Madge Dorita Sinclair, the Jamaican teacher who made it big as Queen Aoleon and Simba’s mother

Michael Eli Dokosi Jul 13, 2020 at 04:00pm

July 13, 2020 at 04:00 pm | Faces of Black Excellence, History, Women of Value

Michael Eli Dokosi

Michael Eli Dokosi | Staff Writer

July 13, 2020 at 04:00 pm | Faces of Black Excellence, History, Women of Value

Madge Dorita Sinclair via Pinterest

Although Madge Sinclair was born in Kingston, Jamaica, she shot to fame in America. Born Madge Dorita Walters on April 28, 1938, she worked as a teacher in Jamaica until she was 30. She was married to Royston Sinclair, a Jamaican police officer from 1956 until 1969.

In 1968, she left her two boys – Garry and Wayne Sinclair – with their father and moved to New York City to be an actress.

In America, she started out as a model, later acting with the New York Shakespearean Festival and at Joseph Papp’s Public Theatre. “In 1974, Madge made her film debut, playing Mrs. Scott in Conrack (1974). She was nominated for an Emmy Award for her performance as Bell Reynolds in the ABC TV miniseries Roots (1977).”

By 1982, she had joined the cast of Trapper John, M.D. (1979). That same year, Sinclair was diagnosed with leukemia and although she was told she had limited time to live, she defied doctors’ predictions by several years. She also married her second husband, actor Dean Compton in the year.

In 1988, Sinclair played Queen Aoleon alongside King Jaffe Joffer (James Earl Jones) in the Eddie Murphy comedy “Coming to America.” She paired with James Earl Jones again in the Disney animated film “The Lion King (1994),” in which she played Mufasa’s wife and Simba’s mother, Sarabi.

A five-time Emmy Award-nominee, Sinclair won for her work in her critically acclaimed role as Empress Josephine in “Gabriel’s Fire,” which ran on ABC from 1990 to 1992.

He other works include Cornbread, Earl and Me (1975), and as Widow Womanin Convoy (1978).

“She appeared as the unnamed captain of the USS Saratoga in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), marking the first appearance, in any Star Trek series or movie, of a female starship captain. She later guest starred on Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) as Captain Silva La Forge, the mother of Geordi La Forge.”

Although Madge Dorita Walters-Sinclair prevailed against leukemia for 13 years, the disease had the last laugh on December 20, 1995, when she died aged 57 in Los Angeles, California. She was cremated and her ashes were scattered in her home town of Jamaica.

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