Meet the extraordinary Myrna Colley Lee, a renowned theater costume designer, philanthropist, and dedicated art patron, whose name resonates far beyond her association with the acclaimed actor Morgan Freeman.

Recognized for her outstanding contributions to the Black Theater Movement, Colley Lee’s talent has graced numerous exhibitions across the nation, showcasing her mesmerizing renderings, collages, and costumes. Likewise, her designs have been in esteemed art institutions such as the Marion Koogler McNay Art Museum’s Tobin Collection of Theater Arts and various museums in Mississippi.

Delve into the remarkable story of Myrna, from her influential role in the 1960s Black Movement to her current endeavors.

Myrna Colley Lee, Wiki/Bio: Early Life and Education

Born in February 1941, Myrna Colley Lee, the former wife of esteemed actor Morgan Freeman, hails from the small town of Hamlet, North Carolina. This talented artist, now 81 years old, embarked on a remarkable journey that took her from the serene landscapes of her hometown to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood.

Colley Lee pursued her passion for the arts, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree from the Women’s College of the University of North Carolina. Though, it is now known as the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She further honed her skills in scene painting and properties at Brooklyn College, New York, before obtaining her Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in scenic and costume design from Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during the early 1980s.

Myrna’s High-Profile Marriage With Morgan Freeman

Their marriage was a product of fate, as Myrna Colley Lee and Morgan Freeman got to know each other through a mutual friend. Likewise, their connection quickly grew into a deep and meaningful relationship, leading them to exchange vows in mid-June 1984.

Myrna Colley Lee and Morgan Freeman.
Myrna Colley Lee and Morgan Freeman. Source: Pinterest

As their love story unfolded, the couple chose to reside near Tallahatchie County in Northern Mississippi, where they carved out a tranquil haven for their shared lives.

Together, they experienced the joys and challenges that come with any marriage, building a bond rooted in mutual respect and admiration. However, as time passed, their journey took a different turn, eventually leading to their separation in the later years.

Despite the changes that occurred, the marriage of Myrna and Morgan Freeman remains a testament to the complexity of relationships and the enduring power of love.

Morgan Freeman and Myrna Colley Lee’s Divorce Journey

After a long and seemingly solid marital journey, Morgan Freeman and Myrna Colley Lee decided to part ways, with their separation officially taking place in December 2007. The news of their breakup came amidst Freeman’s car accident in Mississippi in August 2008, drawing significant media attention.

Likewise, the divorce filings occurred in July 2008, and the couple finalized their divorce in 2010 in Mississippi. However, the exact reasons for their separation were never got public. Though, rumors circulated that Freeman’s alleged infidelity played a role.

Speculations suggested that Freeman had been with one of Colley-Lee’s friends and even claimed an affair with his step-granddaughter, E’Dena Hines. Though, Freeman vehemently denied these allegations. The divorce proceedings, reportedly without a trial, concluded, leaving behind various speculations and a significant financial impact.

Do They Have Children Together?

Myrna Colley Lee did not have children of her own. Though, her connection with Morgan Freeman’s children from previous relationships was deeply cherished. She embraced them as her own, nurturing a strong and loving bond.

Morgan Freeman with his daughters Deena and Morgana.
Morgan Freeman with his daughters Deena and Morgana. Source: Pinterest

Colley Lee and the renowned actor reportedly adopted Morgana Freeman, the daughter of Freeman’s first wife, Jeanette Adair Bradshaw, as well as E’dena Hines, Freeman’s step-granddaughter. Additionally, they played an integral role in raising Alfonso Rene Freeman, Morgan’s child with Loletha Adkins, and acted as guardians to Saifoulaye Freeman, another son from one of Morgan’s previous relationships.

Their relationship transcended biological ties, exemplifying the depth of love and care within their blended family. Join us as we explore the unique dynamics of Colley Lee’s role as a nurturing figure to Morgan Freeman’s children, illuminating the profound bond they shared beyond conventional kinship.

A Look Into Myrna’s Net Worth

The precise net worth of Myrna Colley Lee remains private. However, her life has undoubtedly been luxurious and financially stable due to her marriage to Morgan Freeman and the subsequent divorce settlement. Her successful career as a costume designer further suggests that she has amassed a considerable amount of wealth.

While the exact figures elude public knowledge, it is evident that Myrna has enjoyed financial prosperity throughout her life. Likewise, thanks to her multifaceted achievements and her association with one of Hollywood’s iconic figures.

The specifics of the financial settlement between Myrna Lee and Morgan Freeman in their divorce vary depending on the source. While some claim that Colley Lee received amounts ranging from hundreds of millions to as high as $400 million. However, the latter figure seems unsubstantiated as Freeman’s reported net worth has not reached such astronomical levels.

However, most publications agree that Colley Lee received a significant sum in the divorce settlement, with the general consensus stating that it was no less than $100 million. It is worth noting that Morgan Freeman remains one of Hollywood’s wealthiest figures, with a net worth exceeding $250 million.

The exact details of the financial arrangement have not been public. Likewise, it leaves room for speculation and differing accounts regarding the precise amount received by Colley Lee. Also, know about Paolo Montalban‘s wife, who was in the series created by Morgan Freeman.

Myrna Colley Lee’s Journey as a Costume Designer

Colley Lee’s passion for costume design ignited at a young age, setting the stage for a remarkable career in the field. Early in her professional journey, she showcased her talent by designing costumes for the film “It Is Weird” and contributing her creative vision to the play “Long Day’s Journey into The Night.”

Myrna Colley Lee is the first wife of Morgan Freeman.
Myrna Colley Lee is the first wife of Morgan Freeman. Source: Pinterest

The talented Myrna’s expertise extended to a range of notable productions, including “Relativity” at the Black Rep in St. Louis, Missouri, “The Piano Lesson,” and “Forest City” at the Cleveland Playhouse in Ohio.

Colley Lee’s remarkable contributions to the world of theater also included serving as a designer for August Wilson’s play “Radio Golf” at the Public Theater in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her dedication and artistic prowess made her an integral part of the Black Theater Movement, solidifying her reputation as a talented costume designer and propelling her toward future success.

Myrna’s Impact on the Black Theater Movement and Art Exhibitions

Myrna Lee’s contributions to the world of theater extend far beyond her talent as a costume designer. She played a significant role during the Black Theater movement in the late 20th century, designing costumes for pivotal plays during a time when the movement faced limited funding and support.

The hardworking Colley Lee’s dedication to showcasing the richness of Black culture and history through her craft was evident in her work. With over 100 shows to her credit, Colley Lee’s designs have graced regional theaters, leaving an indelible mark on the theater landscape.

Beyond her design work, Colley Lee’s influence in the arts extends to various advisory and board positions. She serves as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Mississippi Arts Commission and sits on the Acquisitions Committee of the Mississippi Museum of Art.

Additionally, Myran works with organizations such as the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the Department of Art and Architecture at Mississippi State University. Her outstanding contributions have been recognized with an Honorary Doctorate in Creative Arts from Mississippi State University.
Colley Lee’s artistic works have been in numerous exhibitions and events.

Notable displays include Myrna’s permanent collection of clothing and costumes at the Mississippi State University Library, as well as prestigious exhibitions in San Antonio, Detroit, and the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson.

Colley Lee’s designs have been in exhibitions like “Songs of Social Significance” at the San Antonio Tobin Collection Gallery of The McNay Museum in 2012 and the 2006 major exhibition at the Mississippi Museum of Art titled “GladRags: Sketches, Swatches, and Costume Designs.” Through her art, Myrna continues to leave a lasting impact on the world of theater and beyond.

Philanthropic Endeavors

Beyond her remarkable career as a costume designer, Myrna has also made significant contributions to the world of philanthropy. In 2017, she played a pivotal role in organizing an art gallery at the Columbus Museum in Georgia, which focused on celebrating Afro-American life and culture. This endeavor showcased her commitment to fostering appreciation and understanding of diverse artistic expressions.

Additionally, in 2006, Colley Lee founded SonEdna, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and celebrating literary arts and writers of all genres and backgrounds. Through SonEdna, she has created a platform that uplifts and supports the literary community, nurturing creativity and providing opportunities for writers to showcase their work.

Celebrating Myrna Colley Lee’s Remarkable Awards and Achievements

Myrna Lee, the accomplished costume designer, philanthropist, and arts advocate, has garnered a multitude of prestigious awards and recognition throughout her illustrious career.

Among her notable achievements, Colley-Lee has been bestowed with the Outstanding Costume Design award from The National Black Theater Festival, a testament to her exceptional skill in bringing characters to life through her intricate costume designs.

Myrna Colley Lee has garnered a multitude of prestigious awards throughout her illustrious career.
Myrna Colley Lee has garnered a multitude of prestigious awards throughout her illustrious career. Source: Pinterest

The Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters has recognized Myrna’s immense contributions by honoring her with their Lifetime Achievement Award. Another significant accolade in her repertoire is the Doctor of Creative Arts title conferred upon her by Mississippi State University, highlighting her exceptional artistic prowess.

In 2022, Colley Lee was presented with the Governor’s Arts Award for “Excellence in Costume Design and Arts Patron” by the Mississippi Senate.

Her remarkable career has garnered additional accolades, including the Wynona Lee Fletcher Award for Outstanding Achievement as a Designer from the Black Theater Network, the Honored Artist recognition from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the esteemed Lifetime Achievement Award from the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters.

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