Josephine Mary Premice

Josephine Mary Premice

African American theater and television actress, singer and dancer
Date of Birth: 21.07.1926
Country: USA

  1. Biography of Josephine Mary Premice
  2. Theatrical Career
  3. Television Career
  4. Early Life
  5. Rise to Fame
  6. Personal Life

Biography of Josephine Mary Premice

Josephine Mary Premice, born on July 21, 1926, in Brooklyn, New York, USA, was an African-American actress, singer, and dancer in theater and television. She was also known as a vibrant representative of the musical style of calypso, devoting much of her time between filming to performances in nightclubs and successfully working with the label 'Virgin Records'.

Josephine Mary Premice

Theatrical Career

Premice was one of the leading theater actresses of the 1940s and 1950s, receiving two nominations for the prestigious Tony Award. She participated in numerous Broadway plays, including 'Blue Holiday', 'Jamaica', 'A Hand is on the Gate', and 'Bubbling Brown Sugar'. Her talent extended beyond the stage, as she also made a name for herself in the music industry with her unique representation of the calypso style.

Television Career

In addition to her theater work, Premice had notable roles in television series. She portrayed Maxine in 'The Jeffersons' and agreed to play Desiree Porter in 'A Different World'.

Early Life

Josephine Mary Premice was born into a family of Haitian immigrants who belonged to the aristocracy of their country. Her father, Lucas Premice, supposedly claimed the title of Count de Bodekin and fled Haiti with his wife after an unsuccessful attempt to overthrow the dictator. They settled in New York, where Lucas became a furrier. Despite the societal challenges faced by African-Americans at the time, Josephine and her sister Adele received education and grew up believing they were part of the elite. Josephine's passion for performing arts became evident in her childhood, and she convinced her parents to enroll her in dance lessons. She later studied under Martha Graham and Katherine Dunham.

Rise to Fame

At the age of 14, Premice directed a play called 'Jason and the Golden Fleece' at the Harlem Theatre. At 16, she secured a place in Katherine Dunham's dance troupe. However, her aristocratic father insisted that she be a solo star.

Premice achieved recognition as an exceptional dancer in 1943 when she performed at the First African Dance Festival in Carnegie Hall, with notable guest Eleanor Roosevelt in attendance. In 1945, she repeated her success at the Second African Dance Festival and embarked on a tour with blues singer Josh White.

Personal Life

Between 1957 and 1958, Premice performed in over 500 productions, including the highly popular musical 'Jamaica' at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway. It was during this production that she caught the eye of her future husband, Captain Timothy Fales. They eventually married on November 14, 1958, and had two children, Enrico (born in 1959) and Susan (born in 1962).

However, Premice struggled to regain her previous level of fame after a hiatus in her career. She received a second Tony Award nomination in 1966 for her role in the production 'A Hand is on the Gate'. In 1976, she returned to Broadway and participated in the play 'Bubbling Brown Sugar' for almost 800 performances.

After divorce proceedings that were never finalized, Premice faced financial struggles and neglected her health. She battled with eczema and ultimately passed away in Manhattan on April 13, 2001.