Family & Companions
Dusky-voiced, elegantly beautiful leading lady of stage, screen and TV who frequently played doomed chanteuses or tragic mulattos. McKee made a highly praised film debut as the drug-addicted lead singer of a Supremes-like pop group in "Sparkle" (1976). She first appeared on Broadway as Rachel (Mrs. Jackie) Robinson in the short-lived musical "The First" (1981) and won a Tony nomination for her portrayal of Julie in the 1983 Houston Grand Opera revival of "Show Boat" (she was reportedly the first black actress to play that role in a major American production).
McKee also appeared opposite Richard Pryor in the comedies, "Which Way Is Up?" (1977) and "Brewster's Millions" (1985) and was featured in the Francis Ford Coppola films "The Cotton Club" (1984), as a torch singer and "Gardens of Stone" (1987). In one of her richest roles to date, she co-starred as Wesley Snipes' put-upon wife in Spike Lee's "Jungle Fever" (1991).
After a rough personal period, McKee recorded the pop album "Natural Love" (1992) which did respectable sales, and was once again cast as Julie in yet another revival of "Show Boat" (1994).
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Recorded first regional song, "Stop, Don't Worry About It" and album at age 14; quit school and moved to Los Angeles to live with sister, Kathy
Became a cast regular as a singer-dancer on the TV variety show, "The Wacky World of Jonathan Winters" at age 17 (date approximate)
Recorded a gospel-flavored pop album
Film debut, "Sparkle"
Broadway debut as Mrs. Jackie Robinson in the musical, "The First"
Played Julie in the Broadway revival of the landmark Jerome Kern-Oscar Hammerstein II musical, "Show Boat" (reportedly the first black actress to perform the role in a major American production)
Performed at the Ballroom cabaret in NYC
Made TV pilot, "Home Free"
Toured in "Sophisticated Ladies"
Played Lorraine in "The Women of Brewster Place"
Appeared in the film "Honey"
Cast in the Spike Lee comedy "She Hate Me"