This pretty, dark-haired fiery actress labored for years in small roles before getting her due as a Latina spitfire in Wayne Wang's "Smoke" (1995). As she has described it, Gorham had an "I Love Lucy"...
Made film debut, in Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing"
First notable film role, "Smoke"; reprised role in "Blue in the Face"
Moved to NYC to pursue career
Raised in Florida
Filmed pilot as star of the proposed NBC sitcom "Union Square"; dropped out of project in June 1997
TV debut, as a guest on "The Equalizer"
Appeared in numerous off-Broadway productions
This pretty, dark-haired fiery actress labored for years in small roles before getting her due as a Latina spitfire in Wayne Wang's "Smoke" (1995). As she has described it, Gorham had an "I Love Lucy" childhood with a Cuban-born mother and Jewish-American father. Twice-divorced by her early 20s, she left her native Florida and headed for New York, where she appeared in more than 30 shows, mostly off-Broadway and storefront productions. Gorham appeared on the TV shows "The Equalizer" (CBS, 1989) and "Law & Order" (NBC, 1991), but mostly concentrated on film and theater work.
The film jobs were few and far between. She was little more than a glorified extra in Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing" (1989) and played a nurse in Penny Marshall's "Awakenings" (1990). Gorham was Luis Guzman's date in the crime drama "Carlito's Way" (1993), then was spotted by a casting agent in the stage show "El Barrio, USA" and cast as a demented immigrant in Mira Nair's Cuban-American romance "The Perez Family" (1995).
That same year, Gorham was finally found her breakthrough role. In Wayne Wang's loosely woven, episodic "Smoke", she played Violet, performing a seven-minute scene with William Hurt and Harvey Keitel, blazing through the screen like a modern-day Lupe Velez. The role was expanded for the "Smoke" prequel "Blue in the Face" (also 1995), which, unfortunately, was considered self-indulgent and rambling. Gorham had good supporting roles as one of the cleaning crew in "Curdled" (1996), a dark comedy about the business of mopping up after murders, and in the romantic comedy "Wishful Thinking" (1997), alongside Drew Barrymore and Jon Stewart.
married c. 1968; divorced
owner Bison Motorcycles; married c. 1970; divorced
born c. 1935; Cuban; divorced from Gorham's father
born c. 1928; Jewish; divorced from Gorham's mother
University of Miami
"Everything comes in good time. Just because I'm not superfamous now doesn't mean I'm not successful. Therefore, what's to come is a gift." --Mel Gorham in INTERVIEW, June 1995