) and Max Julien in “Thomasine & Bushrod” (1974), McGee also appeared with Fred Williamson in “Hammer” and Clint Eastwood in “The Eiger Sanction,” an action thriller.
"I was pleased to see her get a role with Clint Eastwood," said Williamson, who knew McGee before they made "Hammer," told the Times. "Not many black actors had that opportunity to be in a movie where color doesn't matter,”
"Vonetta McGee was like a lot of actors and actresses at that time, like myself, Jim Brown, Richard Roundtree, Billy Dee Williams and Pam Grier, in that we had more talent than we were allowed to show because everything was perceived as a black project," Williamson said. "Once they categorize you, your marketability becomes limited."
Vonetta's film credits include the following:
• Johnny B. (1998) Repo Man (1984)
• Scruples (1981)(TV Movie)
• Superdome (1978)(TV Movie)
• Woo fook (1977)
• Brothers (1977)
• The Eiger Sanction (1975)
• Thomasine & Bushrod (1974)
• Detroit 9000 (1973)
• Shaft in Africa (1973)
• The Norliss Tapes (1973)(TV Movie)
• Hammer (1972)
• The Man Next Door (1996)(Tv Movie)
• Cagney & Lacey: The Return (1994)(TV Movie)
• Wonderworks: You Must Remember This (1992)(TV Movie)
• Perry Mason: The Case of the Reckless Romeo (1992)(TV Movie)
• Stormy Weathers (1992)(TV Movie)
• Wonderworks: Brother Future (1991)(TV Movie)
• To Sleep with Anger (1990)
• Hell Town (1985)(TV Movie)
• Blacula (1972)
• Melinda (1972)
• Crucified Girls Of San Ramon (1972)
• The Kremlin Letter (1970)
• The Lost Man (1969)
• Faustina (1968)
• The Big Silence (1968)
Vonetta had been married to actor Carl Lumbly since 1987 and they have one child. The couple married in 1986 and had a son, Brandon, two years later. In addition to her husband and son, she is survived by her mother, Alma McGee; three brothers, Donald, Richard and Ronald McGee; and a sister, Alma McGee.
Thoughts of Vonetta………By Her Brother!
Her brother left this note on her imdb page:
My sister did pass away this past week, thank you all for the strong positive feelings, I didn't know these posts existed. As beautiful as she was on the outside she was even more beautiful on the inside, a force of nature.
I'll try to answer some of the questions posted
1. She was born in 1945, not 1940.
2. She did go to Italy and became famous over there first, I can remember us being chased down the streets by fans.
3. Her first actual appearance on film was a walk on role in "Guess who's coming to Dinner", uncredited, at the airport, in 2 spots. Sidnet Poitier connected her with people in italy.
4. She did not do any other italian westerns besides the "Big silence".
5. Both of our parents are Black, all of our Grandparents are black.
6. Yes her first name really is Lawrence, my mother's sense of humor I guess.
7. She stopped acting to raise their son.
Thank You All