Vonetta McGee – Rest in Peace

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of actress Vonetta McGee at the age of 65. McGee rose to fame in the late 1960s, and came into her own during the 1970s after appearing in some of the best blaxploitation films of the era. She had memorable roles in such classic films as Melinda (one of the best blaxploitation films of all time), Blacula, Shaft in Africa, Detroit 9000, and Brothers, where she gave an Oscar-worthy performance as a thinly-veiled Angela Davis. The role of Cleopatra Jones was originally written for McGee by Max Julien. McGee and Julien were a celebrated couple during the 1970s, and appeared together in Thomasine and Bushrod, a western written by Julien (the image above is of McGee and Julien in Thomasine and Bushrod).  Many people remember her for her role in Clint Eastwood’s film The Eiger Sanction, or her memorable performance in Alex Cox’s Repo Man, and die hard spaghetti western fans know her from Sergio Corbucci’s The Great Silence (one of the greatest entries of the genre). In 1986 she married actor Carl Lumbly, and they were together until her passing last week. Along with actresses like Gloria Hendry, Pam Grier and Rosalind Cash, Vonetta McGee helped usher in a new era of how black women were portrayed in film.  McGee was a talented actress whose contributions to the world of film and television will live on through her impressive body of work. May she rest in peace.

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