She was born Cherlynne Richmond in Joliet, Illinois, and obtained a degree in teaching. She taught high school English briefly in Joliet, while studying theatre and dance at the University of Illinois, then, in 1971, moved to New York City where she began a prolific theater career, appearing initially in musicals such as Godspell, The Night that Made America Famous, The Magic Show, Working, and Tintypes. Her first film was Godspell in 1973. Her later work emphasized her acting over her singing abilities.
She died, unexpectedly, in Los Angeles, California. She was 54. The cause of death was "acute cardiac dysfunction, nontraumatic systemic and spontaneous intraventricular hemorrhage and hemorrhage in the brain", as well as an enlarged heart. Drugs and foul play were ruled out.
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