The veteran stage, screen and television actress also founded a project for playwrights in Paris

By Andrea Billups
June 04, 2014 08:15 AM
Credit: Bettmann/Corbis

Lee Chamberlin, an original cast member of the 1970s PBS children’s show The Electric Company, and who then went on to a decades-long acting career on stage and screen, died Monday in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, of metastatic cancer, The New York Times reports. She was 76.

The actress, who was living in Paris, had been visiting her son Matthew at the time of her death.

Chamberlin – who starred on The Electric Company alongside Bill Cosby, Rita Moreno and then-newcomer Morgan Freeman – played the character Vi, who owned a diner and sang duets with Freeman.

She left after two seasons to take on stage and film roles, including King Lear’s Cordelia with James Earl Jones at Central Park’s Delacorte Theater, in 1976. The two also later appeared together in the CBS police drama Paris.

Her movie work included Uptown Saturday Night and Let’s Do It Again, directed by Sidney Poitier, and she also worked on TV’s NYPD Blue, Diff’rent Strokes and The Practice, according to Broadway World.

Soap opera fans also knew her as Pat Baxter on All My Children.

Born in New York City in 1939 as Alverta La Pallo, Chamberlin later changed her name for her career. She graduated from New York University and married Daniel Edward Chamberlin, in 1960. They had one son.