Marla Gibbs (born Margaret Theresa Bradley; June 14, 1931) is an American actress, comedian, singer, writer and television producer, whose career spans five decades. Gibbs is known for her role as George Jefferson's maid, Florence Johnston, in the CBS sitcom, The Jeffersons (1975–85), for which she received five nominations for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.
Margaret Theresa Bradley
June 14, 1931
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Alma mater||Wendell Phillips High School|
|Known for||Florence Johnston – The Jeffersons|
Mary Jenkins – 227
(m. 1955; div. 1973)
|Relatives||Susie Garrett (sister)|
She also starred in the show's spin-off Checking In (1981) and the NBC sitcom, 227 (1985–90); Gibbs co-produced the latter series, played the lead role of Mary Jenkins, and sang the theme song. Gibbs has won seven NAACP Image Awards. 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 the TV show Station 19 (2018).
The middle of three sisters, 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. She attended Wendell Phillips Academy High School in the Bronzeville neighborhood on Chicago's South Side. She graduated in 1949. 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.
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 a 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. 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." 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' Crossroads Theater in L.A. He served as artistic director. The series aired until 1990, producing 116 episodes. Two decades later, Gibbs teamed again with former 227 co-star 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 Della Reese), Judging Amy, ER, and Southland. 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, and in 2014 she starred in the independent film, Grantham & Rose.
In 2015, Gibbs made two appearances in the Shonda Rhimes' drama series, Scandal. 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. Gibbs also has 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. In film, she co-starred in Lemon and Please Stand By.
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.
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 shy of her 88th birthday.
Gibbs was married to her high school sweetheart Jordan Gibbs from 1955 to 1973; the couple had three children: 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 on the TV show Sanford and Son and 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 Maya Angelou, who died on May 28, and Ruby Dee, who died on June 11. 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, California. Gibbs co-starred opposite Cole in the TV movie Lily in Winter.
|1973||Sweet Jesus, Preacherman||Beverly Solomon|
|1974||Black Belt Jones||Bartender||Uncredited|
|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||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|
|2017||The Last Revolutionary||Millie|
|2017||You Can't Fight Christmas||Beverly Lawrence|
|2018||Please Stand By||Rose|
|2019||El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie||Jean|
|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"|
|1975||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|
|1981||The Love Boat||Janet Dalton||Episode: "The Incredible Hunk/Isaac, the Marriage Counselor/Jewels & Jim"|
|1984||Pryor's Place||Miss Stern||3 episodes|
|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"|
|1993||In the Heat of the Night||Lilly Baker||Episode: "A Baby Called Rocket"|
|1993||Empty Nest||Josephine Douglas||Episode: "Mother Dearest"|
|1994||Lily in Winter||Maize Covington||Television film|
|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|
|1997–1999||Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child||Old Mother Hubbard / Grandmother (voice)||2 episodes|
|1998–2002||The Hughleys||Hattie Mae Hughley||16 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"|
|2002||The Rerun Show||Dr. Beamish||Episode: "The Facts of Life: Shoplifting/The Jeffersons: A Bedtime Story"|
|2002||Arliss||Mrs. Jones||Episode: "Profiles in Agenting"|
|2004||Listen Up||Jackie Widmer||Episode: "Thanksgiving"|
|2004–2005||Passions||Aunt Irma||Recurring role|
Nominated — NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series
|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"|
|2012–2013||The First Family||Grandma Eddy||11 episodes|
|2013||Mr. Box Office||Florence Johnston||Episode: "The Golden Apple"|
|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"|
|2016–2017||The Carmichael Show||Francis||2 episodes|
|2017||Jalen Vs. Everybody||Grammie||Pilot|
|2017||This Is Us||Lady in Diner||Episode: "I Call Marriage"|
|2017||Teachers||Mrs. Potts||Episode: "Snap Judgement"|
|2017||Trial & Error||Mrs. Kratt||2 episodes|
|2018||Beyond||Cutlass Owner||Episode: "Six Feet Deep"|
|2018||The Thundermans||Sweet Gam Gam||Episode: "Cookie Mistake"|
|2018||Station 19||Edith||Recurring role|
|2018||Rel||Miss Jenkins||Episode: "Laundry Room"|
|2019||The Neighborhood||Miss Simpson||Episode: "Welcome To The Yard Sale"|
|2019||Live in Front of a Studio Audience||Florence Johnston||Episode: “Norman Lear's All in the Family and The Jeffersons”|
|2019||A Black Lady Sketch Show||Mary Jenkins||Episode: "3rd & Bonaparte Is Always in the Shade"|
|2019||One Fine Christmas||Alice||Television film|
- McCann, Bob (2009-10-30). Encyclopedia of African American Actresses in Film and Television. ISBN 9780786458042. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
- "Marla Gibbs". Yahoo Movies. Retrieved 28 November 2014.
- "Marla Gibbs Biography". Retrieved November 28, 2014.
- Maudlyne Ihejirika. "HistoryMakers-bringing-actress-Marla-Gibbs-to-Phillips-High". Retrieved November 28, 2014.
- "Interview With Marla Gibbs". BroadwayWeekly.com. February 14, 2015. Retrieved November 10, 2015.
- "Marla Gibbs to Guest-Star on Southland". TV Guide. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
- "Latest Church & Entertainment News". The Church Lady Blogs. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
- "Marla Gibbs set for 'Grantham and Rose'". Variety. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
- Tambay A. Obenson (November 20, 2013). "Watch Marla Gibbs, Tessa Thompson, Jake T. Austin In Trai - Shadow and Act". Shadow and Act. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
- Webb, Matt (2015-02-05). "'Scandal' Season 4 Recap — Fitz Declares War to Save Olivia". TVLine.com. Retrieved 2017-06-17.
- Hipes, Patrick (6 March 2018). "'Station 19': Marla Gibbs Set For Multi-Episode Arc On ABC's 'Grey's Spinoff". Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- Schwindt, Oriana (6 February 2017). "Jalen Rose ABC Comedy Pilot Casts Anna Maria Horsford, Marla Gibbs". Retrieved 12 March 2018.
- Roots, Kimberly (23 May 2019). "The Jeffersons Vet Marla Gibbs Reprises Role of Florence in Surprise Appearance". TVLine. Retrieved 22 May 2019.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 1, 2015. Retrieved 2014-12-02.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "La Me Ln Chaka Khan Natalie Cole Funeral". Los Angeles Times. January 11, 2016. Retrieved February 18, 2016.
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