Entertainment

Natalie Desselle, Comedic Coronary heart of ‘BAPS’ and ‘Eve,’ Dies at 53

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“She loved it – it was one of her favorite roles,” Ms. Robinson recalled of the actress who told her. “She must be in a fairy tale that was changed from white to black.”

“It is such a message for young black children to see stories that contain them, even fairy tales. I said I belong and I am in this world too,” said Ms. Robinson.

Natalie Desselle was born on July 12, 1967 in Alexandria, La.,. Her father, Paul Desselle, was the senior groundskeeper at England Air Force Base in Alexandria. Her mother, Thelma Desselle, was a cafeteria attendant who later became an administrative assistant at Peabody Magnet High School, where Natalie, her sisters Paula and Calisa, and her brother Sherman graduated.

On April 6, 2003, Ms. Desselle married Leonard Reid. The couple had a son, Sereno, and two daughters, Summer and Sasha. Ms. Desselle took her husband’s surname but continued to work as Natalie Desselle.

She is survived by her husband, three children, two sisters, a brother and her father.

Like her character in BAPS, Ms. Desselle, who Ms. Robinson said was inspired by the 1950 film All About Eve, went west to become a star. She coldly called Ms. Robinson, one of the few black women working as a manager at the time, and asked her to meet with her.

“I wasn’t exactly happy to have too many black clients because it was just too difficult to get them to work,” said Ms. Robinson. “And being black yourself is quite a statement.”

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Robert Dunfee