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Marla Gibbs

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Marla Gibbs
Gibbs at the NAACP convention in 2000
Margaret Theresa Bradley

(1931-06-14) June 14, 1931 (age 93)
  • Actress
  • singer
  • comedian
  • writer
  • television producer
Years active1973–present
Known forFlorence JohnstonThe Jeffersons
Mary Jenkins – 227
Jordan Gibbs
(m. 1955; div. 1973)
RelativesSusie Garrett (sister)

Marla Gibbs (born Margaret Bradley; June 14, 1931)[1] is an American actress, singer, comedian, writer, and television producer whose career spans seven decades. Gibbs is known for her role as George Jefferson's maid, Florence Johnston, on the CBS sitcom The Jeffersons (1975–1985), for which she received five nominations for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.

Gibbs also starred on the show's spin-off Checking In (1981) and the NBC sitcom 227 (1985–1990); Gibbs coproduced the latter series, played the lead role of Mary Jenkins, and sang the theme song.[2] Gibbs has won seven NAACP Image Awards.[3] In later years, Gibbs played supporting roles in films The Meteor Man (1993), Lost & Found (1999), The Visit (2000), The Brothers (2001), Madea's Witness Protection (2012), Grantham & Rose (2015), and Lemon (2017) and on the Shondaland-produced TV shows Station 19 (2018) and Grey's Anatomy (2022). In August 2021, Gibbs began playing Olivia Price on the NBC daytime drama Days of Our Lives. She also played Sweet Gam Gam on The Thundermans.



Early life and education


Marla Gibbs was born Margaret Bradley in Chicago, Illinois, at Cook County Hospital. The middle of three sisters, Gibbs was raised in the Bronzeville neighborhood on the city's south side. Her father, Douglas Bradley of Waterproof, Louisiana (d. 1947), was
a self-taught mechanic of Jamaican ancestry who owned an ice company. Her mother, Ophelia Birdie (née Kemp; d. 1967) was a businesswoman of Haitian descent who occasionally ran numbers in the gambling trade.[citation needed] In 1936, Gibbs's parents divorced. Her mother married Charles Cady and relocated to Detroit. Gibbs and her siblings remained in Chicago with their father and grandmother Hattie Sims.

Gibbs attended Corpus Christi Elementary School.[4] After graduating from Corpus Christi in 1945, Gibbs attended St. Elizabeth High School, where she completed her freshman year and the first semester of her sophomore year. During the middle of her sophomore year, Gibbs transferred to Wendell Phillips Academy High School. When she was 16, her father died and Gibbs was sent to live with her mother and stepfather in Detroit where she attended Northern High School for a semester during her junior year.[4] After months in Detroit, Gibbs returned to Chicago, re-enrolling at Phillips where she graduated in June 1949.[5][6] Several years later, Gibbs returned to Detroit, Michigan, where she attended Peters Business School.[citation needed]



In 1963, Gibbs relocated to Los Angeles to recuperate from an ulcer and began working as a reservations agent for United Airlines.[7] She first acted in local Los Angeles black theater before she 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 in the CBS comedy series The Jeffersons as Florence Johnston, the family's maid. For the first two years with CBS, Gibbs continued working for United Airlines.[7][8] She would work at CBS during the day and then leave for her second job, where she worked the night shift.[7] When the series became an established success, CBS requested that she take a leave of absence from her United job.[8] Gibbs's performance on the series garnered her five nominations for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series and one nomination for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film.

In 1981, she starred in a short-lived spin-off of The Jeffersons titled Checking In.[3] 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."[8]

In 1985, when The Jeffersons was cancelled after 11 seasons, Gibbs was the lead actress in the NBC sitcom 227. 227 was adapted from a play directed by Cambridge Players' then-president Ed Cambridge and was presented to NBC by Cambridge at Gibbs's Crossroads Theater in L.A. Cambridge served as artistic director. The series aired until 1990, producing 116 episodes. Two decades later, Gibbs teamed with former 227 co-star Jackée Harry in The First Family, where Gibbs had a recurring role as Harry's mother Grandma Eddy. She worked with Harry again in the independent film Forbidden Woman.

Gibbs had a number of supporting film roles. She also guest starred on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Martin, Touched by an Angel (with Della Reese), Judging Amy, ER, and Southland.[9] From 1998 - 2002 she had a recurring role on The Hughleys. Gibbs appeared in the 2012 Tyler Perry film Madea's Witness Protection,[10] and starred in the 2012 independent film Grantham & Rose.[11][12]

Gibbs in 2012

In 2015, Gibbs made two appearances in the Shonda Rhimes' drama series, Scandal.[13] She later guest starred on Hot in Cleveland, American Horror Story: Hotel and This Is Us. In 2018, she was cast in a recurring role on the ABC drama series Station 19.[14] Gibbs also had starring roles in two television pilots: Old Soul alongside Ellen Burstyn and Rita Moreno for NBC in 2014, and ABC's Jalen Vs. Everybody in 2017.[15] In film, she co-starred in Lemon and Please Stand By.

Dawnn Lewis and Marla Gibbs receiving honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees from Next Dimension University on August 17, 2019.

In 2019, Gibbs reprised her role as Florence on Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear's All in the Family and The Jeffersons, less than a month before her 88th birthday.[16]

In 2021, Gibbs began appearing as Olivia Price in a recurring role on Days of Our Lives. That same year, for her contributions to the television industry, she was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.[17]

Other ventures


From 1981 to 1999, Gibbs owned a jazz club in South Central L.A. called Marla's Memory Lane Jazz and Supper Club. She released a number of albums as a singer.[18][citation needed] In 1990, she moved her Crossroads Arts Academy and Theatre into the former Leimert Theatre in Los Angeles.[19] Plans included the construction of a second stage, but the project ended in debt in June 1997.[19][20]

Personal life


Gibbs was married to her high school sweetheart Jordan Gibbs from 1955 - 1973. The couple had three children:[3] Angela, Dorian, and Joseph. Her older sister, the late actress Susie Garrett, played Cherie's grandmother Betty Johnson on the NBC series Punky Brewster. Her daughter Angela, also an actress, appeared on Sanford and Son and in films 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 to pay tribute to Maya Angelou, who died on May 28, and Ruby Dee, who died on June 11.[21] On January 11, 2016, Gibbs and former 227 co-star Jackée Harry attended the funeral of Grammy Award-winning singer Natalie Cole at the West Angeles Church of God in Christ in Los Angeles.[22] Gibbs co-starred opposite Cole in the television film Lily in Winter.[23]




Denotes films that have not yet been released
Year Title Role Notes
1968 Yours, Mine and Ours Movie Patron Uncredited
1973 Sweet Jesus, Preacherman Beverly Solomon
1974 Black Belt Jones Betty Uncredited
1977 Passing Through Secretary
1991 Up Against the Wall Louise Bradley
Last Breeze of Summer Mary Short film
1993 The Meteor Man Maxine Reed
1998 Border to Border Dela
1999 Foolish Odetta
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
Stanley's Gig Eleanor Whitney
2001 The Brothers Mary West
2005 Love on Layaway Narrator
2006 The Ties That Bind Delores Short film
The Heart Specialist Mrs. Underwood
2009 The What Goes Around Ms. Lacey Short film
Afro Ninja Aunt Mary
Just Like Family Mabel Jenkins
Devil's Land Judge Martha M. Levine
2010 Sunnyview Mrs. Harris Short film
2012 Who Killed Soul Glow? Nadine
C'mon Man Mrs. Crabtree
Madea's Witness Protection Hattie
2013 Forbidden Woman Mrs. Simmons
2014 Grantham & Rose Rose Price
2015 The Man in 3B Ms. Mamie
2016 Second Sight Nana
2017 Lemon Lilly
The Last Revolutionary Millie
You Can't Fight Christmas Beverly Lawrence
2018 Please Stand By Rose
Love Jacked
2019 El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie Jean
2020 She Ball Mrs. Watts
2021 Alone Together Anna
2022 Bromates Grandma Gladys
Spirit Halloween: The Movie Grandma G
2023 A Snowy Day in Oakland Mrs. Keys


Year Title Role Notes
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
1975 Barney Miller Mrs. McBee Episode: "Vigilante"
The Missing Are Deadly Nurse Television film
1976 Arthur Hailey's The Moneychangers Beth Euphrates Miniseries
1979 You Can't Take It with You Rheba Television film
1981 Checking In Florence Johnston Series regular, 4 episodes
The Love Boat Janet Dalton Episode: "The Incredible Hunk/Isaac, the Marriage Counselor/Jewels & Jim"
1983 The Young Landlords Tina Robinson Television film
1984 Pryor's Place Miss Stern Episodes: "Voyage to the Planet of the Dumb", "Sax Education" and "The Showoff"
1985–1990 227 Mary Jenkins Series regular, 115 episodes
1990 Menu for Murder Marty Hallard Television film
1993 A Different World Principal Shaw Episode: "To Whit, with Love"
In the Heat of the Night Lilly Baker Episode: "A Baby Called Rocket"
Empty Nest Josephine Douglas Episode: "Mother Dearest"
1994 Lily in Winter Maize Covington Television film
1995 Dream On Mrs. Perry Episode: "Little Orphan Eddie"
Burke's Law Jessica Wallace Episode: "Who Killed the Hollywood Headshrinker?"
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 Mother Goose: A Rappin' and Rhymin' Special Old Mother Hubbard (voice) Television film
1997–1998 101 Dalmatians: The Series Duchess (voice) Supporting role, 9 episodes
1997; 1999 Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child Old Mother Hubbard / Grandmother (voice) Episodes: "Mother Goose" and "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves"
1998–2002 The Hughleys Hattie Mae Hughley Recurring role, 16 episodes
1999 Martial Law Dolores Parker / Dolores Samuels Episodes: "Wild Life" and "Big Trouble"
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"
The Rerun Show Dr. Beamish Episode: "The Facts of Life: Shoplifting/The Jeffersons: A Bedtime Story"
Arli$$ Mrs. Jones Episode: "Profiles in Agenting"
2004 Listen Up Jackie Widmer Episode: "Thanksgiving"
2004–2005 Passions Aunt Irma Recurring role, 14 episodes
Nominated — NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series
2005 ER Cherise Barnes Episode: "Only Connect"
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"
2012–2013 The First Family Grandma Eddy Recurring role, 11 episodes
2013 Mr. Box Office Florence Johnston Episode: "The Golden Apple"
2014 Old Soul Agnes Television film
Charlie Murphy’s Law Vera Jenkins Episode: "Reunions"
2015 Scandal Rose Episodes: "Where's the Black Lady?" and "The Testimony of Diego Muñoz"
Hot in Cleveland Marcia Episode: "Cleveland Calendar Girls"
American Horror Story: Hotel Cassie Royale Episode: "She Wants Revenge"
2016 Childrens Hospital Flossie Episode: "Doctor Beth"
Second Sight Nana Television film
2016–2017 The Carmichael Show Francis Episodes: "The Funeral" and "Grandma Francis"
2017 Jalen Vs. Everybody Grammie Television film
This Is Us Theresa Episode: "I Call Marriage"
Teachers Mrs. Potts Episode: "Snap Judgement"
Trial & Error Mrs. Kratt Episodes: "A Wrench in the Case" and "A Hostile Jury"
2017–2018 Black-ish Mabel Episodes: "I’m a Survivor" and "North Star"
2018 Beyond Edna Episode: "Six Feet Deep"
The Thundermans Sweet Gam Gam Episode: "Cookie Mistake"
Station 19 Edith Episodes: "Invisible to Me", "Reignited" and "Let It Burn"
Rel Miss Jenkins Episode: "Laundry Room"
NCIS Rosie Brown Episode: "Beneath the Surface"
2019 The Neighborhood Miss Simpson Episode: "Welcome To The Yard Sale"
Live in Front of a Studio Audience Florence Johnston Episode: “Norman Lear's All in the Family and The Jeffersons”
A Black Lady Sketch Show Mary Jenkins Episode: "3rd & Bonaparte Is Always in the Shade"
One Fine Christmas Alice Television film
Bless This Mess Belle Episode: "Goose Glazing Time"
2020 One Day at a Time Mrs. Jones Episode: "One Halloween at a Time"[24]
The Last O.G. Mama Jarvis Episode: "Ballin"
2021 Young Sheldon Doris Episode: "The Geezer Bus and a New Model for Education"
Big Shot Destiny’s Grandmother Episode: "Kalm Korn"
Partners in Rhyme Anita Episode: "Happy Holidays"
2021–present Days of Our Lives Olivia Price Recurring role, 11 episodes
2022 Grey's Anatomy Joyce Ward Episode: "Wasn’t Expecting That", "Let’s Talk About Sex" and "Happily Ever After?"
2023 The Ms. Pat Show Miss Pearl Episode: "Twenty Seven Side Pieces"
2023 History of the World: Part II Ruby Seale Episodes: "II", "V", "VIII"
2024 Not Dead Yet Nana Sugar season 2 episode 7 "Not in the Game Yet"


  1. ^ International Television & Video Almanac. University of Michigan. 2007. p. 186. ISBN 9780900610813.
  2. ^ McCann, Bob (October 30, 2009). Encyclopedia of African American Actresses in Film and Television. McFarland. ISBN 9780786458042. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c "Marla Gibbs". Yahoo Movies. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  4. ^ a b The HistoryMakers, Marla Gibbs.Retrieved November 18, 2021.
  5. ^ Dawn Rhodes (September 23, 2011). "Actress, flier share life lessons at Bronzeville high school". Chicago Tribune.
  6. ^ Ihejirika, Maudlyne. "HistoryMakers-bringing-actress-Marla-Gibbs-to-Phillips-High". Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  7. ^ a b c Hall, Carla (October 30, 1978). "Marla Gibbs, Maid for TV". Washington Post. Retrieved February 4, 2022.
  8. ^ a b c "Interview With Marla Gibbs". BroadwayWeekly.com. February 14, 2015. Retrieved November 10, 2015.
  9. ^ "Marla Gibbs to Guest-Star on Southland". TV Guide. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  10. ^ "Latest Church & Entertainment News". The Church Lady Blogs. Archived from the original on October 13, 2013. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  11. ^ "Marla Gibbs set for 'Grantham and Rose'". Variety. August 2, 2012. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  12. ^ Obenson, Tambay A. (November 20, 2013). "Watch Marla Gibbs, Tessa Thompson, Jake T. Austin In Trai - Shadow and Act". Shadow and Act. Archived from the original on December 4, 2014. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  13. ^ Webb, Matt (February 5, 2015). "'Scandal' Season 4 Recap — Fitz Declares War to Save Olivia". TVLine.com. Retrieved June 17, 2017.
  14. ^ Hipes, Patrick (March 6, 2018). "'Station 19': Marla Gibbs Set For Multi-Episode Arc On ABC's 'Grey's Spinoff". Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  15. ^ Schwindt, Oriana (February 6, 2017). "Jalen Rose ABC Comedy Pilot Casts Anna Maria Horsford, Marla Gibbs". Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  16. ^ Roots, Kimberly (May 23, 2019). "The Jeffersons Vet Marla Gibbs Reprises Role of Florence in Surprise Appearance". TVLine. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  17. ^ "MARLA GIBBS ON HER DAYS RUN". soapoperadigest.com. Odyssey Magazine Publishing Group Inc. August 30, 2021. Retrieved November 18, 2021.
  18. ^ Butler, Bethonie (March 12, 2015). "Why Marla Gibbs of 'Scandal' and 'The Jeffersons' won't tell you her age". Washington Post. Retrieved January 15, 2023.
  19. ^ a b Shirley, Don (June 21, 1990). "Ambitious Plans for Marla Gibbs' Crossroads Facility : Theater: The TV star moves her Crossroads Academy to a new home and launches a fund-raising drive". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 15, 2021.
  20. ^ "Gibb's theatrical vision sinks under pile of debt". Deseret News. August 22, 1997. Retrieved November 15, 2021.
  21. ^ "L.A. Book fair to honor Maya Angelou, Ruby Dee | Florida Courier". Archived from the original on January 1, 2015. Retrieved December 2, 2014.
  22. ^ "La Me Ln Chaka Khan Natalie Cole Funeral". Los Angeles Times. January 11, 2016. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  23. ^ "Lily In Winter (TV Movie 1994)". IMDb.com. IMDb, Inc. Retrieved November 18, 2021.
  24. ^ Schwartz, Ryan (February 27, 2020). "One Day at a Time: Marla Gibbs Cast in Season 4 Halloween Episode, Reuniting With Jeffersons Creator Norman Lear". TVLine.