Esther Rolle was an American actress known for her performances on CBS Television’s sitcoms.
Esther Elizabeth Rolle was born on November 8, 1920 in Pompano Beach, Florida, to Jonathan and Elizabeth Rolle. Elizabeth gave birth to eighteen children, three of whom went on to become actresses. Rolle first attended the Booker T. Washington High School in Miami, Florida, and then, when her family moved to Pompano Beach; Rolle Graduated from Blanche Ely High School.
Rolle initially studied at the Spelman College in Atlanta, however, she soon moved to the Hunter College in New York City, where she worked various jobs at the New York City Garment district to support her college education. Rolle was also a member of the highly prestigious Zeta Phi Beta sorority.
Rolle’s career in acting was aided in part by her performances for the Asadata Dafora’s dance troupe, which was named Shogolo Oloba. In 1960, Rolle became the director of that troupe, which was later renamed as ‘The Federal Theatre African Dance Troupe’. In New York, Rolle first performed in 1962 for a play called “The Blacks”. Rolle then consistently performed for the Negro Ensemble Company under the highly prolific producer, Robert Hooks. Rolle then appeared for “The Crucible” and “Blues for Mr. Charlie”, which were both relatively successful. By far, Rolle’s most famous stage plays were her portrayals of Miss Maybell and Lady Macbeth for the 1973 Melvin Van Peebles Play and the 1977 Orson Welles Macbeth interpretation respectively.
Rolle’s first screen appearance was for an un-credited role for Robert Mulligan’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” in 1962. Rolle then appeared in “The Learning Tree” alongside her sister, Estelle Evans, in 1969.
Rolle shot to prominence once she started acting for the incredibly famous sitcom, ‘Maude’, in 1972. Rolle played ‘Florida Evans’; an open minded, ‘no-nonsense’ housekeeper to the lead character of the show. The role of ‘Florida Evans’ was so popular that Rolle was granted a spin-off series in 1974 titled “Good Times” in which she