."We had a love so strong, it was like we were one." -to Vanessa, Lisa & Victoria


Myrtle Simmons is a minor supporting character in the franchise, only having a total of three appearances and four mentions. She is the loving, devout Christian mother of Helen, Jackie and Gina, grandmother of Jackie's unborn baby, and widow of William Simmons. This, in turn, makes her Madea's daughter-in-law, which is a bit of a comic continuity error because Madea and Myrtle appear to be the same age. Either Myrtle is younger than she looks and hasn't been taking care of herself, or William had a thing for older women. She is portrayed by Tamela Mann in Diary of a Mad Black Woman (play) and portrayed by Cicely Tyson in the films. She is described to be a very kindhearted, loving woman.


Sometime before the film's spot on the story's timeline, Myrtle met and married Madea's only son, William Simmons. It is unknown what Myrtle's early years were like. During their marriage, they produced three daughters; eldest Helen, middle child Jackie, and college-aged Gina (Gina is the only one that has never made a physical appearance in the franchise, but it is mentioned that Helen and Charles are putting her through school). By the time the film begins, Helen's husband, Charles McCarter, makes Helen move her mother into a retirement home because he does not vision taking care of her as part of an American dream. As long as they were married, Charles was paying towards her mother's stay in the nursing home. Myrtle attends church frequently in a shuttle van provided by the home. It is shown that despite her husband being deceased, Myrtle still retains a good relationship with her mother-in-law, as she made a visit to Madea's house. She appears to be unaware (or ignoring) Madea's criminal history, as she is unsure of why Madea's house arrest bracelet is on her dog's ankle instead of hers (Madea did not want to wear it, so she put it on the dog so it looks like she doesn't leave the house).

I Can Do Bad All By Myself (Play)Edit

Myrtle didn't make an actual appearance, but is mentioned once in the beginning. She is mentioned by Madea's granddaughter Vianne as "Aunt Myrtle" (William was the brother of Vianne's deceased mother, Michelle) when trying to get Madea's attention to answer the phone. Madea, high on marijuana, repeatedly replies with "Who?" and misinterprets Vianne's accented way of saying "Aunt Myrtle" with her saying that someone was murdered, and with the rapper C-Murder. Myrtle called because she was concerned about Madea's off-screen health scare (her blood sugar went up too high and nearly sent her into a coma). Vianne picks up the phone and briefly talks her before she asks for Madea. Madea finally receives the phone call after stalling (she was caught when Vianne sarcastically said, "Aunt Myrtle, Madea said she ain't here", much to Madea's chagrin) and talks to her daughter-in-law reluctantly. After asking how Madea is doing, Myrtle insists on praying over her mother-in-law over the phone, Madea puts the phone down and smokes a cigarette, not listening to Myrtle's prayer. She only picks the phone back up to shout "Hallelujah", sending Myrtle into speaking in tongues and making both Madea and Vianne laugh. After her prayer is done, Myrtle asks Madea if she can borrow some money. Madea says, "Why don't you pray about that and tell me what the lord says." Vianne chastises Madea for being so rude, to which Madea simply shrugs it off and says that Myrtle's prayer has no power. Once the phone call is over, Myrtle is not mentioned any further by anyone else.

Diary of a Mad Black Woman (Play)Edit

Myrtle makes her debut appearance in the play. In contrast to her later appearances, she is portrayed as a woman possibly in her mid-to-late 50s, yet is sill a devoted mother to her daughter Helen. Helen is initially upset, due to her unseen friend having a baby shower and Helen being unable to conceive. Myrtle is there to offer her daughter a word of encouragement, saying that in time she will be blessed with a beautiful baby. Myrtle is also oblivious to the fact that Helen has been hit by Charles, as Helen lies about her black eye and says that it was due to her hitting her head on the cabinet in the kitchen. This was later disputed by Helen's father-in-law Daddy Charles, due to the cabinet being too high up for to hit her head. When Madea makes her first appearance, frantically bursting into the house and looking for Charles with her gun drawn, she says that Myrtle was the one that told her that Charles left Helen for Brenda and asked for a divorce. Myrtle and Madea are shown to be very close, not only as mother-in-law and daughter-in-law but also as friends. In contrast to her film appearances, Myrtle refers to Madea by her first name, Mabel, whereas in the films she calls her Madea like everyone else. Myrtle, like many other characters, is shown to make several failed attempts to open Madea's eyes to the teachings of the Bible, which Madea takes with a grain of salt and puts her own secular humorous spin on. Towards the end of the play, Myrtle is also the one that informs Helen of Charles's accident that left him paralyzed, which Helen initially does not care about. She attempts to get Helen to change her mind, which sparks a disrespectful response from Helen and makes Myrtle put Helen in her place, reminding her of the hardships that she had to go through to raise Helen and her siblings. During this conversation, it was revealed that Myrtle was a housekeeper for a white household in order to pay for Helen and her sister Gina (for some reason, Jackie is not mentioned in the play) to go to school, and how there were times that she would not eat because there was only enough food for her daughters. Helen then apologizes, and prays with her mom before Charles is brought to the house by Brenda, who refuses to care for him. Helen then verbally abuses Charles and pushes him into the shower, unbeknownst to her mother who thinks that Charles managed to get into the shower by himself. Towards the end of the play, Myrtle encourages Helen to pray for a solution when she is forced to choose between Charles and Orlando, which results in Myrtle asking Charles if he will love Helen the right way forever, to which he says he will. The two reconcile, and begin their marriage again.

Diary of a Mad Black Woman (Film) Edit

Myrtle makes her debut appearance in the film. She is shown as a sweet old woman, living peacefully in a nursing home. Helen visits her in the nursing home with a few items. She informs her daughter that they talked to her about the overdue bill and that Madea told her about what happened between her and Charles. Also, Myrtle makes it clear that Charles does not care for her and he will not pay it. Helen assures her mother she will somehow get it paid.

When Helen brings her mother to Madea's house, Joe flirts with her saying that he has some Viagra implying that he wants to have sex with her. This is not the first time Joe has made incestuous passes at the women in the family (he's done the same to his grandniece Helen, as well as his niece Victoria). She also lets him know that she has mace and is not wanting to have sex with him. Joe deems her as mean as a snake while laughing with her turning down his advance. Myrtle speaks about Bible while Madea and Joe make jokes about the bible, Charles, and the fact that Helen has moved on with Orlando. Myrtle is careful not to judge her daughter, but offers her a bit of advice, saying, "Baby, don't you open the door before you close the other one. You hear me?"

At the end of the movie, she witnesses her daughter finally leave Charles with the divorce papers peacefully and she was proud out how gracefully she handled it due to what he put her through.

Madea's Family Reunion (Film)Edit

Myrtle appears in the dining room of Aunt Ruby's house talking to other female family members when Vanessa and Lisa walk in the room. They wonder where Lisa's fiance is and when they are going to be able to meet him. As they converse, Lisa and Vanessa's mother, Victoria Breaux, walks into the room. Myrtle continues and leads the conversation along with other family members at the table talking about true love.

Myrtle remarks goes onto say that she shared a love so strong with William that it seemed they were one soul. She believes that she was not only blessed, but divinely favored that she was able to spend time with a man that God designed himself solely for her. She recalls how she would get ready to tell him something, and he would say it before she got a chance to. She also said that when she would lay on his chest, his heartbeat matched hers. William is once again mentioned to be deceased when Myrtle tearfully sighs, "The rhythm's off, and now he's gone."

Later on at the family reunion, after seeing corruption of her family with young black men gambling and black women disrespecting themselves and others with their lack of apparel, she calls the family together to gather. She says the people that owned the cabin were slaves that gave birth to their generation. She asks were did the disrespect come from, and where did their humble roots of family go? In her speech, she reaches her family with her faith, devotion and convinces her family to look at themselves and reach to find their humble roots of family and respect. She bids them blessings and ask each other to turn to the next family member, hug them, and tell them they love them.

Myrtle's last appearance is at Vanessa's wedding seemingly very proud and secretly whispering to another family member in fun at Vanessa to due to how nervous in love she is with Franky as she walks down the isle.


  • "God is your everything. Don't you know he's a jealous God. He don't want no man before him!" -to Helen.
  • "Baby, don't you open the door before you close the other one. You hear me? -to Helen
  • "We had a love so strong, it was like we were one." -to Vanessa, Lisa & Victoria


  • Madea (mother-in-law)
  • William Simmons (deceased husband)
  • Helen (daughter)
  • Gina (daughter)
  • Jackie (daughter)
  • Victoria Breaux (cousin-in-law)
  • Vanessa Breaux (second cousin-in-law)
  • Lisa Breaux (second cousin-in-law)



  • In the film, Helen is her only child.
  • In the film, because she had Helen at 39 years of age and Helen is at-least 36 years of age, making Myrtle approximately 75 years of age and Madea's age.
  • In the play, Myrtle would be in her 50s having Helen in her late teens or early twenties and her sister throughout her twenties before her husband died.
  • She is a family member that gets news around by the family. It is possible in the play that she is the family member that told everyone about Madea being sick. In the film, she is the one to host the family reunion and give the other history of their family.
  • In the play, for some unexplained reason, Myrtle's last name is Miller. This may be Myrtle's maiden name, which she could have went back to using after William's death.