In honor of TCM and their “Summer Under the Stars” series, we launch our companion series, Summer Madness. The series will spotlight the achievements and films of one Black actor, daily throughout the month of August.
Diana Sands (August 22, 1934 – September 21, 1974) was an American actress, perhaps most famous for her portrayal of Beneatha Younger, the sister of Sidney Poitier’s character in the original stage and film versions of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun (1961). She also appeared in a number of dramatic television series in the 1960s and 1970s such as I Spy, as Davala Unawa in the 1967 The Fugitive episode “Dossier on a Diplomat”, Dr. Harrison in the Outer Limits episode “The Mice”, and Julia. Sands also starred in the 1963 film, An Affair of the Skin as the narrator and photographer, Janice.
A member of the Actors Studio, Sands’ performance in the Studio’s 1964 production of James Baldwin’s Blues for Mr. Charlie was a highlight of that show, and one which would be sorely missed during its subsequent London engagement when Sands had already committed to co-starring with Alan Alda in the original Broadway production of The Owl and the Pussycat (1964) for which she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. In 1970, Sands co-starred in the film, The Landlord, and then appeared in Doctors’ Wives and Georgia, Georgia.
In 1974 she starred in Willie Dynamite and Honeybaby, Honeybaby, and was set to star in the film Claudine with James Earl Jones. However, she was too ill to accept the role and it went to her friend Diahann Carroll. She was twice nominated for a Tony Award, and twice nominated for an Emmy Award as well. She died of leiomyosarcoma at aged 39. #SummerMadness #Sands
A Raisin in the Sun (’61)
An Affair of the Skin (’63)
The Landlord (’70)
Georgia, Georgia (’72)
Willie Dynamite (’74)