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Denise Nicholas (born Donna Denise Nicholas; July 12, 1944) is an American actress and social activist who was involved in the American Civil Rights Movement. She is known primarily for her role as high school guidance counselor Liz McIntyre on the ABC comedy-drama series Room 222, and for her role as Councilwoman Harriet DeLong on the NBC/CBS drama series In the Heat of the Night.


Nicholas was born in Detroit, Michigan, the daughter of Louise Carolyn and Otto Nicholas. She spent her early years in Detroit. With the remarriage of her mother to Robert Burgen, she then moved to Milan, Michigan, a small town south of Ann Arbor. At the age of 16 she appeared on the August 25, 1960 cover of Jet magazine as a future school teacher prospect at the National High School Institute at Northwestern University. She graduated from Milan High School in 1961. Nicholas is the middle child of three, with an older brother, Otto, and a younger sister, Michele, who was murdered.
She entered the University of Michigan as a pre-law major. While at Michigan she switched her major to Latin-American politics, Spanish and English. She subsequently transferred to Tulane University, where she majored in fine arts. Her acting debut was in an all-Spanish play presented by her language class. She left college early to join the Free Southern Theater, during the Civil Rights Movement. After spending two years touring the deep South with the FST, Nicholas went to New York and joined the Negro Ensemble Company and working in all productions during the first season of that theater ensemble. From the stage of the St. Mark's Playhouse in New York, Nicholas was cast as Liz McIntyre, the Guidance Counselor on ABC series Room 222. Nicholas received her BA in Drama from the University of Southern California, after living in Southern California for a number of years.
Nicholas began her television acting career in 1968, with an episode of It Takes a Thief. Following Room 222 (1969a??1974), she

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The Summer of '64

In the fall of 1964, Denise Nicholas, then 19, was in New Orleans protesting the arrest of civil rights photographers. Suddenly, she says, she felt a gun at her temple. “If you take one more step,” a white police officer told her, “I’ll blow your ...
Posted: August 22, 2005, 5:00 am

Montgomery County and Frederick County home sales

4204-Denise T. Fioravante to Natasha S ... Emerick to Suk Chul Kim, $271,000. Winding Creek Pl., 18656-Nicholas T.O. Gwin and Nancy O. Gwin to Valeria Larson Hughes and Fernando R. Fernandez Revilla, $250,000. Armory Ave., 10314-Stephen John and Anna ...
Posted: January 17, 2018, 6:00 am

The civil rights experience of novelist Denise Nicholas inspired her artistry

Denise Nicholas ’87 was 19 years old when she interrupted her pre-law studies at the University of Michigan to travel to the Deep South and the heart of the civil rights movement. It was a dangerous time and place for a young activist, but even her ...
Posted: April 8, 2010, 5:00 pm
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