Leslie Uggams, a renowned actress in both film and theater, has enjoyed a captivating and illustrious career.
While she gained considerable recognition for her role in the Deadpool series, Leslie’s accomplishments extend far beyond that. Hailing from Harlem, this talented singer and actress has successfully navigated the entertainment industry for an impressive seven decades.
Yet, behind the scenes, her personal life presents a tale worthy of its own cinematic narrative. In 1965, Leslie defied societal expectations and embarked on a love story for the ages by marrying Grahame Pratt, a white Australian man. Their interracial union shattered barriers and defied all odds.
Leslie’s remarkable journey began as a gifted singer at a tender age. At just ten years old, in 1953, she recorded a song for MGM. Encouraged by her aunt, the renowned singer Eloise Uggams, Leslie pursued her passion at the prestigious New York music school, Juilliard, after attending the Professional Children’s School of New York. However, her musical pursuits merely marked the beginning of a multifaceted odyssey.
By 1969, Leslie had her own television variety show, “The Leslie Uggams Show,” which made history as the first network variety show hosted by a black person since “The Nat King Cole Show.” Amidst her rising career, she crossed paths with actor Grahame Pratt, whom she had initially met during their time as students at the Professional Children’s School of New York. Their paths intertwined once again when Leslie performed in Sydney during one of her celebrity tours in Australia.
Despite apprehensions stemming from past experiences and familial advice, Leslie found herself deeply enamored with Grahame. She confessed, “I found myself really falling for him, which was quite a thing for me to realize as I was only 21.” When Leslie departed Australia, a year would pass before their reunion.
Love triumphed as Leslie and Grahame’s affection withstood the challenges that came their way. Leslie grappled with concerns about her family’s reaction and the implications their relationship held for both of them, as Grahame would need to relocate to the United States to support Leslie’s career. After a five-month engagement, Grahame visited Leslie in New York, where she sought assurance that her family would not merely tolerate him but genuinely accept him. Fortunately, Leslie’s worries were unfounded. Grahame’s Australian background brought a certain ease to the situation. He effortlessly integrated into Leslie’s social circle, endearing himself to her friends, both male and female.
In 1965, Leslie and Grahame exchanged vows, and although they encountered fewer racial challenges compared to the rest of the United States due to their residence in New York, the couple still faced hateful correspondence. Leslie revealed, “Sometimes when I go on tour through the States, I get anonymous letters about being married to a white man. I remember I got one in Detroit of all places. It came to the club addressed to ‘The Little Negro Entertainer.’ They’re always addressed something like that, and they’re not pleasant to read.”
Grahame eventually became Leslie’s manager, and the couple welcomed two children into their lives: Danielle in 1970 and Justice in 1976. In 1977, a year after their second child’s birth, Leslie landed the lead role in the miniseries “Roots,” earning an Emmy nomination for her portrayal of Kizzy. Two years later, she captivated audiences as Lillian Rogers Parks in the miniseries “Backstairs at the White House,” garnering another Emmy Award nomination for Best Actress. Throughout her career, Leslie made memorable guest appearances on various television programs, including “Family Guy,” “I Spy,” “Hollywood Squares,” “The Muppet Show,” “The Love Boat,” and “Magnum, P.I.”
Remarkably, Leslie and Grahame continue to share a profound love for each other, celebrating 55 years of marriage. Their enduring commitment, which has weathered the test of time, serves as an inspiration to all. Alongside their two children, they now delight in the presence of their granddaughter, Cassidy. When asked about the secret to their lasting union, Leslie simply stated, “We laugh all the time — but it ain’t always roses. We have fun together.”
This extraordinary love story of Leslie Uggams and Grahame Pratt reminds us that love knows no boundaries and that true devotion can withstand any obstacle. Their unwavering support for one another throughout the years serves as a testament to their profound bond. Let us share this beautiful tale with our friends and family so that they too can revel in the power of love.