After tying the knot, they were inundated with hate mail, but even after 55 years, their bond remains unshakeable.

Leslie Uggams has enjoyed a captivating career, gracing both the silver screen and the stage.

While she’s perhaps most recognized for her role in the Deadpool series, this Harlem-born singer and actress boasts a successful journey spanning an impressive seven decades.

However, beyond the spotlight, her personal life could easily be the plot of a movie. In 1965, she exchanged vows with Grahame Pratt, a White Australian man, defying the odds of interracial love with their enduring affection throughout the years.

Leslie’s musical talents were evident early on; at the tender age of 10 in 1953, she recorded for MGM. Under the guidance of her aunt, singer Eloise Uggams, she attended the Professional Children’s School of New York and the esteemed New York music school, Juilliard.

But her musical career was only the start of her journey and by 1969 she had her own TV variety show “The Leslie Uggams Show”, the first network variety show to be hosted by a black person since “The Nat King Cole Show.”

But behind the scenes she had met and fallen in love with actor Grahame Pratt. After first meeting him at Professional Children’s School of New York, where they were both students, the couple then ran into each other while she was performing in Sydney during one of Leslie’s celebrity tours in Australia.

Leslie knew what the repercussions would be of dating a white man as she’d done so in her teens and her aunt had told her not to entertain the idea of a future with him.

“I remember the shock I got once when I was dating a white boy,” Leslie said in a 1967 interview with Ebony.

“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 took 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?’”

After her chance meeting with Grahame Leslie said she kept seeing him.

“I found myself really falling for him, which was quite a thing for me to realize as I was only 21.”

Leslie Uggams and her husband Grahame Pratt at the “Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing: How The Apollo Theater Shaped American Entertainment” reception at the Museum of the City of New York on February 7, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Shahar Azran/WireImage)

When she left Australia it would be 12 months before she saw him again.

The two had fallen in love, despite Leslie’s reservations over her family’s reaction and what it would mean for the two of them as Grahame would have to move to the U.S. for Leslie’s career. They got engaged for 5 months and Grahame visited her in New York.

 

 

Knowing my family’s ideas about mixed marriages I wanted to know, too, whether they would really accept Grahame and not just tolerate him,” she said.

But Leslie had nothing to worry about as for Grahame being Australian had its advantages.

Leslie Uggums with Australian husband Graham Pratt and 4 year old Daughter Danielle. February 01, 1975. (Photo by Antony Matheus Linsen/Fairfax Media via Getty Images).

‘But of course we did get mail’

“He had none of the self-consciousness about the situation that a white American often has. He fitted in easily with all my friends…just because he liked them. And they certainly liked him, both the men and the girls.”

The two got married in 1965 and although didn’t encounter many of the racial issues that the rest of the U.S. was experiencing living in New York, Leslie said she still received hate mail over their union.

“It was not as hard as I expected it to be,” Leslie said of her marriage in an interview with PEOPLE. “I think the reason is that Grahame was not an American white man. But of course we did get mail.

“Sometimes when I go on tour through the States I get anonymous letters about being married to a white man,” Leslie revealed. “I remember I got one in Detroit of all places. It came to the club addressed to ‘The Little Negro Entertainer.’ They’re always addressed something like that and they’re not pleasant to read.”

Grahame became Leslie’s manager and the couple had two children Danielle, born in 1970, and son Justice, born in 1976.

Leslie Uggams and husband Graham Pratt during Broadway’s Plymouth and Royale Renamed as The Schoenfeld Theater and The Jacobs Theater at 45th Street – The Theater District in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic)

By 1977, one year after their second child was born, Leslie had landed the lead role in the miniseries “Roots”, a part she received an Emmy nomination for her role as Kizzy.

Two years later she starred as Lillian Rogers Parks in “Backstairs at the White House”, a miniseries for which she was nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Actress.

In 1996, she played the role of Rose Keefer on “All My Children” and in 1983 she received a Daytime Emmy Award as a host of the NBC game show “Fantasy.”

She also made guest appearances television programs such as “Family Guy” (as herself), “I Spy”, “Hollywood Squares”, “The Muppet Show”, “The Love Boat” and “Magnum, P.I..”

Leslie and Grahame are still together and very much in love 55 years later and as well as having two children they also have granddaughter Cassidy.

And the secret to their happy union – Leslie said, “We laugh all the time — but it ain’t always roses. We have fun together.”

https://youtube.com/watch?v=o_DSmFLnrXs%3Ffeature%3Doembed

The love these two have for each other has defied all odds and has stood the test of time. They are clearly devoted to each other and have supported each other throughout the years, they are an inspiration.

Please share with your friends and family so they too can read this beautiful love story.

Credit: knter

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