28 For 28: 28 Days of ‘Blaxploitation’ Legends – No. 2 Marki Bey


Marki Beys

Watching this Bo Jackson blast always gets me teary eyed.

What does Bo Jackson have to do with Marki Bey?

Marki Bey is the Bo Jackson of the acting world. She didn’t play for long, but in just a few short years she did things that might never stop being talked about by movie  junkies.

She may have already wanting to call a time-out by the time she did Sugar HIll, but found the sweet spot anyway.

Just as Bo Jackson didn’t let Brian Bosworth stop him from scoring, Marki Bey didn’t let the weirdo script of Sugar Hill to stop her from turning in a highlight reel performance.


Yeah, I stretched too far to prove a point and then went to the well one too many times with the Bo Jackson connections, but I did it with the best of intentions. She just did so much in so little time.

Why We Love and Respect Her:

We believe her only blaxploitation-genre-qualifying film to be Sugar HIll, the 1974, zombie-voodoo movie where former slaves turn walking dead and get used by Sugar Hill to avenge the death of her man. It’s easy to go into a viewing of Sugar Hill with low expectations thinking, “It’s the plot I’ve seen 1,000 times plus slave zombies. Big deal,” but it’s also hard to get through 20 minutes of the film without Marki Bey winning you over if you’ve got any compassion and two good eyes.

It’s quite obvious she didn’t show up on the set with the intentions of giving a B-grade just because it’s a B-grade film. She was there to get down to business, and that she did.

She did make four other movies and gave standout performances in those movies too.

Starting the mid-1970s and lasting until her retirement from acting in 1979, only did television work, where she’s probably best remembered as being Officer Minnie Kaplan on Starsky and Hutch.

Best Known For: Leaving the business too early, or quitting the business too early after becoming frustrated by repeatedly not getting hired because of her light skin tone depending who you ask; the rarity with which she does interviews or appearances, and saying “Screw you guys, I’m going home,” long before anything even resembling Eric Cartman was a sketch on the back of Matt or Trey’s notebook.

Sugar Hill - Marki & Zombies

Sugar Hill (1974)

Blaxploitation Role Call:

Sugar Hill (1974) as Dian “Sugar” Hill, a Voodoo Woman/Badass: Voodoo queen: Mama Maitresse and Zamedi, Lord of the Dead, help Sugar Hill get back at the gangsters who killed her boyfriend while shaking him down for extortion money. Together with Mama and LOD, Sugar leads an army of slave zombies who do her bidding.

And uh, Sugar Hill, who, as her boyfriend points out before getting iced, “look(s) as sweet as sugar tastes.”

Bio Links:

ReelSistas.com; Do You Remember Marki Bey?

Marki never achieved the level of success of many of her contemporaries.  She was once quoted as saying: “These days I’m too light to be cast as black and I’m too dark to be cast as white and I’ll be darned if I’m going out and buy one of those Afro wigs. When I auditioned for ‘Purlie’ they said I was too light. People will hire you today if you look like you just stepped off a slave ship, but my family’s just been here too long for that.” By the end of the 1970′s, Marki had left the acting world. Her last role was a guest spot on Trapper John, MD in 1979.  Marki made a rare public appearance in 2008 at  a NYC screening of The Landlord presented by John Singleton as part of the AFI Series.

Marki Bey’s IMDB

No Wiki page for Marki Bey. None that I could find, anyway. We found this surprising, so we thought we’d share.