Remembered for his Tony Award-winning direction of the original Broadway production of Fences, as well as for his Tony-nominated work on The Piano Lesson and A Raisin in the Sun, Richards served as Dean of the Yale University School of Drama and Director of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Playwrights Conference.
His studies at Wayne University were briefly interrupted by his service in World War II with the United States Army Air Force.
He was a 1993 recipient of the National Medal of Arts and the 2002 winner of The Dorothy and
Born in Ontario, Canada, of paternal Jamaican descent, he spent the bulk of his childhood in Detroit, Michigan. His marriage to Barbara Davenport produced sons named Scott and Thomas.
Known for championing the work and building the careers of many African-American playwrights, Richards directed the original Broadway production of the August Wilson play Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.