Her death was confirmed by her friend Dorian Hannaway in a Facebook post Sunday. “My dear friend Armelia crossed over yesterday,” Hannaway wrote. “She leaves us cherishing her memory as she was one of the greatest friends you could ever have. The only thing bigger than her beautiful soul was her extraordinary talent. She gave us such joy in her many turns on the Broadway stage as well as her film and TV roles. She was brilliant in Ain’t Misbehavin’ and so many other shows.”
A cause of death has not been released, and information on survivors was not immediately available.
Born in North Carolina and raised in New York City, McQueen was in the original Off Broadway cast of Ain’t Misbehavin’ in 1978, and made her Broadway debut when the cabaret-style revue of Harlem Renaissance music transferred to Broadway’s Longacre Theatre later that year. The production, which also starred Charlayne Woodard, André De Shields, Ken Page and Nell Carter, won that year’s Tony Award for Best Musical.
On film, McQueen had roles in 1976’s Sparkle and several others before appearing as Clara Brown, sister of Goldberg’s Oda Mae Brown, in the hit movie Ghost. Subsequent film roles included 1998’s Bulworth and 1999’s Life.
McQueen had her most prolific career in television, starring as the Red Queen in Disney Channel’s 1990s series Adventures in Wonderland, and making appearances in Martin, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, All About the Andersons, That’s So Raven, JAG and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. She played the recurring role of Shula Whitaker in The CW’s 2011-15 series Hart of Dixie.
We've lost Armelia McQueen. A sad day.
— Harvey Fierstein (@HarveyFierstein) October 4, 2020
The Queen of Queens walked so my cast and I could run. We thank you forevermore for sharing your gift #ArmeliaMcQueen #RIP #BROADWAYBLACK #broadway #aintmisbehavin #blackexcellence 💔 pic.twitter.com/5Bpq6tgeaS
— Trenyce (@trenyce) October 4, 2020