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|Also Known As:||Helen Thimig||Died:|
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A powerful and commanding singer and actress, Lynne Thigpen first gained attention on stage in the pop musical "Godspell" and repeated her role in the 1973 film version. She continued to carve out a niche on stage in productions varied as "The Magic Show" (1976) and a Tony-nominated turn in multiple roles in "Tintypes" (1981). Thigpen again played several roles (including an ex-slave and entertainer Moms Mabley) in Off-Broadway's "And I Ain't Finished Yet" before making the most of a small role as a camera operator in the hit comedy film "Tootsie" (1982). Segueing to the small screen, she joined the cast of the NBC sitcom "Love, Sidney" in 1982, playing a secretary and was among the cast of regulars in the summer variety series "The News Is the News" (NBC, 1983). One of her best screen roles came as a black activist determined to oust hard-nosed principal Joe Clark (portrayed by Morgan Freeman) in the biopic "Lean on Me" (1989). That same year, Thigpen portrayed the straight-laced radio station manager in the NBC sitcom "FM." While she continued to act in features ("Bob Roberts" 1992; "Just Cause" 1995) and on stage (notably in "Fences" opposite Billy Dee Williams and a Tony-winning turn as a feminist doctor in "An American Daughter"), she is perhaps best known to children of a certain age as 'The Chief' of the game shows "Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?" (PBS, 1991-96) and "Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego?" (PBS, 1996-98). Fans of daytime television would also remember her for her compelling turn as the grief-stricken Grace Keefer (who kidnapped a baby) in ABC's "All My Children," a role she essayed from 1993 to 1997 while primetime viewers may recognize her from her series parts or recurring roles on "L.A. Law" (as a district attorney) and "thirtysomething." More recently, Thigpen landed the pivotal role of the new employer of tobacco industry whistle-blower Jeffery Wigand in Michael Mann's Oscar-nominated "The Insider" (1999). The following year, she made regular appearances in support of Craig T Nelson in the CBS drama "The District."
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