Actress Lynne Thigpen dies at 54

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LOS ANGELES, March 13 (UPI) -- Tony Award-winning actress Lynne Thigpen, a star of the CBS drama "The District," has died at her Los Angeles home, the network said Thursday. She was 54.

Thigpen had been in good health, according to a network publicist, and died suddenly Wednesday night of unknown causes.


The network said production was suspended Thursday on "The District," in which Thigpen played Ella Farmer -- the secretary of Washington, D.C. police chief, played by Emmy-winning actor Craig T. Nelson.

"I'm in shock," said Nelson in a statement. "She was a wonderful actress and a friend."

Thigpen was born Lynne Richmond on Dec. 22, 1948, in Joliet, Ill. In a career of more than three decades, she demonstrated a versatility that allowed her to flourish in movies, on TV and on the stage.

In 1992, Essence magazine called Thigpen "the busiest Black Actress around."

She won the Tony Award in 1997 for her performance as Dr. Judith Kaufman in "An American Daughter." She reprised the role in a 2000 TV production of Wendy Wasserstein's political comedy.

Thigpen was nominated for a Tony in 1981 for her performance in the musical "Tintypes." She was a two-time Obie Award winner -- for her performances in "Jar the Floor" (1999) and "Boesman and Lena" (1991).


One of Thigpen's earliest screen credits was the 1973 movie adaptation of the musical "Godspell." She went on to appear in such Hollywood hits as "Tootsie" (1982), "Lean on Me" (1989), "The Paper" (1994) and "The Insider" (1999). She co-stars with Adam Sandler and Jack Nicholson in the upcoming comedy "Anger Management."

Thigpen was a frequent guest-star on such Emmy-winning series as "Law & Order," "L.A. Law," "The Cosby Show" and 'thirtysomething."

She played Judge Ida Boucher in several episodes of "Law & Order." She was a semi-regular on "L.A. Law," playing prosecutor Ruby Thomas. She also guest-starred on several episodes of the 1980s comedy "Gimme a Break!"

In 1989, Thigpen was a regular on the comedy series "FM," starring Robert Hayes ("Airplane!") and Patricia Richardson ("Home Improvement.") She was also a regular on the Tony Randall series "Love, Sydney," and the short-lived 1983 topical comedy show "The News Is the News."

Children's television viewers knew her as The Chief on "Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?" and "Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego?" She was also a member of the voice cast of the public television kids' show "Bear in the Big Blue House."


Thigpen was also familiar to viewers of daytime drama, playing Flora Baxter and Grace "Aunt Grace" Keefer in two different stints on "All My Children."

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