Marla Gibbs

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Marla Gibbs
Marla Gibbs.jpg
Gibbs in 2012.
Born Margaret Theresa Bradley
(1931-06-14) June 14, 1931 (age 85)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Nationality American
Alma mater Wendell Phillips High School
Occupation Actress, singer, comedian, writer, television producer
Years active 1973–present
Known for Florence JohnstonThe Jeffersons
Mary Jenkins – 227
Spouse(s) Jordan Gibbs (m. 1955–73)
Children 3; including Angela Gibbs
Relatives Susie Garrett (sister)
Website marlagibbs.com

Marla Gibbs (born Margaret Theresa Bradley; June 14, 1931) is an American actress, comedian, singer, writer and producer, whose career spans five decades. Gibbs is known for her role as Louise and George Jefferson's maid, Florence Johnston, in the long-running CBS sitcom, The Jeffersons (1975–85), for which she received five nominations for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. She also starred in the show's spin-off Checking In (1981), and for her leading role as Mary Jenkins in the NBC sitcom, 227 (1985–90), which she also co-produced and sang on the theme song.[1] Gibbs has won a total of seven NAACP Image Awards.[2] In later years, Gibbs played supporting roles in films The Meteor Man (1993), Lost & Found (1999), The Visit (2000), The Brothers (2001), and Madea's Witness Protection (2012).

Early life[edit]

The younger of a sister, Gibbs was born Margaret Theresa Bradley on June 14, 1931, at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, Illinois to Ophelia Birdie (née Kemp) and Douglas Bradley.[3] She attended Wendell Phillips Academy High School in the Bronzeville neighborhood on Chicago's south side graduating in 1949.[4] Shortly after high school, Gibbs moved to Detroit, Michigan where she attended Peters Business School. She worked as a reservations agent for United Airlines before relocating with her children from Detroit to Los Angeles.

Career[edit]

Gibbs, 2014.

Gibbs got her first acting job in the early 1970s, in the blaxploitation films Sweet Jesus, Preacher Man and Black Belt Jones. In 1975 she was cast as Florence Johnston, the family's maid, in the CBS comedy series The Jeffersons. For her performance on the series, Gibbs was nominated for an Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series five times, and once for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film. In 1981 she starred in the short-lived spin-off of The Jeffersons, titled Checking In.[2] Gibbs responded in a 2015 interview on Broadway Showbiz, when asked if she'd based any of her characters on real-life people: "Yes, Florence was like my aunt and grandmother so I lived it. She came easy to me so I'm like Florence in giving smart answers, but I was also shy so I wouldn't have dared to say some of the things Florence said. I prefer to do whatever I can do at the moment. Whoever's hiring me at the moment...that's what I'm supposed to do. My favorite is drama. I'm doing that now (on Scandal), but also still doing comedy on Hot in Cleveland."[5]

In 1985, when The Jeffersons was cancelled after 11 seasons, Gibbs was the lead actress in the NBC sitcom, 227. The series aired until 1990, producing 116 episodes. Two decades later, Gibbs teamed again with former 227 co-star and long-time friend Jackée Harry in The First Family, where Gibbs had a recurring role as Harry's on-screen mother Grandma Eddy. Then, she again worked with Harry in the independent film Forbidden Woman.

Gibbs had a number of supporting film roles, and guest starred on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Touched by an Angel (with longtime friend Della Reese), Judging Amy, ER, and Southland.[6] From 1998 to 2002 she had a recurring role on The Hughleys. In 2012, Gibbs appeared in the Tyler Perry film Madea's Witness Protection,[7] and in 2014 she starred in the independent film, Grantham & Rose.[8][9] In 2015, she made a cameo appearance in the episode of Shonda Rhimes' drama series, Scandal.[10] Gibbs owned a jazz club in South Central L.A. called Marla's Memory Lane Jazz and Supper Club from 1981 to 1999. As a singer, she released a number of albums.

Personal life[edit]

Gibbs was married to her high school sweetheart Jordan Gibbs from 1955 to 1973; the couple had three children:[2] Angela Gibbs, Dorian Gibbs and Joseph Gibbs. Her older sister is the late actress Susie Garrett. Her daughter Angela Gibbs is also an actress who appeared in movies such as Together Brothers, Drumline and Think Like A Man Too. On July 31, 2014, Gibbs attended the Leimert Park Village Book Fair in Los Angeles, California to pay tribute to longtime friends Maya Angelou, who died on May 28, and Ruby Dee, who died on June 11.[11] On January 11, 2016, Gibbs and former 227 co-star and long-time friend, Jackée Harry, attended the funeral of Grammy Award-winning singer Natalie Cole at the West Angeles Church of God in Christ in Los Angeles, California.[12] Gibbs co-starred opposite Cole in the TV movie Lily in Winter.

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1973 Sweet Jesus, Preacherman Beverly Solomon
1974 Black Belt Jones Bartender Uncredited
1975 The Missing Are Deadly Nurse Television film
1977 Passing Through Secretary
1979 You Can't Take It with You Rheba Television film
1990 Menu for Murder Marty Hallard Television film
1991 Up Against the Wall Louise Bradley
1991 Last Breeze of Summer Short film
1993 The Meteor Man Maxine Reed
1994 Lily in Winter Maize Covington
1998 Border to Border Dela
1999 Foolish Odetta
1999 Lost & Found Enid
2000 The Visit Lois Waters Method Fest Independent Film Festival Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated — NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
Nominated — Black Reel Award for Best Supporting Actress
2000 Stanley's Gig Eleanor Whitney
2001 The Brothers Mary West
2005 Love on Layaway Narrator
2006 The Ties That Bind Delores Short film
2006 The Heart Specialist Ms. Overwood
2009 The What Goes Around Ms. Lacey Short film
2009 Afro Ninja Aunt Mary
2009 Just Like Family Mabel Jenkins
2009 Devil's Land Judge Martha M. Levine
2010 Sunnyview Mrs. Harris Short film
2012 Who Killed Soul Glow?
2012 C'mon Man Mrs. Crabtree
2012 Madea's Witness Protection Hattie
2013 Forbidden Woman Mrs. Simmons
2014 Grantham & Rose Rose Price
2015 The Man in 3B Ms. Mamie

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1975 Barney Miller Mrs. McBee Episode: "Vigilante"
1976 Arthur Hailey's The Moneychangers Beth Euphrates Miniseries
1981 Checking In Florence Johnston Series regular, 4 episodes
1981 The Love Boat Janet Dalton Episode: "The Incredible Hunk/Isaac, the Marriage Counselor/Jewels & Jim"
1984 Pryor's Place Miss Stern 3 episodes
1975-1985 The Jeffersons Florence Johnston Series regular, 207 episodes
NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (1981-1985)
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film (1985)
Nominated — TV Land Award for Favorite Made-for-TV Maid
1985-1990 227 Mary Jenkins Series regular, 115 episodes
1993 A Different World Principal Shaw Episode: "To Whit, with Love"
1993 In the Heat of the Night Lilly Baker Episode: "A Baby Called Rocket"
1993 Empty Nest Josephine Douglas Episode: "Mother Dearest"
1995 Dream On Mrs. Perry Episode: "Little Orphan Eddie"
1995 Martin Miss Minnie Episode: "Housekeeper from Hell"
Nominated — NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
1996 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Florence Johnston Episode: "I, Done: Part 2"
1997-1998 101 Dalmatians: The Series Duchess (voice) 8 episodes
1999 Martial Law Dolores Parker 2 episodes
1999 Dawson's Creek Mrs. Fran Boyd Episode: "First Encounters of the Close Kind"
2000 Touched by an Angel Millie Episode: "The Invitation"
Nominated — NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series
2001 Judging Amy Zella Van Exel Episode: "Between the Wanting and the Getting"
2002 The King of Queens Nana Louise Episode: "Patrons Ain't"
1998-2002 The Hughleys Hattie Mae Hughley 16 episodes
2002 The Rerun Show Dr. Beamish Episode: "The Facts of Life: Shoplifting/The Jeffersons: A Bedtime Story"
2004 Passions Aunt Irma Recurring role
Nominated — NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series
2004 Listen Up Jackie Widmer Episode: "Thanksgiving"
2005 ER Cherise Barnes Episode: "Only Connect"
2005 Cold Case Georgie Episode: "Best Friends"
2008 Lincoln Heights Hazel Roberson Episode: "The Day Before Tomorrow"
2011 House of Payne Florence Johnston Episode: "Curtis Jefferson"
2012 Southland Ms. Miller Episode: "Underwater"
2013 Mr. Box Office Florence Johnston Episode: "The Golden Apple"
2012-2013 The First Family Grandma Eddy 11 episodes
2014 Old Soul Agnes Pilot
2015 Scandal Rose 2 episodes
2015 Hot in Cleveland Marcia Episode: "Cleveland Calendar Girls"
2015 American Horror Story: Hotel Cassie Royale Episode: "She Wants Revenge"
2016 Childrens Hospital Flossie Episode: "Doctor Beth"
2016 The Carmichael Show Frances Episode: "Funeral"

References[edit]

  1. ^ Encyclopedia of African American Actresses in Film and Television. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c "Marla Gibbs". Yahoo Movies. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  3. ^ "Marla Gibbs Biography (1931?-)". Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  4. ^ Maudlyne Ihejirika. "HistoryMakers-bringing-actress-Marla-Gibbs-to-Phillips-High - Chicago Sun-Times". Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  5. ^ "Interview With Marla Gibbs". BroadwayWeekly.com. 2015-02-14. Retrieved November 10, 2015. 
  6. ^ "Marla Gibbs to Guest-Star on Southland". TV Guide. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  7. ^ "Latest Church & Entertainment News". The Church Lady Blogs. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  8. ^ "Marla Gibbs set for 'Grantham and Rose'". Variety. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  9. ^ Tambay A. Obenson (20 November 2013). "Watch Marla Gibbs, Tessa Thompson, Jake T. Austin In Trai - Shadow and Act". Shadow and Act. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  10. ^ http://tvline.com/2015/02/05/scandal-season-4-recap-fitz-declares-war-to-save-olivia/
  11. ^ http://flcourier.com/2014/07/31/l-a-book-fair-to-honor-maya-angelou-ruby-dee/
  12. ^ "La Me Ln Chaka Khan Natalie Cole Funeral". Los Angeles Times. 2016-01-11. Retrieved 18 February 2016. 

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