Madge Dorita Sinclair (née Walters; April 28, 1938 – December 20, 1995) was a Jamaican-born American actress, best known for her roles in Cornbread, Earl and Me (1975), Coming to America (1988), Trapper John, M.D. (1980–1986), and the ABC TV miniseries Roots (1977). Sinclair also voiced the character of Sarabi, Mufasa's wife and Simba's mother, in the animated feature film The Lion King. Sinclair won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress - Drama Series for her role as Empress Josephine in Gabriel's Fire in 1991.
Sinclair in 1979
April 28, 1938
|Died||December 20, 1995 (aged 57)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Known for||Leona Hamilton – Cornbread, Earl and Me|
Belle Reynolds – Roots
Queen Aoleon – Coming to America
Voice of Sarabi - The Lion King
(m. 1956; div. 1969)
Dean Compton (m. 1982–1995)
Born Madge Dorita Walters in Kingston, Jamaica to Jamaican parents Herbert and Jemima Walters, Sinclair studied at Shortwood College for Women. After completing her studies, Sinclair worked as a teacher in Jamaica until 1966 when she left for New York to pursue her career in acting. Sinclair began acting with the New York Shakespearean Festival and at Joseph Papp's Public Theatre.
Following Roots, she starred in the 1978 film Convoy as the Widow Woman, and she played Leona Hamiltons in Cornbread, Earl and Me. Sinclair received an Emmy Award nomination for her role as Belle in the miniseries Roots. 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' 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 Queen and King for the roles of Sarabi, Simba’s mother, and Mufasa, Simba’s father, in the blockbuster Disney animated film The Lion King (1994), respectively. 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, 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. (Joanne Linville had appeared as a Romulan commander 18 years earlier.) 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.
Personal life and death
Sinclair was married to Royston Sinclair, a Jamaican police officer, from 1956 until 1969, and had two sons with him, Garry and Wayne Sinclair. In 1982, Sinclair married actor Dean Compton, whom she was still married to at the time of her death. Sinclair died on December 20, 1995 after a 13-year battle with leukemia. Her remains were cremated and her ashes were scattered in her hometown in Jamaica. She was awarded the Order of Distinction, Rank of Commander, by the prime minister of Jamaica.
|1972||The Witches of Salem: The Horror and the Hope||Tituba|
|1974||I Love You... Good-bye||Salesgirl|
|1974||Conrack||Mrs. Scott||Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture|
|1975||Cornbread, Earl and Me||Leona Hamilton|
|1976||I Will, I Will... for Now||Dr. Williams|
|1978||Uncle Joe Shannon||Margaret|
|1986||Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home||Saratoga Captain||Uncredited|
|1988||Coming to America||Queen Aoleon|
|1990||The End of Innocence||Nurse Bowlin|
|1994||The Lion King||Sarabi||Voice only|
|1975||Guess Who's Coming to Dinner||Sarah Prentiss|
|1978||One in a Million: The Ron LeFlore Story||Georgia LeFlore|
|1987||Look Away||Elizabeth Keckley|
|1972||Madigan||Boots||Episode: "The Midtown Beat"|
|1974||Medical Center||Arbiter||Episode: "Tainted Lady"|
|1974||The Waltons||Minnie Doze||Episode: "The Visitor"|
|1975||Joe Forrester||Sheila Gates||Episode: "Stake Out"|
|1975||Doctors' Hospital||N/A||Episode: "Come at Last to Love"|
|1976||Executive Suite||Judge Gillespie||Episode: "Who Shall Hall Bring Mercy"|
|1977||Roots||Bell Reynolds||3 episodes|
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
|1977||Serpico||Michelle||Episode: "One Long Tomorrow"|
|1978||ABC Afterschool Specials||Mrs. Bradsbury||Episode: "The Rag Tag Champs"|
|1979||The White Shadow||Louelia Judd||Episode: "Sudden Death"|
|1980–86||Trapper John, M.D.||Ernestine Shoop||129 episodes|
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (1983–85)
|1984||ABC Afterschool Specials||Miss Thomas||Episode: "Backwards: The Riddle of Dyslexia"|
|1987||Mathnet||Amelia Airliver||Episode: "Problem of the Trojan Hamburger"|
|1987||Ohara||Gussie Lemmons||11 episodes|
|1987||Starman||Lorraine Michaels||Episode: "The Test"|
|1989||Gideon Oliver||Angela Holmes||Episode: "By the Waters of Babylon"|
|1989||Roseanne||Muriel Johnston||Episode: "Guilt by Disassociation"|
|1989||Midnight Caller||Ida May||Episode: "Take Back the Streets"|
|1990–91||Gabriel's Fire||Empress Josephine||22 episodes|
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
Nominated—Viewers for Quality Television Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Quality Drama Series
|1991–92||Pros and Cons||Josephine Austin||12 episodes|
|1991||The Orchid House||Lally||4 episodes|
|1992||L.A. Law||Jessica Rollins||Episode: "Diet, Diet My Darling"|
|1992||Tales from the Crypt||Lucille||Episode: "Curiosity Killed"|
|1993||Alex Haley's Queen||Dora||Episode 3|
|1993||Star Trek: The Next Generation||Captain Silva La Forge||Episode: "Interface"|
|1994–95||Me and the Boys||Mary Tower||19 episodes|
|1995||Dream On||Mrs. Charles||Episode: "Little Orphan Eddie"|
- Encyclopedia of African American Actresses in Film and Television - Madge Sinclair -Bob McCann
- NNDB- Madge Sinclair
- Obituary - Madge Sinclair| The Independent
- Bourne, Stephen (3 January 1996). "Obituary: Madge Sinclair". The Independent. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
- JET Magazine - Madge Sinclair, Emmy -Award Winning Actress Succumbs at 57 - January 15, 1996
- "Los Angeles Times".
- Bogle, Donald (2001). Primetime Blues: African Americans on Network Television (First ed.). New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 0-374-23720-4.
- Madge Sinclair on IMDb
- Madge Sinclair at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Madge Sinclair at the TCM Movie Database
- Madge Sinclair at AllMovie
- Madge Sinclair at Rotten Tomatoes
- Madge Sinclair at Emmys.com