This 70s Actress Lived A Great Life, But See How She Died A Tragic Death
If you were watching 70’s TV shows back in the day, or even if you weren’t and can spot a true legend when you see one, then you probably recognize the “Get Christie Love” TV show star, Teresa Graves. She was known for her infamous line, “You’re under arrest shugah.” Teresa’s another one of our gems in entertainment, who made an impact on mainstream media, but who is oftentimes also forgotten by mainstream media. That’s why we’re shining a well deserved spotlight on her short, yet impactful life today. Although Teresa made history in 1974, when she became the first African American actress to star in her own one-hour TV drama, she spent her later years incognito, living in her Inglewood, Ca. home caring for her ill mother. Those who knew her later in life, never knew she was a star…she never told them and they only found out after her tragic passing.
In the mid 70s, Teresa was at the height of her career- she’d just had great success with the film “Get Christie Love,” where she played a tough, sexy police agent. The film was so successful, that it was turned into a TV show in 1974. But then she had a MAJOR life change that shocked everyone and caused her to walk away from the industry.
TERESA GRAVES BECAME A JEHOVAH’S WITNESS & A MINISTER
Teresa found Jehovah and devoted all of her energy to her religion as a Jehovah’s Witness, which conflicted with her acting roles. In 1977, she became a minister and by that point, all of her neighbors and church family only knew her as Tudie. Here is what Teresa’s neighbor, Joyce, told TV Guide:
“Where she lived most of her life was at the church. We talked in depth about her religion, but never in depth about anything else. She never talked about [her career] with me. The only time there was a discussion was with Bill [Willie Graves, Teresa’s mother]. She showed me a picture of Teresa with Marvin Gaye. And I said ‘Oh!’ and Bill said, ‘Yeah, she was in entertainment.'”
THE TRAGEDY THAT CLAIMED HER LIFE
On October 10, 2002, the home that Teresa lived in with her mother, caught on fire while Teresa was trapped inside. The fire was caused by a space heater and sadly, there was nothing the neighbors, nor fire department could do to get to her before she succumbed to it. As far as we know, she didn’t have children and she died just how she’d lived her life in her later years- without much fanfare and shrouded in her religious faith. Ms. Graves was just 54 years young. See how her friends remembered her…
TERESA GRAVES’ FRIENDS SPEAKS ON HER DEVOTION TO HER FAITH
‘Executive producer David Wolper remembers that Graves came to his office and gave him a list of what she would no longer do as Love, including knock off bad guys or sexually entice men. “She was a’ superhip policewoman. But you can’t shoot anyone, kill anyone. Can’t have relationships with anybody, any violence. You can’t do a police show based on that.” Producers tried to accommodate her, but the series was dropped after one season.’- TV Guide
[Her former manager, Bernie Brillstein] said this: ‘”Teresa was a star; she wasn’t just another girl,” ‘[He also said] Graves decided to get out of show business a few months after “Get Christie Love!” ended. “I wished her good luck”, he says. “I was heartbroken because I hated to see her throw away what I thought she had. But she obviously found something bigger and better.” That was her faith, a devotion to “the Creator” that Graves told TV Guide in 1974 was her all consuming passion. “Jehovah is first,” she said. “My job is second.”‘ – TV Guide
Rest on Teresa Graves.