Did You Know Actress Marla Gibbs Was Born On This Day?

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This Day In History: June 14th

Whether you know her from classic shows such as The Jeffersons (1975) and 227 (1985) or more recent appearances in shows such as Black-ish and The Carmichael Show, Marla Gibbs has been entertaining audiences for more than four decades. Gibbs has more than 100 acting credits under her belt and continues to introduce herself to new generations of fans.

She was born Margaret Bradley in Chicago on June 14, 1931, and was raised on the city’s Southside. After finishing high school, she relocated to Detroit and attended business school. She worked in various positions before securing a job with United Airlines and being transferred to Los Angeles. Her initial plans did not involve acting, but she gave it a try and was soon featured in local productions. 

However, Gibbs received her big break when she landed a role as Florence the maid on the hit sitcom, The Jeffersons. Her role was not intended to be reoccurring, but she brought the role to life and became a permanent fixture on the show. Her performance was so impactful that it even earned her a spinoff show. The premise of Checking In (1981) revolved around Gibbs working as a housekeeper at a high-end hotel. The spinoff was unsuccessful, and Gibbs made her return back to the Jeffersons. However, the Jeffersons ended in 1985, and Gibbs received another opportunity to be the leading actress. 

She portrayed Mary Jenkins on the sitcom alongside Curtis Baldwin, Hal Williams, a young Regina King, Kia Goodwin, Jackée Harry, Helen Martin and Alaina Reed. Her character was a housewife with a penchant for gossip and the family lived in a Washington, D.C. apartment occupied by eccentric residents. Gibbs had great influence over the show because she owned the rights to the play that the show was based on and worked as a producer. She even co-wrote and sang the theme song.

The show came to an end five years after its creation, but Gibbs still had her other business ventures to rely on in addition to acting. She owned a jazz club called Marla’s Memory Lane Jazz and Supper Club which existed from the height of her fame as an actress up until 1999. Gibbs stayed relevant by making appearances in popular shows such as A Different World (1987), The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990) and Martin (1992). Most recently, Gibbs can be seen by a new generation of people with her guest role on the Disney+ series, Big Shot (2021), with fellow actors John Stamos and Yvette Nicole Brown.

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