In Remembrance . . . Barbara McNair

6 02 2007

Barbara McNair, the beautiful singer and actress who co-starred with Sidney Poitier in two movies and hosted her own TV variety show in the late 1960s, has died, according to family. She was 72.

Ms. McNair died Sunday in Los Angeles after a battle with throat cancer, her sister Jacqueline Gaither said.

“She was very family oriented,” Gaither said. “She was more than just a star or a famous personality. She was a person of her own.”

For more than four decades the popular African-American entertainer dazzled audiences with her vocal prowess and exceptional beauty. She recorded on the Motown label, producing such relative hits as “You’re Gonna Love My Baby” and “Bobby.” In the late ‘60s, Ms. McNair began scouting acting roles, hoping to parlay her singing success into a movie career. The singer showed initial promise as a sexy lead alongside Raymond St. Jacques in the gritty crime drama, “If He Hollers, Let Him Go!,” (1968) in which her nude sequences made headlines. She wore a nun’s habit alongside Mary Tyler Moore in Elvis Presley’s last feature film, “Change of Habit” (1969), and appeared opposite Poitier as Virgil Tibbs’ wife in “They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!” (1970) and “The Organization” (1971), which were sequels to the Academy Award-winning film, “In the Heat of the Night.”

She made guest appearances on such ’60s and ‘70s shows as “The Mod Squad,” “The Jeffersons” and “The Redd Foxx Show.” In the mid-1980s, she had a recurring role as Aunt Bettina on “General Hospital.” At her zenith she hosted her own syndicated musical TV show “The Barbara McNair Show” (1969).



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