Diana Sands (August 22, 1934 – September 21, 1974) was an American actress, perhaps most famous for her portrayal of Beneatha Younger, the sister of Sidney Poitier's character in the original stage and film versions of Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun (1961). She also appeared in a number of dramatic television series in the 1960s and 1970s such as I Spy, as Davala Unawa in the 1967 The Fugitive episode "Dossier on a Diplomat", Dr. Harrison in the Outer Limits episode "The Mice", and Julia. Sands also starred in the 1963 film An Affair of the Skin as the narrator and photographer, Janice.
A member of the Actors Studio, Sands' performance in the Studio's 1964 production of James Baldwin's Blues for Mr. Charlie was a highlight of that show, and one which would be sorely missed during its subsequent London engagement when Sands had already committed to co-starring with Alan Alda in the original Broadway production of The Owl and the Pussycat (1964) for which she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Sands was sought eight years later to provide a track for the Original New York Cast album of Free to Be... You and Me. Unfortunately, she had died by the time the ABC Afterschool Special had begun production and her previously recorded vocal track was not selected for inclusion. In 1970, Sands co-starred in the film The Landlord, and then appeared in Doctors' Wives and Georgia, Georgia. In his memoirs, Bob Dylan tells of meeting Ms. Sands at a party and states that she was, "an electrifying actress who I might have been secretly in love with..."
In 1974 she starred in Willie Dynamite and Honeybaby, Honeybaby, and was set to star in the film Claudine with James Earl Jones. However, she was too ill to accept the role and it went to her friend Diahann Carroll. She was twice nominated for a Tony Award, and twice nominated for an Emmy Award as well. She died of leiomyosarcoma at aged 40.
Junior High School 147, located in the Bronx, New York, was named in Sands' honor.
|1969||The Gingham Dog||John Golden Theatre|
|1968||Saint Joan||Joan||Vivian Beaumont Theater|
|Tiger at the Gates||Cassandra||Vivian Beaumont Theater|
|We Bombed in New Haven||Ruth||Ambassador Theatre|
|1965||The Premise||The Premise||Improvisational theatre with material by the performers.|
|1964||Blues for Mister Charlie||Juanita||ANTA Playhouse||Tony Award nomination, Best Featured Actress in a Play|
|The Owl and the Pussycat||Doris W.||ANTA Playhouse |
|Tony Award nomination, Best Actress in a Play|
|1963||The Living Premise||Obie Award, Distinguished Performance|
|1962||Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright||Adelaide Smith||Booth Theatre||Theatre World Award|
|1959||A Raisin in the Sun||Beneatha Younger||Ethel Barrymore Theatre |
|Outer Critics Circle Award, Best Drama Performance|
- A Raisin in the Sun (1961)
- An Affair of the Skin (1963)
- Ensign Pulver (1964)
- The Landlord (1970)
- Doctors' Wives (1971)
- Georgia, Georgia (1972)
- Willie Dynamite (1974)
- Honeybaby, Honeybaby (1974)