“How come we overcame and nobody told me!?” A Tribute to the Queen of Comedy Marla Gibbs.

When we talk about screen legends this Queen of comedy seems to be more overlooked than not and that’s a crime in my personal opinion because Marla Gibbs is truly one of the greatest comic actresses of all time. Nobody delivers a line like her, nobody has her specific screen presence like her, and nobody has comic timing like her. Marla is a true gem and has been apart of two classic and iconic series with The Jeffersons from 1975–1985 and 227 from 1985–1990. She was unfortunately overlooked by the Emmy voters for both series which in my humble opinion makes those voters either crazy or stupid, heck maybe even both. But ultimately it doesn’t matter because Marla Gibbs is a true star for all of us that know and love her and this is my little tribute to the woman who gave us one of tv’s greatest characters Florence Johnston.

Margaret Theresa Bradley was born on June 14th, 1931 and spanned a career of fifty years with various films and television shows like of course The Jeffersons and 227 but also the failed spin off Checking In, Sweet Jesus, Preacher Man, Black Belt Jones, The Meteor Man with Robert Townsend and Robert Gulliame, The Brothers, Barney Miller, The Hughleys, The Last OG and Blackish, and those are just a few of her film and television credits. It’s also notable that she starred in the stage version of 227 before the series began.

Gibbs was married to her high school sweetheart Jordan Gibbs from 1955 to 1973; the couple had three children: Angela Gibbs, Dorian Gibbs and Joseph Gibbs. Her older sister is the late actress Susie Garrett (who played Cherie’s grandmother Betty Johnson on the NBC series ). Her daughter Angela Gibbs is also an actress who appeared on the TV show and films such as , and . On July 31, 2014, Gibbs attended the Leimert Park Village Book Fair in Los Angeles, California to pay tribute to Maya Angelou, who died on May 28, and Ruby Dee, who died on June 11. On January 11, 2016, Gibbs and former co-star, Jackée Harry, attended the funeral of Grammy Award-winning singer Natalie Cole at the West Angeles Church of God in Christ in Los Angeles, California. Gibbs co-starred opposite Cole in the television film

On August 17th, 2019 Marla and fellow actress Dawn Lewis received honorary Doctor of Humane Letter degrees from Next Dimension University.

But as amazing as Marla was and is in every thing she does, there’s no character she’s more identified with and loved for more than Florence Johnston the Jeffersons’ maid.

Speaking on the origin of Florence:

“Yes, Florence was like my aunt and grandmother so I lived it. She came easy to me so I’m like Florence in giving smart answers, but I was also shy so I wouldn’t have dared to say some of the things Florence said. I prefer to do whatever I can do at the moment.”

Here are just some of Marla’s best and funniest moments as Florence that prove this character’s enduring popularity:

In 2006 Marla put out a Jazz album titled appropriately “It’s Never Too Late” and just like the title, It’s never too late or too early to celebrate this iconic actress. May she continue to take the world by storm and entertain us forever. Much love, Marla.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Kendall Rivers

Kendall is a screenwriter who’s a huge fan of classic tv and movies. He enjoys creating good stories and characters. https://www.facebook.com/kendall.rivers.3