Can You Imagine Receiving Hate Letters for Being in Love? Look at That Couple 50 Years Later and See What ‘Damage’ Those Letters Have Done to Them

Leslie Uggams, a gifted performer born in Harlem, has enjoyed a remarkable career spanning an impressive seven decades. While she is perhaps most recognized for her role in the Deadpool series, her personal life narrative could rival any Hollywood script.

Leslie’s journey into the world of entertainment began at a tender age when, at the mere age of ten, she recorded a record for MGM. Encouraged by her aunt, the renowned singer Eloise Uggams, Leslie pursued her artistic passions. She attended New York’s Professional Children’s School and the prestigious Juilliard School of Music.

However, her musical talents were just the inception of her remarkable odyssey. In 1969, Leslie etched her name into history by hosting her very own TV variety show, “The Leslie Uggams Show.” This momentous achievement marked the first network variety show hosted by an African American since “The Nat King Cole Show.”

Behind the scenes, Leslie’s life took an unexpected turn when she crossed paths with actor Grahame Pratt. Their initial encounter occurred at the Professional Children’s School, where both were students. Fate, it seems, had more in store for them, as they serendipitously reconnected while Leslie was performing in Sydney during one of her celebrity tours in Australia.

However, Leslie’s love story with Grahame was not without its share of obstacles. Having experienced the scrutiny of dating a white man during her youth, she was acutely aware of the prejudices that could rear their heads. Her aunt had offered her caution against pursuing a future with a white partner.

“I recall the surprise I experienced when I dated a white young man,” Leslie recounted in a 1967 interview with Ebony. “He sent me a photograph of himself in color. I displayed it to my aunt. He was an attractive young man with beautiful hair. I thought he was stunning. Yet, my aunt took one look and commenced lecturing me. ‘Well, he’s acceptable, I suppose,’ she advised, ‘but only for dates, dear. When you contemplate settling down for the long haul, you’ll ensure marrying a respectable [Black] gentleman, won’t you?’”

Despite these reservations, Leslie found herself falling deeply in love with Grahame. She was only 21 at the time, and their connection was indisputable.

Their love story endured even when Leslie returned to the United States, leaving a 12-month gap before they could reunite. They became engaged, and Grahame paid a visit to Leslie in New York. Leslie desired assurance regarding her family’s acceptance of their relationship, given their views on mixed marriages.

Fortunately, Grahame’s Australian background facilitated a smoother path. He lacked the self-consciousness that a white American might bear in such a situation. He effortlessly connected with Leslie’s friends, who genuinely held him in high regard. The couple faced challenges, including hate mail, but their love triumphed.

“It was not as challenging as I had anticipated,” Leslie reflected in an interview. “I believe the reason is that Grahame was not an American white man. Nevertheless, we did receive correspondence. Sometimes, while touring the United States, I receive anonymous letters concerning my marriage to a white man.”

Leslie and Grahame exchanged vows in 1965. Although they resided in New York and were not confronted with the same magnitude of racial issues affecting the rest of the United States, they still encountered hate mail.

Their union also brought forth professional collaboration, with Grahame taking on the role of Leslie’s manager. Together, they built a family, welcoming two children, Danielle in 1970 and son Justice in 1976.

Leslie’s career continued to flourish, and in 1977, she secured the lead role in the miniseries “Roots,” garnering an Emmy nomination for her portrayal of Kizzy. Two years later, she portrayed Lillian Rogers Parks in “Backstairs at the White House,” a role that earned her an Emmy Award nomination for Best Actress.

Leslie’s diverse career included guest appearances on popular television programs such as “Family Guy” (as herself), “I Spy,” “Hollywood Squares,” “The Muppet Show,” “The Love Boat,” and “Magnum, P.I.”

As of today, Leslie and Grahame have celebrated 55 years together, their love as strong as ever. In addition to their two children, they are also proud grandparents to a granddaughter named Cassidy.

The enduring love story between Leslie Uggams and Grahame Pratt stands as a testament to their resilience and unwavering commitment. They have navigated the challenges of life together, always finding joy and laughter in each other’s company. Their tale serves as an inspiration, reminding us that love can conquer all obstacles and endure the test of time.

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Can You Imagine Receiving Hate Letters for Being in Love? Look at That Couple 50 Years Later and See What ‘Damage’ Those Letters Have Done to Them
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