Phylicia Rashad has become the first black woman to win best actress at the US theatre's Tony Awards on Sunday, hosted by fellow winner Hugh Jackman.
Hugh Jackman and Phylicia Rashad were two of the night's big winners
Rashad, who played Bill Cosby's wife in TV's The Cosby Show, won best leading actress for A Raisin in the Sun.
Australian film star Hugh Jackman won best leading actor in a musical.
Jackman, a star of the X-Men movies, won for his flamboyant portrayal of showman Peter Allen in the musical The Boy From Oz.
"Often I've wondered what does it take for this to happen?" said Rashad, 55. "And now I know. It takes effort and grace, tremendous self-effort and amazing grace."
Accepting his prize, Jackman said: "Peter, it's an honour to play you and I dedicate this Tony to your memory."
Actor Jefferson Mays beat better-known rivals Kevin Kline, Christopher Plummer and Frank Langella to take the best actor prize for his role in the play I Am My Own Wife.
The play, about an East German transvestite, saw the actor perform 40 different roles.
Rashad's co-star Audra McDonald won best featured actress, while a third black actress, Anika Noni Rose, won best featured actress in a musical for her part in the play Caroline, or Change.
"It's been a season where African-American women really have been given a chance to have a voice, probably more than ever before," said McDonald as she accepted her award.
Hugh Jackman played entertainer Peter Allen in The Boy From Oz
The trophy for best musical went to Avenue Q, a part-puppet show that also won best musical score.
Best actress in a musical went to Idina Menzel for her role as the green witch in the Broadway hit Wicked.
The musical had garnered 10 nominations for the Tonys, but walked away with only three awards - it also won best scenic design and best costume design.