HELLO AMERICA!—If you’ve been in Hollywood as long as I have, it is so easy to assume you know everything about everybody! As for me, since I have known Marla Gibbs who has developed quite a reputation as one of the industry’s top actors based on her successful shows since the 1970s which include two of the funniest shows ever, “The Jeffersons” and “227” which also lasted several years on the tube.
Let’s face it, we all fell in love with “Florence” the housekeeper in The Jefferson family; we all could relate to her character with someone in our own family. This is why it was so easy to cast Marla as the “Grandmother” in our Pre-Broadway play “I Feel Sin Comin’ On,” the love, warmth and the outspokenness which forces one to accept the truth, even though a bit painful, but with a knowledge of genuine concern and love.
Recently, I was flabbergasted when hearing that Marla was a fine singer, as well. It was a concern because the character in the play requires the grandmother to sing. So, I was informed that wouldn’t be a problem with our Marla. A week later, I received a track of her voice and nearly blacked out, totally shocked. The lady can sing, she has a very distinctive, Broadway kind of voice an audience would relate to quite easily. I even played the track on my WLRM radio DB show out of Atlanta, and the response was overwhelming. This only made me realize how little we know about each other. I had been so taken with the “characters” Marla created on the tube; I genuinely believed this was the extent of her artistic offering.
Not only that, Marla Gibbs has a well-known sister and daughter, both seriously accomplished with credits to envy. Her sister, Susie Garrett made quite a name for herself on “Punky Brewster” playing a RN (registered nurse) and grandmother to Punky’s friend. The actress also made some rather outstanding appearances on such shows as: “227,” “The Twilight Zone,” “My Three Sons” and so many other hit TV shows
Marla’s daughter, Angela Gibbs has proven to be quite an accomplished in nearly every facet of the business. She is an award-winning director, producer, writer and acting coach. She even has a recurring role on the Adult Swim Comedy series, “Black Jesus,” which stars actor Charlie Murphy (Eddie Murphy’s brother) and comedian, Corey Holcomb. Angela has won two NAACP Image Awards for her theatrical productions which include the Broadway play, “Checkmates,” starring Denzel Washington, Ruby Dee, Paul Winfield and “The Meeting” starring Dick Anthony Williams and Taurean Blacque. She also taught at Spelman in the Drama Department.
This is the Marla Gibbs, the beautiful kind Hollywood actress who for years made our time in front of the television set something very special. Knowing that she has a family of other creative forces make us feel lucky when realizing who they are and they all continue to contribute something rather special within the entertainment industry without a lot of hoopla and family promo. They moved through the critical door of artistic and critical judgment, looking straight head, knowing exactly who and what they are. In this town, that says a helluva lot!