Roxie Roker

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Roxie Roker
Roxie Roker 1976.JPG
Roker in 1976.
Roxie Albertha Roker

(1929-08-28)August 28, 1929
Miami, Florida, U.S.
DiedDecember 2, 1995(1995-12-02) (aged 66)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma materHoward University
Years active1974–1995
Sy Kravitz
(m. 1962; div. 1985)
ChildrenLenny Kravitz

Roxie Albertha Roker (August 28, 1929 – December 2, 1995) was an American actress who portrayed Helen Willis on the CBS sitcom The Jeffersons (1975–1985), half of the first interracial couple to be shown on regular prime time television.[1] She is the mother of rock artist Lenny Kravitz.

Early life[edit]

Roker was born in Miami, Florida. Her mother, Bessie (née Mitchell), was from Georgia and worked as a domestic, and her father, Albert Roker, was a native of The Bahamas and a porter.[2] She grew up in Brooklyn, New York.[1]


Roker portrayed Helen Willis on The Jeffersons. She began her professional career with the Negro Ensemble Company and became a successful stage actress. She won an Obie Award in 1974 and was nominated for a Tony Award for her portrayal of Mattie Williams in The River Niger.[1] She was a reporter on WNEW-TV in New York in the 1970s and hosted a public affairs show for the station known as Inside Bed-Stuy, dealing with events in the Brooklyn neighborhood.[1] She appeared in guest starring roles on many United States television shows from the 1970s through the 1990s, including "Stone in the River" starring Hal Miller for NBC, Punky Brewster, Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, A Different World, Murder, She Wrote, The Love Boat, 227, and Beat the Clock. She had roles in the television miniseries Roots and in the movie Claudine. Roker was also a children’s advocate who was cited by the city of Los Angeles for her community work.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Roker graduated from Howard University, where she was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. She was married to television producer Sy Kravitz in 1962. Before their divorce in 1985, the couple had a son, singer-songwriter and actor Lenny Kravitz (born May 26, 1964)[1] making her the paternal grandmother of actress Zoë Kravitz. She was also a cousin of NBC Today Show host Al Roker.[3]


Roker died in Los Angeles, California, on December 2, 1995, of breast cancer at the age of 66.[4]



  1. ^ a b c d e f "Roxie Roker, 66, Who Broke Barrier In Her Marriage on TV's 'Jeffersons'". The New York Times. Associated Press. December 6, 1995. Retrieved July 3, 2010.
  2. ^ Robbins, Fred, "Roxie Roker: Her Life is Not Just the Hollywood Life", The Modesto Bee, Wednesday, December 26, 1984
  3. ^ "Al, Lenny Kravitz discuss being distant cousins". Today. September 2, 2011. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
  4. ^ Santoski, Teresa (December 2, 2009). "Death anniversary of groundbreaking Bahamian American actress Roxie Roker". Nashua Telegraph. Retrieved July 3, 2010.

External links[edit]