50 Years Ago, They Received Hate Letters For Being In Love – Today, Their Interracial Marriage Is Still Going Strong.

LOVE transcends all ethnicity, race, gender, age, status and wealth. Love breaks all barriers. The love story of the celebrated Emmy Award winning actress, Leslie Uggams and Grahame Pratt upholds this theory. Their love defied the barrier of racism.

Leslie Uggams, is an iconic African – American actress and singer. The Harlem born singer and actress, Leslie Uggams has not only made a name for herself as an actress in movies but also as a stage artist. She became a household name after her role in the Deadpool series. There was no looking back for the talented Leslie Uggams. She has been in the show business for almost seven decades.

Leslie Uggams had an exemplary career. Her personal life is also not lless interesting.. Her marriage with a White Australian man Grahame Pratt in 1965, grabbed many eyeballs The reason being their rare high profile interracial marriage.

As a child, Leslie Uggams was an amazing singer. When she was barely 10 years old, she made a record for MGM. Her aunt, Eloise Uggams, a talented singer herself, backed young Leslie Uggams. Because of her encouragement, Leslie enrolled herself at the Professional Children’s School of New York and the esteemed New York music school Julliard.

There were many avenues open for the talented Leslie Uggams. In 1969, she premiered as a host on her own TV variety show “The Leslie Uggams Show” This show was the second variety series to feature an African – American host, the first since the 1956-57 “The Nat King Cole Show.”

Leslie Uggams met and fell in love with an Australian actor Grahame Pratt while on a tour in Australia. This was not the first time she had met him. They happened to meet each other for the first time at the Professional Children’s School of New York. They both were students of the school back then.

Leslie Uggams had fallen in love with Grahame Pratt at a time when racial segregation was a major factor. Young Leslie knew the outcome of having an affair with a white man. Even her aunt dissuaded her from getting into a relationship with a white man.

Leslie Uggams was very close to her aunt. She always looked up to her for guidance. When young Leslie showed her aunt Grahame Pratt’s coloured picture, her aunt reiterated her point of view not to marry a white man. She insisted that it was okay to date a white man but marriage should not be on cards.

Despite all the convincing and lecturing of her aunt, Leslie Uggams could not stop herself from seeing the handsome Grahame Pratt. For work commitments Leslie had to move to the US. But Leslie Uggams and Grahame Pratt were so much in love with each other that inspite of the opposition of Leslie’s family, they remained engaged for five months. Eventually, Grahame Pratt moved to New York.

Grahame Pratt adjusted well with Leslie’s friends. He was liked by all her friends. Finally, Leslie Uggams and Grahame Pratt got married in 1965. Leslie knew that this high profile interracial marriage would be a reason for hatred. But Grahame Pratt was an Australian white man and not an American white man. That’s the reason why this marriage did not have to face many hassles of interracial marriage.

However, Leslie did receive a mail in Detroit. It was mailed to the Club which read to “The Little Negro Entertainer”. The words in the mail disheartened Leslie. On her tour, she also received anonymous letters of hatred for her marrying a white man.

No letters or mails could dent the marriage of Leslie and Grahame. Grahame Pratt went on to become Leslie’s manager. They were blessed with two adorable children whom they named Danielle and Justice.

In 1977, Leslie grabbed the lead role in the miniseries “Roots”. She played the role of Kizzy which bagged her an Emmy nomination. Two years later, Leslie Ugamms starred in another acclaimed miniseries, “Backstairs at the White House”, in which she portrayed White House maid Lillian Rogers Parks. This role got herself a Best Actress nomination for Emmy Awards..

Leslie Uggams excelled in her 1983 “Daytime Emmy” winning role of the host of the family game show “Fantasy”. She also made her mark in shows like “The Love Boat” and “All My Children”.

What is remarkable about Leslie Uggams and Grahame Pratt is the fact that this couple managed to sail through the rough waters of racial segregation. Even after 55 years, they both are very much in love. They have aged beautifully together. They both are blessed with a granddaughter, Cassidy.

Like any other marriage, their journey as a couple was not always smooth. But what makes their marriage successful is the fact that they enjoyed each others’ companionship. They laughed all the time and had fun together, This kept them going.

“Falling in love is easy but Staying in love is hard.”

Leslie Uggams and Grahame Pratt managed to beat all odds. Their love story and commitment towards each other will inspire us forever. 

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