‘Good Times’ Esther Rolle Cares About How Children On Screen Look Even Though Not In Reality

Esther Rolle is a stage actress who joined the cast of the series “Maude” and “Good Times” in the 70s provided that her character was not stereotyped. She left a legacy in Hollywood for her outspokenness and resistance to black stereotypes.

Esther Rolle made television history when she starred in the first series depicting a black father-and-son family, alongside actor John Amos, who gave life to James, the husband of Florida Evans.

Although Rolle’s character is a handmaid, she fights hard to eliminate the stereotypes surrounding black characters on television, making her an outspoken, well-meaning person. strong will. Here’s a glimpse into her life and distinguished career in Hollywood.

Esther Rolle, Jimmie Walker and Ralph Carter in a scene from the series ‘Good Times,’ September 1979. | Source: Getty Images


Born into a shared family in Pompano Beach, Florida, Rolle was the tenth of 18 children. She once said: “We worked in the fields when we were young, but my father made us promise never to be local because he said, ‘I can’t protect you when I’m in someone else’s house’.

After graduating, she moved to New York with her older sister, Rosanna Carter, to become an actress. She became one of the first members of the Negro Ensemble Company and the dance troupe of Asadata Dafora. In 1958, she appeared with her sister in the revival of “Zunguru” by Asadata Dafora.

She also joined the stage manufacture such as “Summer of the 17 Dolls”, “Man Better Man”, “Day of Absence”, “The Blacks”, “Blues for Mister Charlie”, “A Raisin in the Sun”, “The Amen Corner” and “Don” ‘t Play as Cheap.”

John Amos and Esther Rolle, 1974. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons Images

According to Sharonda Richardson, the city’s outreach and development consultant for cultural issues, everyone knew Rolle was going to be big in the entertainment industry. She speak:

“It was very clear from talking to her siblings that she was someone who spontaneously took the stage and art with her horns and created the life and legacy we all know and love. that.”

It was in a play that producer Norman Lear discovered Rolle. When trying to get her to star in 1972’s “Maude”, Rolle accepted on one condition: her character had to have some real development and not just become “another Hollywood handmaiden” .”

“Maude” became a hit, and Florida Evans was so popular with audiences that soon after, the producers started talking about a spin-off. By 1974, Rolle had become the star of “Good Times,” a film about the lives of a black family of five.

It depicts the life of Evanses – a strong and somewhat conservative Florida mother, an honest and hardworking father, and their children. Both Rolle and Amos had high expectations for the show, as they wanted to portray the depth of a black family issue using humor, but without aiming for ridicule.

However, their expectations of the show were soon dashed when Jimmie Walker’s character, JJEvans Jr., began to overwhelm the rest with his stereotypical cocky behavior.

Louis Gossett, Jr. as Florida’s brother, Wilbert and Esther Rolle. | Photo: Wikimedia Common Images

While Amos was fired from the show after the third season for speaking out and calling the writers and producers about it, Rolle dropped out of the show at the end of the fourth season. She speak:

“He’s 18, and he doesn’t work. He can’t read or write. He doesn’t think. The show doesn’t start like that. […] They made him dumber and expanded the role. “

Follow to the star, “I resent the image of telling black kids you can do it by standing in the corner and saying ‘Dyn-omite!'”.

Jimmie Walker and Esther Rolle, 1974. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons Images

When ratings dropped following Rolle’s departure, the producers decided to comply with her request and she returned to the show for a sixth season, while JJ was reformed and became a figure of responsibility. more responsibility.

But despite kt Rolle’s return, the show failed to recover from its low ratings and was canceled after its sixth season. Rolle went on to appear in a number of films, including “My German Soldier’s Summer,” for which she won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie.

She also appeared on “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” “Rosewood,” and television series such as “The Incredible Hulk,” “Flamingo Road,” and “Murder, She Wrote.” In 1990, Rolle received the NAACP’s Civil Rights Leadership Award for her hard work in enhancing the image of black people.

The Evans family in “Good Times.” | Photo: Wikimedia Common Images

In a 1990 interview, she revealed why she refused to “sell out” the black stigma in Hollywood. She, as told Washington Informer, speak:

“I’m excited to take on the role of housewife because many of your Black leaders, your educators, your professionals, come from domestic parents who have sacrificed to see that their children don’t have to go through what they did.”

Aside from her Hollywood legacies, Rolle is also a kind woman behind the scenes. She often invites the neighborhood kids to her place to chat. When asked why, she speak, “You have to take the time to do something meaningful.”

Rolle was married to Oscar Robinson from 1955 to 1975 and never had children. Rolle died on November 17, 1998, in Los Angeles, at the age of 78. She was facing diabetes and was on dialysis at the time.

Her publicist, Larry Calhourn, said that the cause of death had not yet been determined and that one of the last things she did was donate to a local black theater.

Around her 100th birthday, the people of Pompano Beach celebrated her life and career through a number of organized events, including three virtual performances celebrating her life and her legacy. The festival lasts a month with a number of artists featured in the events.

https://news.amomama.com/183093-esther-rolle-is-known-her-roles-maude-go.html ‘Good Times’ Esther Rolle Cares About How Children On Screen Look Even Though Not In Reality

Dais Johnston

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