Leslie Uggams’ Amazing Love Story: How Her 53-Year Interracial Marriage Defied the Odds

Nigel Smith

Leslie Uggams can be seen in theaters now as Deadpool’s no-nonsense roommate Blind Al in Deadpool 2 — but in real life, the 75-year-old actress shares her home with Grahame Pratt, her husband of 53 years.

“He’s smart and witty and fearless,” she tells PEOPLE of her longtime love in this week’s issue.

The Roots actress fell for Pratt, who became her longtime manager, while on tour in Australia (he’s Australian), and they wed in 1965, at the time a rare high-profile interracial marriage.

Leslie Uggams and Grahame Pratt
Leslie Uggams and Grahame Pratt

“It was not as hard as I expected it to be,” Uggams says. “I think the reason is that Grahame was not an American white man. But of course we did get mail.”

Grahame came into Uggams’ life when she was a full-fledged star, with a Tony award under her belt for her debut Broadway performance, and a run on NBC’s Sing Along with Mitch, making her the first black woman featured on a weekly national prime-time series, already behind her.

“All of a sudden I couldn’t go anywhere because people would recognize me,” she recalls of the period.

Leslie Uggams and Grahame Pratt in 1965
Leslie Uggams and Grahame Pratt in 1965

The couple are now parents to Danielle, 48, and son Justice, 42, and grandparents of Cassidy, 7, an aspiring actress.

As for how they’ve stayed strong as a couple all these years, Uggams offers: “We laugh all the time — but it ain’t always roses. We have fun together.”

Deadpool 2 is in theaters now.