Actress Lynne Thigpen, Tony Winner for An American Daughter, Dead at 54

Obituaries   Actress Lynne Thigpen, Tony Winner for An American Daughter, Dead at 54 Lynne Thigpen, the respected actress with the rich, strong voice who won a Tony Award for An American Daughter on Broadway, died suddenly March 12, in her Los Angeles home.
Lynne Thigpen in An American Daughter.
Lynne Thigpen in An American Daughter. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Ms. Thigpen, 54, was widely known for starring in CBS TV's drama, "The District," and the PBS educational series, "Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?" and "Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego?" Theatre audiences knew her for her confident work in Tintypes, for which she was Tony Award nominated as Best Featured Actress (Musical) in 1981 and for roles in regional theatre and beyond.

Ms. Thigpen died suddenly at her home Wednesday night, CBS said.

In "The District," the actress played Ella Farmer, a statistics clerk who aided Washington, DC's chief of police.

Lynne Thigpen was born in Joliet, IL, and would appear in a handful of Broadway productions, culminating in her Tony win for playing Dr. Judith Kaufman, the black and Jewish best friend to the title character in An American Daughter (1997). In the character and plot-rich play, she attempts suicide in a river, only to later enter the stage soaking wet. Her performance was widely perceived as one of the strongest aspects of the short-lived production.She took home the Tony for Best Featured Actress (Play). Ms. Thigpen also played the role in the 2000 TV movie.

Other Broadway appearances include Fences, Working, The Magic Show, A Month of Sundays, But Never Jam Today and The Night That Made America Famous.

In 1999, she appeared in Second Stage's Jar the Floor, Off-Broadway, for which she won her second Obie Award (the first was for Boesman and Lena). Regionally she appeared in Having Our Say, Fences, Educating Rita and St. Mark's Gospel.

Larry Aronson was her life long-partner. Survivors include a sister, Mittcheleana (Charles) Meade, and one neice, Shelly Meade, and one nephew, Shawn Meade. She was born to Celia and George Thigpen of Joliet.  She is a almuna of the University of Illinois, according to a family member.