Esther Rolle’s profile picture

Esther Rolle

Actress, Soundtrack
Esther Rolle’s profile picture
Net worth 2018: $600,000
Industry: Actress
Residence:  Pompano Beach, Florida, USA
BirthDay: 8 November 1920
Died On: November 17, 1998(1998-11-17) (aged 78) Culver City, California, U.S.
BIOGRAPHY

Best known for the role of Florida Evans on the 1970s sitcoms "Maude" and "Good Times," African-American actress Esther Rolle proved to be as spirited and iron-willed off-camera as well. The gap-toothed actress with the gravelly voice was born in Pompano Beach, Florida, the 10th child of 18 born to Caribbean farming immigrants. Her first important work came with the Negro Ensemble Company and over the years would earn a solid careworn reputation in such theater plays as "The Blacks," "Blues for Mister Charlie," "The Amen Corner," "A Raisin in the Sun" and "A Member of the Wedding." Ironically, her father insisted she promise him that she would never becoming a servant or maid in real life. She didn't, and yet Esther would have her biggest successes playing just those types of roles. She caught the attention of TV producer Norman Lear while performing on stage who cast her in the "Maude" supporting role in 1972. Audiences loved her so much as the feisty domestic who stood her ground, and then some, against her volatile and liberal-minded employer Maude Findley (Bea Arthur), that Esther earned her own spinoff series with "Good Times." Compelled to fight racial stereotypes, she insisted before accepting the series that a strong father figure be central in the show (actor John Amos). And while she still played the role of a lower middle-class maid, the show's emphasis was to be on her home and family life, not her outside work. Still, Esther left the show for one season when she was unhappy about the negative role model perpetuated by Jimmie Walker's jive-talking J.J. character, but later returned after the producers assured her that more responsibility would be taken. In other assignments, she won an Emmy Award for the TV movie "Summer of My German Soldier" and gained further respect for her work in Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" (1979) and for her film work in Driving Miss Daisy (1990) and Rosewood (1997). Two of her sisters, EstElle Evans and Rosanna Carter, were also character actresses. Afflicted with diabetes, Esther's health failed in the 1990s and toward the end of her life she was on kidney dialysis. The actress, who was divorced and had no children, died nine days after her 78th birthday on November 17, 1998.

TIMELINE
2010

The gap-toothed actress with the gravelly voice was born in Pompano Beach, Florida, the 10th child of 18 born to Caribbean farming immigrants

2001

Her sister Rosanna Carter, passed away in 2001, at age 83, just 3 years after Rolle's death

2000

1 year after her death, the film Train Ride (2000) was dedicated to her

1998

Esther Rolle passed away on November 17, 1998

1990

Rolle always dyed her hair black until letting it go gray in the early 1990s

1986

Rolle's family was gathered in the Bahamas; for her family reunion, in 1986

1985

Her sister EstElle Evans died in 1985 and lived to be age 78

1979

In other assignments, she won an Emmy Award for the TV movie "Summer of My German Soldier" and gained further respect for her work in Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" (1979) and for her film work in Driving Miss Daisy (1990) and Rosewood (1997)

1978

In her final interview, she said on the day of her 78th birthday, that she was glad, very happy; for some reason, when she was younger

1974

[on her insisting to the producers of Good Times (1974) that the show have a husband and father figure] I told them I couldn't compound the lie that black fathers don't care about their children

1972

Created the character of Florida Evans on Maude (1972) and its spin-off show, Good Times (1974)

1970

Best known for the role of Florida Evans on the 1970s sitcoms "Maude" and "Good Times," African-American actress Esther Rolle proved to be as spirited and iron-willed off-camera as well

1942

Graduated from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia in 1942

1939

In 1939, when Rolle was age 18, she followed her two sisters to New York City

1938

Graduated from Blache Ely High School in Pompano Beach, Florida, in 1938

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