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Moesha Actors You May Not Know Passed Away

The sitcom "Moesha" was launched in 1996 on UPN. The show, which lasted six seasons and aired over 120 episodes, featured R&B sensation Brandy Norwood, best known by the American public as just Brandy, in the title role alongside a stellar supporting cast and a variety of guest stars.

While "Moesha" is still a beloved show, it also earned something of a haunting legacy in that a number of stars and guest stars from the show have passed away. This has even led to speculation there could be a "Moesha" death curse, as noted by Distractify. While the idea of a "'Moesha' death curse" certainly feels far-fetched, it's hard not to recognize that a lot of talented performers who appeared on "Moesha" have died. This includes some people you never would expect to see on a sitcom, including pop culture icons such as Maya Angelou, Kobe Bryant, and DMX.

Here is a list of "Moesha" cast members and guest stars who are no longer with us.

Bernie Mac

Famed comedian Bernie Mac got a heck of a big break being on "Moesha" as Uncle Bernie, and it would eventually lead to his own show, titled, you guessed it, "The Bernie Mac Show," which lasted from 2001 to 2006. While "The Bernie Mac Show" wasn't exactly a spin-off of "Moesha," it did have some character crossovers, including Aunt Wanda (Kellita Smith) and Moesha's best friend Niecy (Shar Jackson).

A native of Chicago, Mac made his first big breakthrough with a small role in the Daman Wayans comedy "Mo' Money," which then led to roles in "Who's the Man?," "House Party 3," and the uproarious comedy "Friday," where he played Pastor Clever.

As Mac was enjoying his featured role status on "Moesha," his career continued to rise with roles in "How to Be a Player" and the comedy/drama "Life" starring Eddie Murphy. Then Mac was a featured comedian in "The Original Kings of Comedy," and the movie roles continued with "Ocean's Eleven" and "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle," where he replaced Bill Murray.

Not long after the end of "The Bernie Mac Show," Mac became ill with sarcoidosis, an autoimmune disease that took his life at the age of fifty on August 9, 2008.

Merlin Santana

Santana was a native of New York, and his parents were from the Dominican Republic. Like many child actors, Santana started modeling at a young age, then eventually moved up to television, catching his big break on "The Cosby Show" playing Stanley, a boy who has a crush on Rudy Huxtable.

Along with playing Ohagi on "Moesha," Santana became best known for playing Romeo on "The Steve Harvey Show." Santana was also launching a hip-hop career, forming a duo named Uprise with Tyson as his partner before he was shot on November 9, 2002. According to Global Grind, a woman named Monique King claimed Santana was inappropriate with her, and her boyfriend Damien Andre Gates, along with a friend, Brandon Douglas Bynes, shot multiple rounds into Santana's car in Los Angeles. Damien was convicted of first-degree murder, and Bynes was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and assault with a deadly weapon.

Santana was 26 years old when he died, and he was also tragically the first member of the "Moesha" cast to die.

Lamont Bentley

Lamont Bentley played the role of Hakeem Campbell on "Moesha." Bentley got his start in show business by appearing in commercials before making the jump to television, making appearances on "NYPD Blue," the series version of "Clueless." He also appeared in several films, including features like "The Wash." Comedy wasn't the only genre Bentley performed well. He also earned notice for playing the unhinged Crazy K character in the urban horror film "Tales From the Hood."

Bentley's life sadly came to an end when he crashed his car in Ventura Country, CA, near the suburb of Simi Valley. Driving at high speeds, Bentley crashed through a stop sign and went down a ravine. He was then thrown from the vehicle and into oncoming traffic. Bentley's death was not drug or alcohol-related, as autopsy reports showed that he was sober when the crash happened.

Bentley died on January 19, 2005, at the age of 31.

Kobe Bryant

Fans of the late Kobe Bryant are probably aware that there was a romantic connection between him and Brandy. In fact, before he became one of the greatest basketball stars to ever play the game, he asked Brandy out to the prom, and she accepted. Both were 17 at the time, and Bryant would join the Lakers soon after that.

Bryant had a big crush on the singer. They first met at the Essence Awards earlier that year, and he would later swear to friends he was going to take her to the prom, which he ultimately made happen. Per E! News, Brandy recalled, "I thought he was cute. I read about him after I met him. And then I saw he was going somewhere in life and I thought I would love to go to the prom with him."

Bryant starred in an episode called "The Whistle Blower," where Bryant plays a promising young basketball player named Terry Hightower who needs Moesha's help passing his SATs.

Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash, along with eight others, on January 26, 2020, at 41.

Maya Angelou

Believe it or not, the acclaimed writer, poet, and social activist Maya Angelou appeared on "Moesha."  She played herself in the episode "Fired Up," which aired during the fifth season.

In the episode, Moesha pretends to be a reporter for Vibe to score an interview with Angelou. It soon becomes clear that Moesha is woefully unprepared, but Angelou offers her sage advice about continuing her education and building a better life for herself. Moesha ends up getting fired, and the interview doesn't get published, but she tells her parents she wants to go to college, and they have no idea it was Angelou that encouraged her to do so.

As the site SheLit wrote, "The 'Moesha' guest appearance was a multi-generational milestone for Black women on TV by having intellectual icon Maya Angelou reciting her poetry about rising above racial barriers with [the] top Black girl singer of the time, Brandy."

Angelou died May 28, 2014, at the age of 86.


You also may not be aware that hardcore rapper DMX played himself on "Moesha" as well, appearing in an episode called "Gimme a Break," which centers around Moesha and Niecy taking a trip up to Santa Barbara. There they see DMX perform live in concert, complete with his trademark white tank top and chains.

While DMX was known for living a troubled life before his premature death, appearing on a family-friendly sitcom did little to tarnish his street cred as a rapper. However, his appearance on "Moesha" wasn't the only time he appeared on camera. Like many hip-hop artists, DMX had a pretty sizable acting career, even co-starring with Steven Seagal in the film "Exit Wounds." He also co-starred with Jet Li in "Cradle 2 the Grave," and "Romeo Must Die."

On April 2, 2021, DMX had a heart attack and was kept alive on life support until April 9, when he died at the age of 50.

Robert Guillaume

Best known for playing the title role on the 80's sitcom "Benson," Robert Guillaume also guest-starred on the "Moesha" episode "All This and Turkey, Too," playing the character of Arthur.

Guillaume was originally a music major in college, and he toured with Quincy Jones in the musical "Free and Easy." He primarily did a lot of stage work, appearing in musicals like "Guys and Dolls" and "Purlie" before making his TV debut on the Diahann Carroll drama "Julia."

The actor made many TV appearances on shows like "Marcus Welby M.D.," "Sanford and Son," and "All in the Family" followed, before finally finding his breakout character on the '70s sitcom "Soap," where he played the sharp-tongued butler Benson. This eventually led to the character's own series, which ran from 1979 to 1985. Guillaume would be nominated for five Emmys and would win twice. He also provided the voice for Rafiki in "The Lion King."

Guillaume died on October 24, 2017, at the age of 89.

Ja'Net DuBois

A beloved sitcom star, Ja'Net DuBois was best known as Willona Woods on the classic '70s comedy "Good Times." She also wrote and sang "Movin' On Up," the theme from "The Jeffersons." She appeared on "Moesha" in the episode "Mentor," playing the character of Mrs. Moss.

DuBois was a native of Philadelphia who started on Broadway, appearing in plays like "Golden Boy" with Sammy Davis Jr. NPR notes that once she moved on to television she was a pioneering presence and became the first Black actress to have a regular series role on a daytime soap when she was cast on "Love of Life."

Her "Good Times" break came in 1974, then her memorable "The Jeffersons" theme song hit the airwaves in 1975. DuBois also made a memorable appearance in the Wayans brothers' blaxploitation spoof, "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka." 

DuBois died unexpectedly on February 17, 2020, at the age of 74.

Yvette Wilson

Yvette Wilson was a regular on "Moesha" who played Andell Wilkerson. Wilson started out in stand-up comedy, then went into steady TV and feature work in the early '90s. Besides her regular "Moesha" appearances, she also showed up on "The Parkers," a "Moesha" spin-off. Wilkerson owned "The Den," a popular hangout for Moesha and her friends, similar to The Max on "Saved By the Bell."

Wilson also appeared in the movies "Friday," "House Party 3," "Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking your Juice in the Hood." Along with her acting career, Wilson was a San Jose State University graduate, majoring in communications.

Wilson died on June 14, 2012 of cervical cancer at the age of 48. E! News gathered some of the memories shared by famous celebrities on Twitter, including Marlon Wayans, who tweeted she was "always a sweetheart ... a beautiful funny lady & friend," and Jamie Foxx, who wrote, "God bless u Yvette Wilson. Tears in my eyes. Keep God laughing."

Estelle Harris

Best known for playing George Costanza's mother on "Seinfeld," Estelle Harris also appeared on "Moesha" as Frances Howie in an episode called "Break a Leg." In the episode, Harris plays a commercial agent named Frances Howie, who can potentially make Moesha a star.

Harris had guest appearances on countless TV shows, including "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "iCarly," "ER," "Kim Possible," "Hercules," and more. Her big-screen credits include "Playing Mona Lisa," "Lost & Found," "This Is My Life," "Stand and Deliver," and more. Harris's voice-over work included the first three "Toy Story" movies as Mrs. Potato Head, "Futurama," and "The Looney Tunes Show." One of Harris's trademarks was her hilariously annoying voice which worked perfectly for cartoons and became one of her endearing qualities in comedy.

According to Deadline, Harris was also well known as the "Queen of Commercials," and she reportedly performed in as many as 25 TV spots a year.

Harris died on April 2, 2022, at the age of 93.

Montrose Hagins

Montrose Hagins appeared in a brief role as a senior citizen in the "Moesha" episode "Talk to the Town." She was born in 1924 into a religious family. Hagins' father was an Episcopal minister, and she worked as a grade-school teacher in Gary, Indiana before finding her way into the world of acting.

Hagins didn't begin acting until she was in her sixties, and her forte was often playing older roles, like grandmas, church ladies, or the nice elderly neighbor next door. Her first role was on the TV mini-series "Crossings," and her movie debut was in the fun horror creature feature "Critters."

Other TV appearances include stints on "Hill Street Blues," "The Golden Girls," "Thirtysomething," and "Matlock," which made her senior citizen royalty. Her big-screen credits include "Coming to America," "Say Anything," and "Return to Two Moon Junction."

Hagins died on October 24, 2012, at the age of 86.

Jim Lange

Best known as the host of "The Dating Game," bespeckled Jim Lange appeared on "Moesha" as himself on an episode called "The Short Story," where Moesha dates Emmanuel Lewis, who is best known as the child star from "Webster."

In addition to being a well-known game show host, Lange was also a disk jockey throughout the sixties and seventies on KSFO Radio in San Francisco. "The Dating Game" was the creation of the infamous TV producer Chuck Barris, who also created "The Gong Show" and "The Newlywed Game." Interestingly, Barris was also reputed to be an assassin for the CIA, a highly dubious rumor, although this didn't keep Lange from appearing as himself in the Barris biopic, "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," which dramatizes some of those allegations.

Lange usually would star as himself on other TV shows, which included guest appearances on "Bewitched," "Laverne & Shirley," "Amazing Stories," and "Parker Lewis Can't Lose."

Lange died on February 25, 2014 of a heart attack at the age of 81.