Actress Leslie Uggams's marriage to her longtime manager Grahame Pratt has defied all odds.
Leslie Uggams is probably best known for her role in the Deadpool films as Ryan Reynold's character's no-nonsense roommate Blind Al. But not many know of her incredible love story. The 78-year-old has been married to Grahame Pratt, 84, since 1965. Their romance has defied all odds including prejudice, hate and racism. According to Goalcoast, in a 1967 interview with Ebony, the actress recalled how she was expected to marry a Black man. “I remember the shock I got once when I was dating a White boy. He sent me a color picture of himself. I showed it to my aunt. He was a good-looking boy with beautiful hair. I thought he was gorgeous. But my aunt to one look and started in to lecture me. ‘Well he’s alright, I suppose,” she told me, “but only for dates, huh, honey? When you’re thinking of settling down for keeps you’ll make sure you marry a nice [Black] fella, won’t you?'”
Lesley Uggams with her husband, Grahame Pratt on their wedding day in 1965. pic.twitter.com/NWZc1jTRvs— I Have A Nerdy Mind #Blacklivesmatter (@blaksheepno1) July 31, 2020
But Uggams followed her heart. She ended up falling in love with an Australian man who was White. Grahame Pratt became her longtime manager while on tour in Australia and the two ended up tying the knot and have been together for over 50 years. “He’s smart and witty and fearless,” she told PEOPLE. By the time the two had met Uggams was a star. She became the first Black woman featured on a weekly national prime-time series and had won much acclaim for her performances including a Tony award for her debut Broadway performance, and a run on NBC’s Sing Along with Mitch. "All of a sudden I couldn’t go anywhere because people would recognize me,” she admitted.
Their interracial love story which was not as common back in the day did ruffle some feathers. “It was not as hard as I expected it to be,” Uggams said. “I think the reason is that Grahame was not an American white man. But of course, we did get mail.” The actress was a lot more aware of the stigma and public perception of interracial relationships in the US. "I believed he loved me and wanted to marry me, but at the same time I felt he might also have welcomed a way out of our love, if that were possible. I mean it is a tremendous responsibility to take on a mixed marriage like ours,” Leslie said as per Goalcoast. She was worried if her family would accept someone so different. “Knowing my family’s ideas about mixed marriages I wanted to know, too, whether they would really accept Graham and not just tolerate him,” she said. But as fate would have it, they liked him just as much. "You can imagine how I felt, after they got to know one another, my father told me he couldn’t hope for a better son-in-law." She added, “I just want my children to be happy as we both are…Then they’ll have everything that is worth living for." The couple are now parents to Danielle, 51, and son Justice, 45, and grandparents of Cassidy, 10, who hopes to be an actress someday. What's secret to their long-lasting romance? Leslie said, “We laugh all the time — but it ain’t always roses. We have fun together.”