Suzzanne Douglas, a veteran actress with four decades of stage and screen work to her credit, has died. She was 64.
The “When They See Us” star’s cause of death has not been confirmed, but Douglas revealed in January that “two life threatening cancers” had changed her life.
“Don’t let poor health interrupt your purpose,” she posted on Facebook at the time. “God’s mission and plan for our lives takes our being committed to our mind, body and soul.”
Her passing was confirmed by her family Tuesday night.
“Suzzanne Douglas a beautiful and talented actress made her transition today,” her cousin Angie Tee posted to Facebook. “She warmed our hearts on movie screens and television sets all over the world. This beautiful soul was my cousin.”
Douglas was born in Chicago and raised in public housing, along with three siblings, by her single mother, Essence reported. She developed a passion for the arts at a young age, and earned a bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University, as well as a master’s in music from the Manhattan School of Music.
She appeared on Broadway — in “Into the Woods,” “Threepenny Opera” and “The Tap Dance Kid” — throughout the 1980s before segueing into films and television full time.
Tee continued in her tribute, “I can remember growing up, there weren’t very many black actresses who had starring roles — but there was my cousin with the lead role in ‘Tap’ starring alongside great dancers such as Gregory Hines and Sammy Davis Jr.,” Tee said in her emotional social media homage. “She also performed with Angela Bassett and Whoopi Goldberg in ‘How Stella Got Her Groove Back,’ ‘The Inkwell,’ ‘Jason’s Lyric’ and so much more — the list goes on. The world will miss your talent but your soul will live on forever. Rest in Paradise my beautiful cousin [Suzzanne], you will be missed RIP.”
The actress was perhaps best known as matriarch Jerri Peterson on the WB sitcom “The Parent ‘Hood,” in which she starred opposite Robert Townsend, 64, from 1995–1999.
Douglas earned an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for 1989’s “Tap,” going on to star in a string of high-profile films including the 2003 hit “School of Rock.” In 2015, she portrayed gospel legend Cissy Houston in a Whitney Houston biopic — directed by her “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” co-star Angela Bassett — on the Lifetime network.
She also was a frequent guest star on top TV series, including “Bull,” “Bones,” “The Good Wife,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “NYPD Blue” and many more.
She most recently appeared in the acclaimed 2019 Netflix miniseries “When They See Us,” which earned two Emmy awards and 16 nominations.
Her friend Stephanie Perry Moore, a writer and TV producer, also paid homage on Facebook, writing: “I got to stand beside greatness. [Suzzanne] Douglas Cobb, I love you dear lady. Thanks for always checking on me and for showing me elegance and grace walking. I’ve got a heavy heart, but I’m blessed to be a part of the legacy you touched. I am better because I knew you.
“Heaven is richer.”
Douglas is survived by her husband, neuro-radiologist Roy Jonathan Cobb, and their daughter, Jordan.