Acclaimed screen, television and stage actress Suzzanne Douglas died July 6. We join with the community in mourning the loss of the multi-talented and elegant Ms. Douglas, who was a Maplewood resident and appeared at SOPAC many times in past years. Her four-decade career was a testament to her superb talent and versatility.
Ms. Douglas was perhaps best known for her portrayal of Jerri Peterson on WB’s sitcom The Parent ‘Hood’, though her roots were strong in live theatre. She was seen in the 1989 Broadway revival of Threepenny Opera with Sting, and the Tap Dance Kid. She was the first Black woman to play the lead role of Vivian Bearing in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Wit at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick. Television adaptations of Broadway hits Purlie with Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis, Jr. and Tap with Savion Glover showcased her musical skills. Ms. Douglas was also featured in the films Inkwell and Jason’s Lyric.
Ms. Douglas also appeared in the films How Stella Got Her Groove Back. (1998) and School of Rock (2003), the sitcom The Parkers and Whitney (2015), the made-for-TV Whitney Houston biopic directed by Angela Bassett, in which she played the singer Cissy Houston, Whitney’s mother.
One of her more recent endeavors was When They See Us, the award-winning 2019 mini-series directed by Ava DuVernay about the teenage boys known as the Central Park Five who were convicted of rape.
Hailing from Chicago, she earned a bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University and a master’s degree from Manhattan School of Music. Ms. Douglas’s awards and honors include a two-time Image Award winner, a Black Oscar, a Reel Award, and the Mary Martin Award.
She is survived by her husband Dr. Roy Jonathan Cobb and daughter Jordan Victoria Cobb. Our deepest condolences go out to her family and friends.
Pictured: Suzzanne Douglas performing at the 2016 SOPAC Gala.