Esther Rolle

1920 - 1998

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, an

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