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Olivia Cole, Emmy Award–Winning ‘Roots’ Actress, Dead at 75

Actress Olvia Cole, who played Mathilda in Roots has passed away, she was 75.

Cole died last Friday at her home in San Miguel de Allende, a central Mexico city, said Linda Cooper, executive secretary of the 24 Horas de San Miguel de Allende cremation and burial group.

The cause of death was a heart attack, Cooper said Thursday.

Cole received an Emmy Award for her role in ABC’s smash hit 1977 drama based on African-American writer Alex Haley’s book “Roots,” which dramatized the lives of his ancestors from West Africa to slavery and post-Civil War.

She was the first African-American to win in the Emmy category of best supporting actress in a miniseries.

In the late 1970s, Cole reportedly lamented that Hollywood failed to respond to “Roots” with more opportunities for black actors and actresses. She wasn’t alone.

“You’d think somebody might have followed up with stories about other black families and experiences. Nobody followed up,” series executive producer David L. Wolper told The Associated Press in 2002, on the drama’s 25th anniversary.

Ben Vereen played Chicken George in the ensemble cast that also included LeVar Burton, Leslie Uggams, Cicely Tyson, Madge Sinclair and

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