Actress Vonetta McGee
Actress Vonetta McGee

By Tanya Dennis
Sentinel Contributing Writer

Actress Vonetta McGee died Friday, July 9th from cardiac arrest.  Ms. McGee was born in San Francisco and graduated from Polytechnic High School.  She made her debut as an actress as the star of the Italian comedy “Faustina.”  That same year she performed with Jean-Louis Trintignant and Klaus Kinski in the Western, “The Great Silence.”  But she didn’t gain a national audience until her performance in 1972 when she starred as “Melinda” and played the love interest to Fred Williamson in “Hammer.”

She also performed in the action thriller “Shaft in Africa” (1973), playing the role of the daughter of an emir who teaches John Shaft (Richard Roundtree) Ethiopian geography.  She also starred with Clint Eastwood in the action thriller “The Eiger Sanction” (1975).

Vonetta had been visibly absent from the movie screen for the past twenty years.  When asked by her husband Carl Lumbley, also an actor,  what she had been doing, he tenderly stated, “What didn’t she do?   Anything she did she turned into an art.  She loved children and she truly loved being a mother.”

“We met on the set of Cagney and Lacy and she was my wife from the very first moment I met her.  We were husband and wife on the TV series.  Two years later we married.  She had a gift, she was directed, honest and filled with love.  When she was going through her medical challenges was when she was most available to those that needed her.”

“She paved the way for Halle Berry and other actresses.  Because of her and how she defined her womanhood, always with dignity and super intelligence, she broke ground for others.  She had super powers, she could look through walls, the walls that people build around themselves and pierce that wall with love.

She had more compassion than a doctor, more grace than a dancer, but what was most astounding was her humanity.  My mission is to keep her legacy alive.”

Ms. McGee is survived by her husband Carl, her twenty-two year old son Brandon and a host of relatives and friends.