Jackee Harry (born Jacqueline Yvonne Harry on August 14, 1956 in Winston-Salem, NC) is an African-American Actress, Comedienne, Singer, and TV Producer & Director. She is best known to TV audiences as the sexy and sassy upstairs neighbor Sandra Clark for four seasons on the NBC sitcom 227 and as homemaker and fashion designer Lisa Landry on the ABC/WB sitcom Sister Sister. She once appeared as a celebrity panelist on the Game Show panelist The (New) $25,000 Pyramid in the mid-1980s.
Born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina but raised in Harlem, New York, to a Trinidadian mother and African-American father. Jackee began to study acting at the High School of the Performing Arts on the Lower East Side in New York City and she later went on the become an American History teacher at Brooklyn Technical High School before pursuing a career on the New York stage. She made her Broadway debut in A Broadway Musical, playing a chorine. Throughout the 1980s she starred in numerous productions both on and off Broadway, and in national touring productions.
Appearing on stage, Jackee caught the eye of a casting director on the NBC soap opera Another World and wanted her to come in and audition, Harry agreed. The character role Jackee auditioned for was Lily Mason, she first started of as a day player and the casting directors were so impressed with her performances, she was signed on as a series regular on the soap. Jackee played the role of Lily Mason on Another World from 1983-1986.
In 1985, while still appearing as Lily Mason on Another World, Jackee began pulling double duty after she landed the role of the sexy, sassy upstairs neighbor Sandra Clark on the NBC sitcom 227, debuting on September 14, 1985. The series was adapted from a play written in 1978 by Christine Houston about the lives of women in a predominantly black apartment building in 1950s Chicago. The setting of the series, however, was changed to present-day Washington, D.C. Harry co-starred alongside the series' lead, Marla Gibbs, who previously appeared as Florence Johnston, the sassy maid on the CBS sitcom The Jeffersons. Jackee's mother, Flossie, celebrated her getting the role but passed away before the show started airing.
Overtime, TV audiences fell in love with sexy vamp Sandra Clark on 227 and some argued that Jackee had become the show's rising star. In 1987, she won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series and holds the record as the first and so far the only African-American to receive this honor.
But as the fourth season of 227 progressed, it wasn't all fun and laughter behind the camera as increasing tension mounted between Harry and Marla Gibbs, whom the series was originally made as a starring vehicle for. The two women began feuding over whom was the series lead. Gibbs was also unhappy about the show's increasing focus on the Sandra character. So in an effort to keep the stars happy, Jackée was given the chance to spin off the Sandra character into her own show. Jackée's television pilot, entitled Jackée. In the TV pilot, TV viewers saw Sandra Clark packing her bags and moving to New York City where she first found work in the film industry but left after discovering that the film only specializes in porn and the very next day, she found work at a local health spa. NBC aired the episode on May 11, 1989 and although it was proven to be a hit with TV audiences, the peacock network rejected the pilot and Harry departed from the show. The rejected pilot episode is now shown as an episode of 227.
After Jackee's departure from 227, the show's ratings dropped dramatically. She was credited as a special guest star for seven of the show's season five episodes with the episode titled "The Perfume Game" being her very last appearance. The ratings continued on a downward spiral and after five seasons, the series ended on May 6, 1990.
In 1989, Harry played the role of Etta Mae Johnson in the ABC miniseries The Women of Brewster Place, a film adaption of the 1982 novel by Gloria Naylor and starring Oprah Winfrey. In late 1991, she joined the cast of the CBS sitcom The Royal Family after the series' star, Redd Foxx, unexpectedly died after suffering a fatal heart attack on the set. She starred opposite two-time 227 guest-star Della Reese (Reese played Jackee's mother in the 1987 episode titled "Far from The Tree"). A year later, she appeared in the movie Ladybugs opposite Rodney Dangerfield.
Jackee continued to land guest starring roles on various TV shows including a guest starring role on the CBS sitcom Designing Women in an episode titled "Shades of Vanessa". It wasn't until 1994 when she would make a comeback in the world of TV comedy. She landed the role of homemaker & fashion designer-by-trade Lisa Landry on the ABC sitcom Sister Sister, starring real-life twin actresses Tia and Tamera Mowry, debuting on April 1. The series was ultimately cancelled by ABC due to low ratings in the spring in 1995 but breathed new life after being picked up by the WB network and held respectable-if not spectacular ratings. Under the WB network, Sister Sister ran for four additional seasons and the series ended on May 23, 1999 and playing the role of Lisa Landry, won Jackee two back-to-back NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.
She also spent time in the world of TV Game Shows, she appeared as celebrity panelists on the game shows The (New) $25,000 Pyramid, Super Password, Hollywood Squares (during the tenure of Tom Bergeron), and the short-lived 2000s revival of the classic Game Show To Tell the Truth, hosted by John O'Hurley.
Harry also made a return to Broadway. In 1994, she starred as Billie Holiday in the play Lady Day at Emersons Bar and Grill. Following that stage production, she fulfilled the role of "madam who runs a bordello" in the Broadway musical The Boys from Syracuse and in the mid-2000s, she appeared in stage productions of The Sunshine Boys, Damn Yankees, and A Christmas Carol. She also toured nationally in JD Lawrence's The Clean Up Woman.
Well into the 2000s, Jackee continued to appear in guest starring roles on various TV shows which include 7th Heaven, That's so Raven, and One on One. She later had recurring roles on the CW sitcom Everybody Hates Chris and the BET sitcom Let's Stay Together.
She also reconciled with her 227 cast mate Marla Gibbs. Harry openly admitted that once the Sandra character took off, so did her ego as the two ladies buried the hatchet and now become close friends. Today, Jackee currently stars in Byron Allen's Syndicated Sitcom The First Family (debuting on September 22, 2012) which also features Gibbs in a recurring role. On April 12, 2013, it was announced that she was cast in the episodes "Girl Meets Crazy Hat" and the pilot of Disney sitcom Girl Meets World. That same year, she and Marla Gibbs appeared in the movie Forbidden Woman. In 2014, she reunited with her Sister Sister TV daughter Tia Mowry in a guest starring role on the TV Land sitcom Instant Mom as her Sister Sister character Lisa Landry.
Harry has married twice, she was first married from 1980-1984 to man whom to this date remains unknown. On December 1, 1996, she married Elgin Charles Williams and a year later, they adopted a son, Frank. They later divorced in 2003.
On January 11, 2016, Jackee along with Marla Gibbs, attended the funeral of Grammy-Award winning singer Natalie Cole, at the West Angeles Church of God in Christ in Los Angeles, California, following her death at the end of 2015.