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Vonetta McGee remembered

Gail Choice | 7/21/2010, 5 p.m.

McGee's other films include "The Kremlin Letter" (1970); "Detroit 9000" (1973); and "Thomasine & Bushrod." In this 1974 film, she played opposite Max Julian ("The Mack") as the fictional counterpart of "Bonnie and Clyde." Directed by Gordon Parks Jr., the film takes place in New Mexico in 1911.

Perhaps her biggest break was when Clint Eastwood nabbed her for the 1975 action-thriller "The Eiger Sanction" which he directed and starred in. Never mind that her character name was Jemima Brown.

Actor Fred Williamson told the Los Angeles Times, "I was pleased to see her get a role with Clint Eastwood, not many Black actors had that opportunity to be in a movie where color doesn't matter."

In true Hollywood fashion, McGee met her future husband, actor Carl Lumbly on the set of the 1980s hit drama series "Cagney & Lacey," while starring in several episodes. "I still remember the first day she came on the set--it was August 21, 1984--and we were scheduled to do a bedroom scene," Lumbly reflected in a 1989 EBONY magazine profile on celebrity couples. "Later, when we left the set, I realized we were holding hands . . . we married two years later." The couple had a son, Brandon, in 1988.

Lawrence Vonetta McGee, named for her father, was born in San Francisco on Jan. 14, 1945.

While studying pre-law at San Francisco State College, she became involved in community theater. She left college to pursue an acting career.

McGee paved the way for many Black actresses daring to dream the Hollywood dream. This article does not include the full body of McGee's work. Check out YouTube and other sites for more on this outstanding woman. May her star shine brightly in the heavens.

Gail can be reached at gail@hollywoodbychoice.com.