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Carol Sutton, a Stage and Screen Actress Devoted to New Orleans, Dies at 76

Carol Sutton, a Stage and Screen Actress Devoted to New Orleans, Dies at 76
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Carol Sutton, a Stage and Screen Actress Devoted to New Orleans, Dies at 76

Carol Sutton, a Stage and Display Actress Dedicated to New Orleans, Dies at 76

This obituary is a part of a collection about individuals who have died within the coronavirus pandemic. Examine others right here.

Carol Sutton, an actress who was featured in movies like “Metal Magnolias,” “The Massive Simple” and “The Pelican Transient,” and who was dedicated to the theater group in her native New Orleans, the place she was a fixture on the town’s levels for a half-century, died on Thursday at Touro Infirmary there. She was 76.

The trigger was issues of Covid-19, her sister, Adrienne Jopes, stated.

As an actress, Ms. Sutton had an expansive oeuvre, bringing characters to life on the stage, within the films and on tv. However her many roles weren’t confined to performing: She additionally spent many years doing social work for Complete Group Motion, a company that assists low-income households to assist scale back poverty in New Orleans. And he or she was a beloved determine in her native theater scene — partly as a result of she by no means left.

“I by no means needed to go to L.A. or New York,” she informed her pal Tommye Myrick, a director, author and producer, in an interview final yr. “In these locations, there have been lots of of individuals making an attempt to do the identical issues I needed to do. If I needed to get onstage or get in a film, I used to be in a position to do this proper right here.”

LaToya Cantrell, the mayor of New Orleans, stated in an announcement on Friday that Ms. Sutton was “virtually the Queen of New Orleans theater, having graced the levels throughout the town for many years.” The actress was additionally lauded by luminaries within the worlds of movie and theater, together with Ava DuVernay, the award-winning author, producer and movie director.

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Buddies and family of Ms. Sutton’s stated she was deeply rooted within the Central Metropolis neighborhood of New Orleans, the place she grew up, and was not a lot altered by fame.

“She was not a celeb,” Ms. Myrick stated. “However she was handled as royalty, as a result of she was.”

Ms. Sutton devoted herself to serving to younger individuals, stated her sister, Ms. Jopes, 73. “She would take them below her wing and present them the way it was,” she stated. “She loved individuals, and she or he loved serving to individuals.”

Ms. Sutton was born Carol Joan Dickerson in New Orleans on Dec. 3, 1944. She was the oldest of three siblings. Her father, Amos Dickerson, was largely absent from her childhood. Her mom, Marguerite Bush, was a longtime group activist whose ardour for serving to others was a guiding gentle for Ms. Sutton.

Ms. Jopes stated that her sister was drawn to singing and performing from an early age. In highschool, she transferred to Xavier College Preparatory College to be nearer to a soccer participant she was courting, Archie Sutton.

She briefly attended Xavier College earlier than dropping out to marry Mr. Sutton, who would go on to play for the Minnesota Vikings. That they had two kids, however the couple later separated.

In her mid-20s, Ms. Sutton grew to become a member of the Dashiki Challenge Theater, a company for actors and playwrights that gathered within the auditorium of the St. Francis de Gross sales Catholic Church, on the nook of Second Avenue and Loyola Avenue.

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The group, which was shaped throughout the Black Arts Motion, fostered a group of artists and was the muse for Ms. Sutton’s performing profession, stated Adella Gautier, an actress who was additionally a part of the group and a detailed pal of Ms. Sutton’s.

“Quite a lot of authentic work got here out of that group, coping with the Black expertise and based mostly in a Black neighborhood,” Ms. Gautier, 72, stated. “It allowed individuals within the space to be uncovered to high quality creative experiences.”

About 5 years after becoming a member of the Dashiki Challenge Theater, Ms. Sutton was solid in her first tv movie, “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” which starred Cicely Tyson and was first broadcast in 1974. Ms. Sutton went on to seem in a number of function movies, together with “Metal Magnolias” in 1989, “Ray” in 2004, “The Assist” in 2011 and “Poms” final yr — all whereas performing in stage productions in New Orleans. Her many stage credit embody productions of “4000 Miles” and “A Raisin within the Solar,” and she or he appeared on tv reveals together with “Treme” and “Queen Sugar.”

Final yr, Ms. Sutton performed a household matriarch, Lena Youthful, in a manufacturing of “A Raisin within the Solar,” a play by Lorraine Hansberry, on the Ashe Energy Home Theater in New Orleans. In a evaluation, the critic Theodore P. Mahne of The Occasions-Picayune stated her efficiency was “crammed with grace notes” and referred to as Ms. Sutton “a real treasure of the stage.”

Ms. Sutton introduced adaptability, intelligence and dedication to every position, Ms. Gautier stated. “She was very giving as an actress,” she added. “In case you forgot a line, Carol Sutton would decide it up and maintain the present going.”

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And Ms. Sutton frequently lent her time, assist and recommendation to youthful actors and playwrights. One in every of them, Idella Johnson, a stage and movie actress, stated Ms. Sutton had been an inspirational power in her life. “Due to her love and her friendship and her mentorship, I really feel like there’s nothing that I can’t do,” Ms. Johnson stated.

Ms. Johnson performed a personality named Ava in “Driving Halley’s Comet,” a play she produced, in 2015. Ms. Sutton performed Ava’s mom. “This was the second after I grew to become her daughter,” Ms. Johnson stated. “If she performs your mother or your grandmother, she’s that for all times. She referred to as me Ava — ‘my darling Ava.’”

She added that Ms. Sutton was fearless and dedicated as an actress. “Typically vulnerability may be very laborious for individuals,” Ms. Johnson stated. “She was an individual who might take vulnerability and make it appear to be a superpower.”

Ms. Sutton is survived by her sister, Ms. Jopes; a daughter, Aunya Sutton; a son, Archie Sutton Jr.; a brother, Oris Buckner; and 5 grandchildren.

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