Daytime Mourns the Death of the First Black Actress Ever to Score a Contract Role — in So Doing, Paving the Way for So Many Soap Legends
Courtesy of the Everett Collection, ABC/Courtesy of the Everett Collection, Jill Johnson/JPI (2), Brian Lowe/JPI
On August 21, Micki Grant passed away at the age of 92.
If you’re a fan of Debbi Morgan (formerly Angie on All My Children), Victoria Rowell (ex-Drucilla, The Young and the Restless), Sal Stowers (Lani, Days of Our Lives) or Briana Nicole Henry (Jordan to General Hospital viewers) — for starters — you owe a debt of gratitude to Micki Grant. It was a long time ago that the erstwhile Minnie Perkins did soaps, so maybe you don’t remember her name now. But it was she who paved the way for so many of the leading ladies that came after her.
You see, Grant was the first Black actress ever to be cast in a contract role by a soap.
Back in 1965, Another World was looking for just the right person to play legal aide (and eventual attorney) Peggy Nolan. And the powers that be auditioned lots of white actresses for the part. Why not? The character was envisioned as white. But when Grant came in, she so wowed the brass that, according to a memoir by Ellen Holly (once One Life to Live’s Carla), Peggy was reimagined as African-American, and the rest is soap history.
Grant stayed with the NBC soap for seven years before passing through The Edge of Night, Guiding Light and All My Children. Outside of daytime, the three-time Tony nominee is not only well-known but revered for the 1972 musical revue Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope, which made her the first woman to write both the music and lyrics to a Broadway show.
Since we’ve lost not only a daytime but an Another World legend, join us, won’t you, in strolling down Memory Lane with photos of the much-missed NBC soap.