Lola Falana


  1. Catherina Von Schell, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, 1968
  2. Teresa Graves, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, TV,  1969-71. Many tested, few passed as  what became known as The Sock It To Me Girl in Dan Rowan and Dick Martin’s rapid fire  comedy show.
  3. Diana Ross, Lady Sings The Blues, 1972. Obvious first choice for the Billie Holiday bio was Dorothy Dandridge.  After her 1965 death, a battle royale began: Lola, Diahann Carroll, Cicely Tyson. Ross out-muscled them all by insisting that her Motown boss (and lover) Berry Gordy make it happen. 
  4. Margaret Avery, The Colour Purple, 1985.    It was inevitable that Steven Spielberg would go to Tina Turner with the script. There was a perfect part for her – jazz singer Shug Avery, described by Chicago critic Roger Ebert as  a pathetic, alcoholic juke-joint singer… who has been ravaged by life yet still has an indestructible beauty.”  She becomes “the prime mover in Celie’s eventual triumph.” Even though Shug’s lesbianism  with Whoopie’s Celie is toned dpwn from Alice Walker’s novel (which Spielberg later regretted doing), Tina passed on the role. So did five other top chanteueses: Lola Falana (First Lady of Las Vegas), Phyllis Hyman (The Sophisticated Lady), Chaka Khan (The Queen of Funk), Patti LaBelle (Godmother of Soul) and Diana Ross (from The Supremes). .  They knew the book, they knew  the sex scenes and were not sure they wanted to go there… As for rhe violence,  Tina, for one, had suffered far too much of that in her own life; enough was enough. . “Her story was too close to my own.  



 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  4