Relationships are always somewhat complicated— but when they involve an interracial couple, especially one in America in the 1960s, they’re even more complicated. When actress Leslie Uggams married Australian Grahame Pratt, they regularly received hate letters condemning their relationship. 55 years later, they’re still together.
Interracial Couple Received Hate Letters For Their Marriage Still Together
Leslie Uggams has been on TV and in theatre since she was six years old. Most recently, she appeared as Blind Al in both Deadpool and Deadpool 2. She’s an actress who is used to receiving fan mail throughout her long career. When she first married her husband, actor Grahame Pratt, she received a different type of mail: Hate letters.
Leslie met Grahame in Sydney, Australia, in the 1960s. She was making an appearance at a club where he drunkenly asked her to join him and his friends for a drink.
“I don’t know why I ever agreed to join them for yet another drink but I did. I reckon I must have liked his style. I remember thinking he was English, not Australian.” she recalled.
While in Australia, she and her mother saw him quite a lot. At just 21 years old, the young actress found herself falling in love. She was not naive, however, knowing that beyond just distance, their relationship would have to overcome strong racial tension in America.
“I Was Always Expected to Marry A Black Man”
Leslie didn’t let race limit her dating life growing up and even dated a Caucasian boy when she was a teenager. However, many of her family members said that while it was fine for her to date white men, they expected her to settle down with a black man eventually.
However, when she met Grahame, she knew it was a promise she couldn’t keep. After her time in Australia was up, it was a full year before the pair saw each other again.
The Foreign Advantage
When the couple got together again, Leslie had her doubts. She loved him and knew he loved her, too, but she was worried. Worried that her family wouldn’t accept him, she worried that Grahame wasn’t fully grasping the race situation in America. To top it off, he was the one who would have to leave Sydney and come to New York because of Leslie’s career.
“I felt that as I was the one who would be taking him away from the sort of life he had been used to, it was up to me to make sure he really knew what it would be like.”
His being Australian ended up being an advantage. They got engaged, and he came to New York to meet Leslie’s family and friends. To her surprise, Grahame fit in nearly seamlessly with both groups. Being a foreigner, he had a different perspective – not the same ingrained biases that many Americans had.
“He had none of the self-consciousness about the situation that a white American often has. He fit in easily with all my friends…just because he liked them. And they certainly liked him, both the men and the girls.” she said. (1)
The Hate Letters
The couple married in 1965. Living in New York, they found it shockingly easy. Few people, if any at all, made rude remarks about their relationship. However, it was a different story when she was on the road, and many people weren’t afraid to write nasty hate letters.
Often addressed to “The Little Negro Entertainer,” these hate letters were full of mean comments about Leslie and Grahame’s marriage and how Leslie should not be married to a white man.
Despite those challenges, the couple stuck it out and are still married 55 years later. Together, they had two children, and now they have a granddaughter who is an aspiring actress following in her grandmother’s footsteps.
Leslie and Grahame are a true testament to the fact that real love is strong enough to conquer anything. With racial tensions reaching a new high in the United States today, we can all take inspiration from their marriage, proving love wins over hate.
This article originally appeared on Tiffy Taffy and has been republished here with permission.
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- “50 Years Ago, They Received Hate Letters For Their Love–Today, They’re Still Together.” Goal Cast. Aly Walansky. September 14, 2020.
- “Leslie Uggams.” IMDB
- “Meet ‘Roots’ Star Leslie Uggams’ Husband Grahame Pratt Who She Has Been Married to for 54 Years.” Amomama. Olawale. June 5, 2020.