This 70s Actress Lived A Great Life, But Sadly, It Ended Very Tragically
If you can spot a true legend when you see one, then you probably recognize the “Get Christie Love” ’70s TV show star, Teresa Graves. She’s known for her infamous line, “You’re under arrest shugah.” Ms. Graves made an impact on mainstream media. But although she accomplished a great feat in 1974, becoming the second African American actress to star in her own one-hour TV drama (Cicely Tyson was the first in 1963), she spent her latter years incognito, living in her Inglewood, CA home, and caring for her ill mother. Those who knew her personally at that time, never knew she was a star…she never told them, and they only found out after her tragic passing.
In the mid 1970s, Teresa was at the height of her career following the success of the film, “Get Christie Love,” where she played a tough, sexy police agent. It was so successful, that it was turned into a TV series in 1974. Nevertheless, she then had a MAJOR life change that shocked everyone and caused her to walk away from the industry for good.
TERESA GRAVES BECAME A MINISTER, LIVED INCOGNITO
Ms. Graves eventually devoted all of her energy to her then newly found religion as a Jehovah’s Witness, which conflicted with her acting roles. In 1977, she became a minister and by that time, all of her neighbors and church family only knew her as ‘Tudie,’ the name she’d adopted after saying ‘peace out’ to Hollywood.
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 GRAVES’ 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 SPOKE 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.’ – via 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.”‘ – via TV Guide
Rest on Teresa Graves.