Stage and Screen Star Armelia McQueen Dies at 68

Obituaries   Stage and Screen Star Armelia McQueen Dies at 68
 
The performer appeared in both the original and revival Broadway productions of Ain’t Misbehavin’.
Armelia McQueen_Obit Graphic_HR

Armelia McQueen, an actor with memorable turns on both stage and screen, died October 3. Her death at the age of 68 was confirmed by friend Dorian Hannaway.

After studying design at the Fashion Industry School, she studied drama at the Herbert Berghof-founded HB Studio. One of her early performing credits was Manhattan Theatre Club’s 1978 Off-Broadway cabaret presentation of Ain’t Misbehavin, the musical revue directed by co-creator Richard Maltby Jr. that paid tribute to Black musicians of the Harlem Renaissance.

Armelia McQueen in <i>Ain&#39;t Misbehavin&#39;</i>
Armelia McQueen in Ain't Misbehavin' Martha Swope/©NYPL for the Performing Arts

The production transferred to Broadway’s Longacre Theatre a few months later, with Ms. McQueen reprising her performance alongside co-stars Nell Carter, André DeShields, and Ken Page (the four were joined by Charlayne Woodard, who replaced a pre-Fame Irene Cara). Carter and Ms. McQueen both received Theatre World Awards for their breakout performances. Cara joined the other four for an NBC broadcast of the musical in 1982, and the Broadway cast would go on to appear in the 1988 revival as well.

In between the two productions of the revue, Ms. McQueen appeared on Broadway in Harrigan ‘N Hart with a company that included Harry Groener, Mark Hamill, and Christine Ebersole.

On screen, Ms. McQueen is remembered for playing the sister of Oda Mae (Whoopi Goldberg) in Ghost, as well as playing the Red Queen in the ‘90s children’s series Adventures in Wonderland. More recently, she played Shula Whitaker on The CW’s Hart of Dixie.