Irma P. Hall biography
Irma P. Hall
Date of Birth: June 3, 1935
Born in Texas, Irma P. Hall grew up in Chicago. She returned to Texas where she graduated from Texas College and became an English and foreign languages public school teacher. She also helped form the Dallas Minority Repertory Theater, becoming an administrator for the company but eventually found herself performing in their plays as well. While reciting a poem at a Dallas gathering of artists and writers, a producer who was in town shooting a film asked her to audition for a role. The film was Book of Numbers (1973) and Irma, a 36-year-old mother of two, got the part.
However, she didn't give up her teaching career—yet. It wasn't until 1978 after acting on a couple of episodes of Dallas as Tilly the housekeeper that her acting career gained momentum. Two Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders TV movies followed in 1979 and 1980, as well as a small role in the telefilm Skyward (1980), directed by Ron Howard. The following year she worked in two more TV movies—Crisis at Central High and Broken Promise. As well as working steadily on TV and in features, Hall was performing on stage at various Dallas theaters. Finally, after 27 years of teaching, she quit to pursue acting full time. In the late 1980s, Hall moved back to Chicago where she performed with the Chicago Theatre Company, the Court Theatre, the Goodman Theatre and the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. At the same time, she was appearing in Chicago-filmed movies such as Backdraft (1988) starring Kurt Russell and directed by Ron Howard, and Straight Talk (1992) starring Dolly Parton and James Woods.
Hall won The Chicago Film Critics Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as lovable Aunt T in the feature A Family Thing (1996), starring James Earl Jones and Robert Duvall (and co-written by Billy Bob Thornton). In 1998 she won an NAACP Image Award for Best Supporting Actress for her work in the feature film Soul Food (1997) and was nominated again for an Image Award in 2001 when she reprised her role in the Showtime network TV series based on the film.
In January 2004, Hall was in a serious car accident in which she sustained a broken arm, a crushed ankle. She also had to undergo open-heart surgery but recovered in time to see a private screening of her first of three 2004 releases: The Ladykillers , in which she co-starred with Tom Hanks as a tenacious church-going little old lady. The other two are A Slipping Down Life with Guy Pearce and Collateral , starring Tom Cruise.