Josephine Mary Premice (July 21, 1926 - April 13, 2001) was an American actress and singer known for her work on the Broadway stage.
Josephine Mary Premice was born in Brooklyn, New York, on July 21, 1926 to Haitian immigrants. Her parents were part of the Haitian aristocracy who fled Haiti after her father, Lucas Premice, who allegedly had claim to the title Count de Bodekin, was part of a failed rebellion to try to overthrow the current dictator of the country. They eventually immigrated to New York in the early 1920s. There Mr. Premice became a furrier. Premice and her sister, Adele, were given the education and training of an "at-home finishing school" and treated like part of the elite, at a time when African Americans were considered second-class citizens even in the northern states.
Premice made her Broadway debut in a 1945 revue show called Blue Holiday. The show was choreographed by Katherine Dunham, who Josephine had studied dance with and her co-star was Ethel Waters. She was in the pre-Broadway cast of the musical House of Flowers with Diahann Carroll and Pearl Baily. Josephine was nominated for a TonyAward for her work in the 1957 musical Jamaica as Ginger alongside leading lady Lena Horne. Her next Broadway appearance garnered her a second Best Featured Actress in a Musical Tony Award nomination for her role in A Hand Is on the Gate, where she performed African American poetry works alongside James Earl Jones, Cicely Tyson, and Gloria Foster. Her final Broadway appearance came in 1976 with the musical Bubbling Brown Sugar. Reviewing the production in the New York Times, Clive Barnes wrote that Ms. Premice can almost make a feather boa come alive.
Premice played a supporting role in the 1974 television movie The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman as Ms. Gautier. She guest starred on The Cosby Show, and The Jeffersons (playing Louise Jefferson's sister). She also guest starred in several episodes of A Different World.
An alum of Columbia University with a degree in anthropology., she was also known for her calypso recordings and fashion sense.
Premice died in her Manhattan residence on April 13, 2001 at the age of 74 from complications of emphysema. She was survived by her estranged husband, Timothy Fales, and her two children, Enrico Fales (b. 1959) and Susan Fales-Hill, a television producer, her son-in-law, Aaron, and her sister, Adele Premice. In 2003, her daughter published a biography of her mother titled "Always Wear Joy: My Mother, Bold and Beautiful".