Maya Angelou Celebrity Watchlist

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Birth Name: Marguerite Ann Johnson

Birth Place: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Birthday: April 4, 1928, Aries

Profession: Author, Poet, Professor, Actor, Dancer, Director

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Fast Facts

  • Immersed herself in literature following a personal tragedy as a child and refused to speak for nearly six years.
  • Was nicknamed Maya as a child by her older brother.
  • Was San Francisco's first black female cable car conductor.
  • As a teen she acquired a love for music and dance, and toured the world in a 1954 production of Porgy and Bess.
  • Recorded her first album Calypso Lady in 1957.
  • Joined the Harlem Writers Guild in 1958 and appeared Off-Broadway in The Blacks.
  • Worked with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X in the 1960s.
  • Published the best seller I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in 1969, the first of seven autobiographies.
  • Wrote and delivered the poem "On the Pulse of Morning" for President Bill Clinton's 1993 inaugural.
  • Awarded the Presidential Medal of the Arts in 2000.
  • Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.
  • Spoke six languages.
  • Was awarded more than 30 honorary degrees; taught American Studies at Wake Forest University.


  • 1995, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture: Nominee
  • 1973, Tony — Actress, Supporting or Featured (Dramatic): Nominee


  • Bailey Johnson Jr. — Brother
  • Vivian Baxter — Mother
  • Bailey Johnson Sr. — Father
  • Guy Johnson — Son
  • Tosh Angelos — Ex-husband
  • Vusumzi Make — Ex-husband
  • Paul du Feu — Ex-husband