Marla Gibbs

Marla Gibbs Headshot

Actress

Birth Date: June 14, 1931

Age: 92 years old

Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois

Marla Gibbs has earned her place in TV history playing Florence Johnston, the less than efficient and always wisecracking maid of George and Louise Jefferson on "The Jeffersons" (CBS, 1975-1985), and as Mary Jenkins, gossipy homemaker and general building yenta on the NBC series "227," which she also co-produced. Acting, let alone stardom, came to Marla Gibbs relatively late. A divorcee with three children, she worked as a receptionist, addressograph operator, switchboard operator, and was a reservations clerk for United Airlines before she even attempted acting professionally. In fact, she left Detroit, where she was working for United Airlines, and transferred to L.A. for the climate and her daughter's schooling. It was when looking into after school activities for her daughter that Gibbs herself signed up for some acting lessons at a performing arts center. She was hooked. Her first role came with the obscure independent film "Sweet Jesus, Preacher Man" (1972), and can also be spotted in the blaxploitation "Black Belt Jones" (1974). In 1975, Gibbs was hired for a guest shot on "The Jeffersons" playing one of the candidates for household domestic nouveau riche George is interviewing over the objections of his wife. Per the script, Gibbs brought down the house when she noticed that African Americans were living in this swanky East Side New York building and asked, "How come we got over and nobody told me?" Norman Lear and the powers at his TAT Communications were so taken by Gibbs, that they hired her as a regular member of the cast where for 11 seasons she shirked her maid duties and insulted Sherman Hemsley, besides earning five Emmy nominations as best supporting actress in a comedy series. Gibbs disappeared for a short while in 1981 when she was given a four-episode tryout on her own series, "Checking In" (CBS), in which Florence becomes supervisor of maid services at a hotel. When the tryout didn't click, she returned to "The Jeffersons." When "The Jeffersons" was cancelled after 11 seasons, Gibbs was ready. She had acquired the rights to a play performed in her native Chicago about an overbearing woman in an apartment building. Gibbs performed the play, also called "227" at her own Crossroads Theatre in the Leimert Park section of Los Angeles -- which she had founded in 1981 -- then sold NBC on the concept for a series. The result was "227," which ran on NBC from 1985-1990. Her popularity also made Fox take a look at Gibbs as a possible talk show host and she was one of a revolving number of hosts on "The Late Show" in 1986. Gibbs began in longforms in 1976 with a role in "The Moneychangers" for NBC, and, in 1993, she was a bureaucratic clerk causing problems for Bonnie Bedelia in the miniseries "The Fire Next Time" (CBS). Gibbs also played Natalie Cole's mother in the USA Network original movie "Lily in Winter" (1994), and returned to feature films in 1993 with a cameo in "Meteor Man" for director Robert Townsend. In 1982 Gibbs bought a club on Martin Luther King Boulevard in Los Angeles and renamed it "Marla's." For a good part of a decade it was a meeting place and performance venue for the African American community, in which Gibbs has taken a active role. She has won seven NAACP Image Awards.

Credits

A Snowy Day in Oakland

Actor
Mrs. Keys
Movie
2023

Sherri

Guest
Talk
2022

Generation Gap

Guest
Game Show
2022

Soul of a Nation Presents: Screen Queens RisingStream

Self
Special
2022

Spirit Halloween: The Movie

Actor
Grandma G
Movie
2022

A Christmas Prayer

Actor
Mrs. Gladys
Movie
2022

She Ball

Actor
Mrs. Watts
Movie
2020

All About All in the Family and The Jeffersons

Guest
Show
2019

One Fine Christmas

Actor
Alice
Movie
2019

The NeighborhoodStream

Guest Star
Miss Simpson
Series
2018

RelStream

Guest Star
Miss Jenkins
Series
2018
44%

Station 19Stream

Guest Star
Edith
Series
2018

Love Jacked

Actor
Rose
Movie
2018

Young SheldonStream

Guest Star
Doris
Series
2017

Trial & ErrorStream

Guest Star
Mrs. Kratt
Series
2017

One Day at a TimeStream

Guest Star
Mrs. Jones
Series
2017
99%

Lemon

Actor
Lily
Movie
2017

You Can't Fight Christmas

Actor
Beverly Lawrence
Movie
2017

The Last Revolutionary

Actor
Millie
Movie
2017

This Is UsStream

Guest Star
George's Dining Companion
Series
2016
94%

Gay for Play Game Show Starring RuPaulStream

Guest Star
Game Show
2016

TeachersStream

Guest Star
Mrs. Potts
Series
2016

Second Sight

Actor
Movie
2016

Who Killed Soul Glow?

Actor
Movie
2016

American Horror Story: HotelStream

Guest Star
Cassie Royale
Series
2015

The Carmichael ShowStream

Guest Star
Francis
Series
2015
87%

The Man in 3B

Actor
Ms. Mamie
Movie
2015

Black-ishStream

Guest Star
Series
2014
92%

Grantham & Rose

Actor
Rose Price
Movie
2014

The ThundermansStream

Guest Star
Series
2013

The Real

Guest
Talk
2013

Forbidden Woman

Actor
Mrs. Simmons
Movie
2013

The First FamilyStream

Actor
Series
2012

ScandalStream

Guest Star
Rose
Series
2012
93%

Tyler Perry’s Madea's Witness ProtectionStream

Actor
Hattie
Movie
2012
19%

C'mon Man

Actor
Mrs. Crabtree
Movie
2012

The Talk

Guest
Talk
2010

Access Hollywood Live

Guest
Show
2010

Hot in ClevelandStream

Guest Star
Marcia
Series
2010

African American Short Films

Actor
Show
2010

Voices of Leimert

Actor
Show
2010

Sunnyview

Actor
Mrs. Harris
Movie
2010

Voices of Leimert

Actor
Movie
2010

SouthlandStream

Guest Star
Granny
Series
2009
90%

Devil's Land

Actor
Judge Martha M. Levine
Show
2009

Afro Ninja

Actor
Aunt Mary
Movie
2009

MLK: The Making of a Holiday

Host
Show
2008

Back to the Grind

Self
Show
2007

Tyler Perry's House of PayneStream

Guest Star
Florence Johnson
Series
2006

Grey's AnatomyStream

Guest Star
Joyce Ward
Series
2005
84%

Listen Up

Guest Star
Series
2004
9%

Cold CaseStream

Guest Star
Series
2003

NCISStream

Guest Star
Rosie Brown
Series
2003

Lift Every Voice

Guest Star
Show
2002

The BrothersStream

Actor
Mary West
Movie
2001
63%

The Visit

Actor
Lois Waters
Movie
2000

Stanley's Gig

Actor
Eleanor Whitney
Movie
2000

Judging Amy

Guest Star
Series
1999

Passions

Actor
Soap
1999

Lost & Found

Actor
Enid
Movie
1999

Foolish

Actor
Odetta
Movie
1999

Martial Law

Guest Star
Series
1998

The Hughleys

Guest Star
Series
1998

The King of QueensStream

Guest Star
Series
1998

Touched by an AngelStream

Guest Star
Series
1994

ERStream

Guest Star
Cherise Barnes
Series
1994

Burke's Law

Guest Star
Show
1994

Lily in Winter

Actor
Maize Covington
Movie
1994

The Meteor Man

Actor
Mrs. Reed
Movie
1993

MartinStream

Guest Star
Series
1992

Up Against the Wall

Actor
Louise Bradley
Movie
1991

The Fresh Prince of Bel-AirStream

Guest Star
Series
1990

Menu for Murder

Actor
Marty Hallard
Movie
1990

The Joan Rivers ShowStream

Guest
Talk
1989

Relatively Speaking

Self
Show
1988

A Different WorldStream

Guest Star
Series
1987

227Stream

Actor
Mary Jenkins
Series
1985

Super PasswordStream

Guest
Game Show
1984

The Young Landlords

Actor
Movie
1983

Checking In

Actor
Florence Johnston
Show
1981

Arthur Hailey's The Moneychangers

Actor
Mrs. Euphrates
Show
1976

The Moneychangers

Actor
Mrs. Euphrates
Movie
1976

Barney MillerStream

Guest Star
Mrs. McBee
Series
1975

The JeffersonsStream

Actor
Florence Johnson
Series
1975

The JeffersonsStream

Guest Star
Florence Johnson
Series
1975

The JeffersonsStream

Writer
Series
1975

Sweet Jesus, Preacher Man

Actor
Beverly Solomon
Movie
1973

Today

Guest
News
1952

News aboutMarla Gibbs