Lynne Thigpen, 1948-2003

Lynne Thigpen Actress Lynne Thigpen died Wednesday night.

Among many, many other roles, Thigpen played Grace Keefer on All My Children from 1993 to 2000. The start of her role on that show was the heart of the time I was a rabid fan of that soap opera (i.e. taping show when away from home so as to not miss an episode, etc.)

More recently, she was the reason (the only reason) to watch the television drama The District. She also played The President in Bicentennial Man, and had roles in Novocaine, Shaft and The Insider.

She will be missed.


Rob MacD's picture
Rob MacD on March 14, 2003 - 16:21 Permalink

For me, she’ll be remembered as “Chief” in the PBS program “Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?”

Anthony Royka's picture
Anthony Royka on March 16, 2003 - 19:54 Permalink

Does anybody remember Lynne Thigpen and her outstanding rendition of O BLESS THE LORD (MY SOUL) in the 1973 movie version of the Broadway musical GODSPELL. I’ve loved her dearly ever since! I miss her already!

Sue Mohr's picture
Sue Mohr on March 17, 2003 - 16:30 Permalink

What happened? How did she die? The District will not be the same without her, either.

J. Coleman's picture
J. Coleman on March 17, 2003 - 18:16 Permalink

Did She, in real life, have the cancer that her character, “Ella Farmer”, was afflicted with on The District? Will the show be viable without Her? She will be sorely missed…..reminds me of the untimely death of another Black actress — Madge Sinclair(Trapper John, MD;Voice over in Lion King)

Schell's picture
Schell on March 17, 2003 - 23:40 Permalink

Has anyone found out how she died?

MJ's picture
MJ on March 18, 2003 - 19:53 Permalink


I will dearly miss her…her Portrayal of Ella Farmer was superb and her character can never be replaced……..does anyone know when her funneral was held or is there a memorial page for her…

Gerry's picture
Gerry on March 18, 2003 - 22:27 Permalink

Did you see last Saturday’s episode of “The District”? I used a lot of Kleenex during the program, but really lost it when she sang part of a hymn after the program ended. She was a lady in the most classical sense and I wonder, too, how the program can go on without her.

James's picture
James on March 19, 2003 - 02:43 Permalink

I never miss the show,mainly because of the Character she brought to her character. The hymm put the mist in my eyes as her voice flowed ever so softly. She was cherished,and will be sorely missed.

HANK's picture
HANK on March 20, 2003 - 20:04 Permalink

I was shocked at the end of the program…as I has not heard she had died….she made the program with the way she and Nelson realted….what concerns me is that it never has been published how she died and when was funeral and who her family was…this is the most kepted secret in the world..anyone have any answers?????

Janice's picture
Janice on March 21, 2003 - 00:34 Permalink

I haven’t seen any further info about her passing. I did watch the film GODSPELL last night for the first time in years, just to pay my own little tribute to that remarkable woman. I started sniffling all over the place, what with seeing Lynne, not to mention so many shots of the Twin Towers.
In many ways, GODSPELL is timeless, being able to see Lynne and New York City as it used to be 30 years ago, before 9/11. We were so naive and innocent then.

Joan Stripling's picture
Joan Stripling on March 21, 2003 - 14:39 Permalink

March 21, 2003

Add my name to the list of the ones that would like to know
what happened to Lynne Thigpen… ?? Why can’t the questions be answered ???

James Collins's picture
James Collins on March 21, 2003 - 23:57 Permalink

Lynne was one of those actors that I always recognized, but never attached a name to the face. Although, when I heard that Lynne Thigpen from The District had died, I knew exactly who it was. She had a definite presence on that show.
I remember her best as the angry, head strong mother in Lean On Me (She was annoyingly wonderful) and of course, her “Chief” character on Carmen Sandiego.
I thought the ending of last week’s The District was very touching.
My thoughts and prayers go out to her loved ones.
May she rest in peace.

Jill's picture
Jill on March 22, 2003 - 19:36 Permalink

Lynne Thigpen was an amazing woman. Her presence on screen said it all. I can’t understand why more hasn’t been said about her death. I read on another website that she died of a heart attack, but dont know for sure. I’ve read nothing about her family. How can it be that so little info. is out there on the death of someone we all loved so much? She was so wonderful on The District. She made the show. I cried when I saw the episode last saturday. That show can never be the same now. “Lynne, you were a woman of class and will be greatly missed by all”

marilyn bolton's picture
marilyn bolton on July 15, 2003 - 05:28 Permalink

Lynne thigpen will be missed greatly. I have never been so shocked as to to hear the news that she had passed on. I am so curious as to how she died? She will be missed. I thought she and Nelson made a great pair. They were true friends. And what was so wonderful it showed that one does not have to be of the same color to be a good, dear friend.

Cassandra Hopkins's picture
Cassandra Hopkins on September 13, 2003 - 19:00 Permalink

All the tributes are so true and I too will miss her wonderful presence. Does anyone remember that she also could be seen on the soap “All My Children.”

Cassandra Hopkins Everett

Pat Schmidt's picture
Pat Schmidt on September 14, 2003 - 04:50 Permalink

I loved seeing her smile and hearing her voice on The District. Although I knew nothing about her, I had always gotten the impression that she was exactly like the “Ella” she portrayed on The District — a “real” and “genuine” person. She will be greatly missed! God Bless You Lynne (Ella)! What a loss!!!! The District will never be the same without you!
Pat Schmidt

Rod's picture
Rod on September 14, 2003 - 05:10 Permalink

God’s blessings to the family of Lynne Thigpen. I too enjoyed the many characters she portrayed through the years. I can’t put my finger on the reason she has evoked concern, maybe because she seemed sincere.

No matter, I will enjoy the memories of her acting and send up prayers for her family and friends.

Kathleen's picture
Kathleen on September 14, 2003 - 07:17 Permalink

I missed the first running of The District episode and was greatly shocked and saddened to find out tonight than Lynne Thigpen had died. What a stunning voice, what a remarkable face. I’ve spent the last hour on the Web, researching Lynne’s career. She left quite a legacy of fine work and she will be greatly missed. Truly a classy lady and a great credit to the stage and screen arts.

Sharon Parsons's picture
Sharon Parsons on September 14, 2003 - 07:27 Permalink

I researched on the internet and I found a page that
said she had a cerebral hemmorage. There was a lot of
mystery regarding the cause of her death. I loved her
on All My Children. Her love of life and the Lord showed
through in her work. I miss her. God Bless her family and comfort them in their loss.

Tricia's picture
Tricia on September 22, 2003 - 07:17 Permalink

I have always enjoyed her as an actress. and while watching the emmys tonight . found out that she had passed away. I knew her character had passed on The District but didn’t know it was for real. We always lose the good ones.

Sure wish I could find out what happend to her. I have been searching the web and find nothing.

God Bless her family and friends. She will always be remembered and Missed.

Lisa's picture
Lisa on October 2, 2003 - 12:45 Permalink

I am at a loss. I remember her in many roles. She was a great/outstanding actress. I am saddened by losing her. I just wonder why nothing concrete has arisen about her death. Did she have any family?

S's picture
S on October 13, 2003 - 19:54 Permalink

Estava assistindo ao Grammy 2003 e fiquei surpreso ao saber da morte da “Ella”. Gostaria de saber mais detalhes. Com certeza The District n

Patrik's picture
Patrik on January 7, 2004 - 00:33 Permalink

I miss her so much. She was the reason I followed The District here in Belgium :’(

Kathleen - Trevor's mom's picture
Kathleen - Trev... on January 17, 2004 - 14:05 Permalink

My son watches her every morning as she sings the goodbye song on “Bear in the big blue house”. We were so sad to hear that “luna” was gone. You never see her face but you always recognize her amazingly powerful and soothing voice.
She will be greatly missed here but will entertain other elsewhere….

Cleresa's picture
Cleresa on February 7, 2004 - 17:49 Permalink

I always watched the District because of her. Her strength as a woman and her wisdom to make things right. It took me by surprised to have heard of her death. Unfortunately I found out early this year when they broadcast our fallen soldiers. She will always inspire me. She was and angel and now the angel will watch over all of us.

Cleresa's picture
Cleresa on February 7, 2004 - 17:51 Permalink

I always watched the District because of her. Her strength as a woman and her wisdom to make things right. It took me by surprised to have heard of her death. Unfortunately I found out early this year when they broadcast our fallen soldiers. She will always inspire me. She was and angel and now the angel will watch over all of us. May God Bless her and her family for their lost.

Laura's picture
Laura on February 16, 2004 - 11:00 Permalink

I was shocked when I saw the memorium for her at the end. I didn’t know she had died. I still don’t understand how, but have heard maybe a heart attack. She was such a young woman and very talented as well. God bless her family during this hard time, however, they have so much to be proud of. She was a wonderful actress and a credit to her profession.

India's picture
India on March 6, 2004 - 00:53 Permalink

Lynne was an incredible actress and human being. Her cause of death is still unknown and people keep projecting about what the cause of death could have been. I was blessed to work with her until the end and her work was phenomenal. She was a beautiful human being who I believe finished what she had to do here on this plane and then went to sleep. We miss her terribly but she is now an angel and they must be putting on one heck of a show in heaven with John Ritter, Barry White, Katherine Hepburn, Gregory Hines, and all the other greats that passed away in 2003. Lynne was recently (and posthumously) nominated for a daytime emmy for her work on a children’s show. And her memory lives on at The District.

Anjana Sen's picture
Anjana Sen on March 9, 2004 - 22:49 Permalink

This is my small tribute to the memories of this remarkable lady Lynne Thigpen. It has been a very strange and unbelievable coincidence. I didn’t know her name so far, but I always liked her in “The District” and “Night Ride Home” for her screen presence. But only recently, March 2004, “Just Cause” and “Random Hearts” came on TV in Denmark, where I live. I saw her again and wanted to dig out who she is. It felt like, she is telling me something from my inside, her face kept coming back to my mind. The shock came like a blow on my face when I read about her death on the internet. Today is March 9th and it is going to be one year of her death, I didn’t even know she died. What an unbelievable coincidence!!!!!

M. R. Keenan's picture
M. R. Keenan on March 12, 2004 - 06:28 Permalink

I have to agree!! I just was flipping through the channnels and saw a tribute to African Americans who passed away in the last year. Luckily, I have Teevo and was able to ‘rerun’ and see Lynne Thigpen’s name as I didn’t even know here name!! But I am so surprised and saddened as I really had admired her. I remember from the PBS show: ‘something Santiago’ which my children watched several years ago. I think she was even on a soap opera I watched years and years ago. Also, she is exactly my age!!

I’m w/ you on the coincidence of the date!! How sad that she is gone. I wish she could know what impacted she had.

mthornton13's picture
mthornton13 on March 13, 2004 - 09:21 Permalink

marcia, march 12,2004.2:18 am. I just found out about her death last night on the NAACP Image awards. Didn’t she play the mother of the boy that was killed in the Shaft movie starring Samuel L Jackson? I’d really like to know.

Norma's picture
Norma on May 25, 2004 - 09:59 Permalink

I just learned that CBS has cancelled “The District.”
As soon as I found out Lynne Thigpen has died I knew her show (The District) would eventually be cancelled. Ms. Thigpen’s intelligence, wit, and immense acting talent was the only reason the show was a hit and the main reason I watched the show.

Maggie's picture
Maggie on May 29, 2004 - 02:02 Permalink

I just watched the episode tonight with the postscript “in loving memory of Lynne Thigpen” as it has just been broadcast on RTE in Ireland. what a huge loss. She and Jack Mannion’s relationship really made the show tho I am disappointed to hear it has been cancelled. It is broadcast really late in Ireland and Britain (the British episodes are maybe 2 series old!) but I try to stay up for them or to record them as it’s always worth watching.

I have looked up a number of websites since the progamme ended but can’t find anything about how she died. Does anyone know yet?

MARY VAN DEE's picture
MARY VAN DEE on September 11, 2004 - 22:56 Permalink


Stephen Ackers's picture
Stephen Ackers on March 13, 2005 - 01:46 Permalink

As an avid watcher of the District on the Hallmark channel here in the UK, I was searching the net for the characters biographies and was stunned tonight, 12th March 2005, to find that Lynne Thigpen had died. We watch the District 2 years behind the U.S. and so to discover that today was the 2 year anniversary of her death was shocking. She played a fabulous role, my wife loved her portrayal of the character Ella. A woman of great strength and caring. We will all I’m sure sadly miss her.

Christine Purcell's picture
Christine Purcell on March 18, 2005 - 14:15 Permalink

I only found out the other day about Lynne Thigpen’s death, three days later and I still have a lump in my throat, this lady was fantastic, I would have loved to have met her, what a great actress, she could handle any role given to her, she will be very sadly missed by this family.

Tunde Atoki's picture
Tunde Atoki on March 18, 2005 - 14:37 Permalink

Like so many viewers of the District in the UK, I only found out about Lynne’s death two days ago. It was an absolute shock, she was REAL. You truly felt her SOUL was happy. I will certainly miss her, what a smile.

Sarah-Jayne Bottrill's picture
Sarah-Jayne Bottrill on March 21, 2005 - 11:06 Permalink

Dito all the comments + thoughts above !! The mystery surrounding her death seems as surreal as one of the episode’s of ‘The District’.As many others, being in England only learned of this tragedy about a week ago. Has there been no further info in 2 years ?

C. Ochoa's picture
C. Ochoa on August 17, 2005 - 16:27 Permalink

I loved Lynne Thigpen as Ella Farmer. She was wonderful, warm and believable. I’m curious about the plans for her on The District before she died — was she going to recover from cancer? It’s an amazing coincidence that the program had featured her awful illness and then she died of a heart attack.

Deresa Mitchell's picture
Deresa Mitchell on December 11, 2005 - 14:03 Permalink

I have recently started viewing the reruns of The District . they run early in the morning before I goto work. This is when I found out Lyne Thigpen had passed. I knew during that episode of her memorial,that she was really dead. I could see the genuine grief, in the actors faces and voices. Lynne’s stage presences leave me to believe that she was a great person. I would like to know how she died. May her family continue to game strenght.

Person's picture
Person on June 9, 2009 - 06:38 Permalink

Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? She was fantastic on this childen’s show!!! I watched it and i certainly wasn’t a kid!!!!!

Derek Morrison's picture
Derek Morrison on June 1, 2012 - 13:00 Permalink

I have been watching the district here in Australia on Foxtel FX channel and as I travel a lot I tape and watch multi episodes together so as you all know the shock of Ella only today June 2012 for me yes was as sad as it was back in 2003, 9 years ago for you all. I would like to know her better to re-live her profession life through recordings of shows [godspell] TV etc so if anyone can help please email me on
All the words have been said, so I have spent a quiet moment remembering a great talent and a wonderful ‘real person’.
thanks Lynne for making my life that much richer by you being in it.
Derek Morrison Australia