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Marsha Warfield's Life after 'Night Court', Including Her Coming out and Comedy Career

Manuela Cardiga
Mar 02, 2020
08:00 A.M.
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Marsha Warfield revealed her struggle to come out, and her inspiration for her comedy career.

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Fans of the 80s/ 90s comedy "Night Court" will remember Marsha Warfield best as the feisty and mouthy bailiff, who harangued her colleagues and even Judge Harold "Harry" T. Stone with her razor-sharp wit.

28 years after the end of the series, Marsha is still feisty, still sharp-witted, and still making the audiences of her comedy show laugh - but under the laughter was profound sadness.

Her greatest sorrow was knowing that her mother was ashamed of her, and dreaded people knowing that her daughter was gay.

Marsha Warfield at the 2017 LOL Comedy Honors Awards Show in New York | Source: Getty Images

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LIVING A LIE

The truth was that Marsha Warfield was gay, and even though she had come out to her mother years before, the elderly lady had made the actress promise her she would not go public with her sexual orientation until she died. Marsha revealed:

"When I told my mother I was gay, she said she knew, and had known all my life. Then, she asked me not to come out publicly while she was alive."

Marsha Warfield shouts as she performs her stand-up comedy routine on stage, October 1979 | Source: Getty Images

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Marsha was forced by that promise to hide who she really was, and live a lie - something that wounded her deeply. She said:

"I agreed, even though the request and her admission were hurtful in ways I couldn't put my finger on then, and probably haven't completely worked through now." 

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BEING HERSELF AT LAST

In 2017, Marsha revealed to the world that she was gay, years after her mother had passed away. Marsha revealed the reason for her late disclosure. She said:

"But, it (the promise) was also not the only reason I didn't come out swinging when she passed. The fear of the judgment of strangers and their holier-than-thou "shoulds" was at least as big of a burden to bear."

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Marsha's comedy act revolves around the rise of what she calls "the goddess power" and is a continuation of where her course in showbiz first began, back in 1974. She has now returned to stand up because, she confessed, she loves making people laugh.

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THE "NIGHT COURT" JINX

Marsha confessed that when she was first hired for "Night Court" she was nervous about taking the part of the bailiff because of her predecessors. Selma Diamond, 64, and Florence Halop, 63, had both died of cancer. Marsha said:

“There’s no way to say this without sounding callous, but if the two women before me had been 33-year-old black women, I would have been really nervous about taking the part.”

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FROM COMEDY TO TV

Stand-up comedian Marsha had been a comedy writer and performer the "Richard Pryor Show," but she had never done a series before. She said:

“I’m scared they’re going to find out I don’t know what I’m doing and they’re going to ask for all the money back.”

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A SUCCESSFUL CAREER IN TV

After "Night Court" where she worked up until 1992, Marsha would go on to play Dr. Maxine Douglas in the sitcom "Empty Nest" until 1995 and guested on many hit shows such as  "Riptide," "Family Ties," "Clueless," "Cheers," and  "Living Single," among others.

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LIFE IN THE MOVIES

Marsha also participated in several films, such as "Mask" with Sam Elliot and Cher - who won an Oscar for her performance, "Anything for Love" with  Erika Christensen, Paul Greene, and "Caddyshack II"  with comedy giants  Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase.

Marsha Warfield at the 2017 LOL Comedy Honors Awards Show in New York | Source: Getty Images

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LIVING HER LIFE 

Marsha, now 65, has her own comedy show and is in a loving relationship with a lady she calls "Angel" on her Instagram posts. She is a fierce advocate that no-one should have to hide who they are, or who they love.

Her greatest sorrow was knowing that her mother was ashamed of her, and dreaded people knowing that her daughter was gay.

But These days, Marsha is smiling, a real smile, with no sadness hidden, and no regrets over the life she has chosen.

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