Judyann Elder

Judyann Elder

Judyann Elder (2015)
Born Judith Ann Johnson
(1948-08-18) August 18, 1948
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Alma mater Emerson College
Occupation Actress, director, writer
Years active 1968—present
Spouse(s) Lonne Elder III, 1969—1994 (divorced)
John Cothran, Jr., 1997—Present
Children Christian Elder,
Loni Elder
Parent(s) Camille Johnson,
Edward T. Johnson
Website http://www.judyannelder.com

Judyann Elder (born August 18, 1948) is an American actress, director, and writer. She is a veteran of stage and screen who has appeared in scores of theatrical productions throughout the United States and Europe. She is best known for her roles on the popular television shows Murphy Brown, Martin, and Family Matters.

Early life

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Elder is the daughter of Edward T. Johnson, PhD and Camille Russell Johnson. She attended Shaker Heights high school and graduated from Emerson College in Boston as the first recipient of the Carol Burnett Award in the Performing Arts.


Elder began her professional career in off-Broadway in New York as "Judyann Jonsson". A founding member and resident actor with the Tony Award-winning Negro Ensemble Company,[1][2] she originated roles in the premier productions of The Song of the Lusitanian Bogey, Daddy Goodness, Kongi's Harvest, and God is a (Guess What?).

In 1969 she played the role of Russell B. Parker’s young love interest in Lonne Elder III's Ceremonies in Dark Old Men and toured with the company to London and Rome. She married the play’s Pulitzer Prize nominated author early that same year, thus changing her name to Judyann Elder.[3]

Elder and her husband moved to Los Angeles soon after, where she broadened her career to include roles on screen. She made guest star roles in series such as The Streets of San Francisco, Sanford and Son, Wonder Woman, and The White Shadow.

In 1976, Elder made her Broadway debut at the Ambassador Theatre as Coretta King[4] opposite Billy Dee Williams in I Have a Dream[5] [6] directed by Robert Greenwald. She subsequently portrayed the role of Bernette Wilson in the television mini-series A Woman Called Moses starring Cicely Tyson. Several roles on him followed including Forget Paris with Billy Crystal, The Players Club directed by Ice Cube, and Seven Pounds with Will Smith.

It was in the 1991—92 season of TV’s Murphy Brown starring Candice Bergen, Elder made a mark portraying Murphy Brown’s obstetrician, Dr. Barton. Her recurring role culminated with the historic season finale where Dr. Barton delivered Murphy Brown's baby. She was cast as Gina's mother Nadine Water’s on Martin (1992—97)[7] starring Martin Lawrence. And in 1998 she replaced Jo Marie Payton[8] as Harriette Winslow in the last several episodes of the popular show Family Matters.

Elder has frequently returned to the stage and having last appeared at Arkansas Rep as Rose in August Wilson's Fences. She also has many theatre directorial credits including: The Book of the Crazy African (Skylight Theatre), The Meeting [9](Inner City Cultural Center, LA and New Federal Theatre, NY), Ceremonies in Dark Old Men [10](Beverly Canon Theatre), and A Private Act (Robey Theatre Company). Her direction of Matthew Lopez' The Whipping Man[11] starring Charlie Robinson at the Skirball Cultural Center for LA Theatre Works radio series was broadcast nationally in 2016.

Elder is an alumna of the American Film Institute's Directing Workshop for Women where she produced and directed the short film, Behind God's Back, based on an Alice Walker short story and starring Beau Bridges. She is also the recipient of a Screenwriting Fellowship with Walt Disney Studios.

In 2005, she was honored with an NAACP Trailblazer Award. She is also a 2010 recipient of a Distinguished Alumni Award from Emerson College.

Personal life

Elder is the mother of three children; a breast cancer survivor; and former legislative ambassador for the American Cancer Society. She resides in Los Angeles, California with her second husband actor, John Cothran Jr..



Year Title Role Notes
1972 Melinda Gloria
1973 Blume in Love Lulu
1978 A Woman Called Moses Bernette Wilson Television mini-series
1981 The Oklahoma City Dolls Helen Television movie
1982 In the Custody of Strangers Marni Blake, Prosecutor Television movie
1987 Right to Die Television movie
1989 Those She Left Behind Counselor Television movie
1995 Forget Paris Ivy
1997 Sweet Temptation Teak Television movie
1997 The Pest Mrs. Kent
1998 The Players Club Mrs. Armstrong
1998 Dead Man on Campus Guidance Counselor
2008 Seven Pounds Holly
2016 Viral Mrs. Toomey

As director


Year Title Role Notes
1968 N.Y.P.D. Barmaid Episode: "Deadly Circle of Violence"
1971 Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law Episode: "Nothing Personal"
1972 Sanford and Son Darlene Episode: "A Pad for Lamont"
1973 The Streets of San Francisco Vi Hoskin Episode: "No Badge for Benjy"
1978 Wonder Woman Marge Episode: "Light-fingered Lady"
1978 Lou Grant Mrs. Hatch Episode: "Babies"
1979 The White Shadow Dr. Chatton Episode: "Me?"
1982 Today's F.B.I. Episode: "Bank Job"
1982 Benson Patty Stiles Episode: "Quest for Retire"
1982 The Devlin Connection Episode: "Allison"
1984 The Yellow Rose Episode: "Land of the Free"
1984 Matt Houston Ann Hoyt Episode: Vanished"
1984 Webster Irene Chambers Episode: "Knock, Knock"
1985 V Mrs. Caniff Episode: "The Hero"
1985 St. Elsewhere Elodie Haber Episode: "Santa Clause is Dead"
1986 The Young and the Restless Karen Olsen 6 episodes
1988 Amen Sarah Crawford Episode: "The Minister's Wife"
1989 Hard Time on Planet Earth Mrs. Tillman Episode: "All That You Can Be"
1989 Paddington Bear Voice 13 episodes
1990 Star Trek: The Next Generation Lt. Ballard Episode: "The Offspring"
1990 Captain Planet and the Planeteers Voice
1990 Midnight Patrol: Adventures in the Dream Zone Voice 13 episodes
1991 Roc Pilot
1991—1992 Murphy Brown Dr. Barton 3 episodes
1992 The Powers That Be Estelle Episode: "How Sharper Than a Servant's Tooth"
1994 Beverly Hills, 90210 Nora Touissan Episode: "Hate Is Just a Four Letter Word"
1996 In the House Florence Episode: "To Die For"
1992—1997 Martin Nadine Waters 6 episodes
1997 The Steve Harvey Show Ms. Crabtree Episode: " I'm Not a Chauvinist, Piggy"
1998 Home Improvement Diane Peck Episode: "From Top to Bottom"
1994—1998 Family Matters Harriette Winslow / Sister Bernadette 10 episodes
1996—1999 Mad About You Nurse Lily 4 episodes
2001 Family Law Judge Episode: "The Quality of Mercy"
2001 Becker Judge Miriam Reinhold 2 episodes
2002 First Monday Darla Collins Episode: "Court Date"
2003 Wanda at Large Mrs. Hawkins Episode: "Alma Mater"
2004 That's So Raven Nana Loretta Episode: "Leave It to Diva"
2005 ER Debra Graham Episode: "Refusal of Care"
2005 Blind Justice Judy Dwyer Episode: "In Your Face"
2006 NCIS Marny Mathers Episode: "Escaped"
2007 Desperate Housewives Dr. Brody Episode: "Gossip"
2008 Cold Case Cecilia Episode: "Sabotage"
2011 Love That Girl! Phyliss Episode: "Break of Dawn"
2014 Castle Melinda Parish Episode: "Bad Santa"
2012—2015 Family Time Beverly Stallworth 9 episodes
2016 Grey’s Anatomy Angelica Polson Episode: "You’re Gonna Need Someone on Your Side"


External links

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