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Madge Dorita Sinclair (née Walters; 1938 – 1995) was a Jamaican-born American actress best known for her appearances in Cornbread, Earl and Me (1975). Trapper John, M.D. (1998) (1980–1986), and the ABC TV miniseries Roots (1977).
In the animated film The Lion King, Sinclair also portrayed Sarabi, Mufasa's wife and Simba's mother.
Sinclair received the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress - Drama Series for her role as Empress Josephine in Gabriel's Fire in 1991.
Early life and education
Madge Dorita Walters, a born in Kingston, Jamaica, is the daughter of Jamaican President Herbert and Jemima Walters of Shortwood College for Women. After completing her education, she worked as a tutor in Jamaica until 1966, when she moved to New York to pursue her acting career. Sinclair debuted with Joseph Papp's Public Theatre in New York. In the New York Shakespearean Festival performance of The Wedding of Iphigenia in 1971, she portrayed Clytemnestra.
Personal life and death
Sinclair was married to Royston Sinclair, a Jamaican police officer from 1956 to 1969, and he had two sons with him, Garry and Wayne Sinclair. Dean Compton, a Sinclair actor who was still married at the time of her death, died in 1982. Sinclair died on December 20, 1995, after a 13-year struggle with leukemia. Her remains were cremated and her ashes were scattered in her hometown in Jamaica. The prime minister of Jamaica gave her the Order of Distinction, the rank of Commander.
Sinclair made her film debut as Mrs. Scott in Conrack (1974) opposite Jon Voight; a role which earned her a nomination for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture. Her next major critical success was as Bell in the 1977 ABC mini-series Roots for which she received her first nomination for a Primetime Emmy Award.
Following Roots, she starred in the 1978 film Convoy as the Widow Woman, and she played Leona Hamilton in Cornbread, Earl and Me. Also in 1978, she co-starred in the short-lived sitcom Grandpa Goes to Washington. Sinclair went on to a long-running stint in the 1980s as nurse Ernestine Shoop on the series Trapper John, M.D. opposite Pernell Roberts. She received three Emmy nominations for her work on the show, and critic Donald Bogle praised her for "maintaining her composure and assurance no matter what the script imposed on her". In 1988, Sinclair played Queen Aoleon alongside James Earl Jones's King Jaffe Joffer in the Eddie Murphy comedy Coming to America, which reunited her on screen with her Roots husband and co-star John Amos. Later, both Sinclair and Jones would reunite as the queen and king, respectively, for the roles of Sarabi and Mufasa, Simba’s parents, in the blockbuster Disney animated film The Lion King (1994). The film became one of the best-selling titles ever on home video. It would also be her last film role. The two also collaborated on the series Gabriel's Fire, which earned Sinclair an Emmy in 1991 for Best Supporting Actress in a Dramatic Series, famously beating out the expected winner, L.A. Law's Diana Muldaur.
Sinclair played the role of Lally in the 1991 Channel 4 television miniseries The Orchid House (based on Phyllis Shand Allfrey's novel of the same name), directed by Horace Ové, and also received critical praise for her supporting role in the 1992 television movie Jonathan: The Boy Nobody Wanted with JoBeth Williams. In 1993, Sinclair came to London to appear on stage at the Cochrane Theatre in The Lion, by Michael Abbensetts and directed by Horace Ové, for the Talawa Theatre Company. In 1994, she played a supporting role in the short-lived ABC-TV sitcom Me and the Boys, which starred Steve Harvey. Sinclair, in her brief role as the captain of the USS Saratoga in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, is commonly cited as the first female Starfleet starship captain to appear in Star Trek. Years later, Sinclair played Geordi La Forge's mother, captain of the USS Hera, in Star Trek: The Next Generation's "Interface". Her final acting role was in an episode of the sitcom Dream On, which first aired one month before her death.