Roxie Roker may best be remembered for playing outspoken Helen Willis for ten years on the popular television sitcom The Jeffersons.
Along with her TV husband Franklin Cover, they comprised the first interracial married couple on network television.
In addition to television, Roxie had also found success on stage and in the occasional feature film.
Born on August 28, 1929 in Miami and raised in Brooklyn, Roxie is the alumni of Howard University and with a drama degree Roxie flew to England to study at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-on-Avon. In the 1960s, Roker supported herself with a secretarial job at NBC’s New York office while trying to find acting jobs. Roxie launched her drama career off-Broadway in productions such as Jean Genet’s The Blacks.
During the 1960’s, Roxie hosted a local community television show, but that wasn’t close enough to acting, so she quit to practice her craft full time. With the Negro Ensemble Company she appeared in Ododo and Rosalie Pritchet. In 1974, she earned an Obie and a Tony nomination for The River Niger. In 1975, shortly after moving to Los Angeles, Norman Lear cast Roker in The Jeffersons.
Roxie occasionally guest-starred on other series and appeared in television movies. Her feature-film appearances were rare. In 1974, she made her debut in Claudine as Mrs. Winston. In the ’90s, Roker resumed her stage career, appearing in a theatrical version of The Jeffersons and then touring opposite Mary Martin and Carol Channing in Legends. Roxie’s son, Lenny Kravitz is a rock musician and record producer and Roxie’s cousin The Today Show weatherman and TV producer Al Roker.
Roxie Roker died on December 2, 1995 in Los Angeles of breast cancer.
Sources: IMBD, Wikipedia, Ask.com