Shirley Jo Finney (1949-2023)


By Armando Tinoco | Deadline

Shirley Jo Finney, a theater director and the star of Wilma (1977), has died. She was 74.

The Fountain Theatre announced Finney’s October 10 death on social media writing in an Instagram post, “With broken hearts, we share the sad news that director Shirley Jo Finney, a beloved member of our Fountain Family, passed away yesterday after a long illness.”

Some of the productions that Finney directed included Citizen: An American Lyric, Heart Song, In the Red and Brown Water, The Brothers Size, The Ballad of Emmett Till, Yellowman, Central Avenue and From the Mississippi Delta.

Finney had been battling with cancer for eight months, according to a report from the Los Angeles Times.

Finney starred in the television film Wilma, a biopic about track star Wilma Rudolph and the obstacles she faced to win three gold medals in the 1960 Olympics. In the television movie, Finney starred opposite Cicely Tyson, Jason Bernard, Denzel Washington and more.

In television, Finney is credited on IMDb as having directed three episodes of the Brandy-starring sitcom Moesha. On the acting side, her first credit was in an episode of The New Temperatures Rising Show in 1973.

Other film and TV credits included Police Woman (1974), Police Story (1973), Nashville Girl (1976), The Blue Knight (1976), Mork & Mindy (1979), Lou Grant (1978), Hill Street Blues (1985), Amen (1987), Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1987), Night Court (1989), and many more.