Rolle played no-nonsense Florida Evans on Good Times from 1974-77 and 1978-79.
“Esther Rolle was a great lady,” producer Norman Lear said in a statement. “A wonderful actress and an indelible presence. Wherever she was, you knew she was there.”
Good Times, a spinoff of the maid character Rolle originated on Lear’s Maude, was the first prime-time series created by black writers. It quickly deevolved into the Jimmie Walker show (he was jive-talkin’, “Dy-no-MITE!”-spoutin’ J.J.). First, John Amos (as J.J.’s dad), then, Rolle departed the show during its run. Rolle returned for its final season.
Rolle won her Emmy (in an Outstanding Supporting Actress category) for the 1978 Kristy McNichol TV movie Summer of My German Soldier.
Other key credits included: the blaxploitation demi-classic Cleopatra Jones (1973) and the Oscar-winning Driving Miss Daisy (1989).
She will be seen later this year in poet Maya Angelou’s directing debut, Down in the Delta.
In 1990, she was honored with the NAACP Chairman’s Civil Rights Leadership Award.
One of 18 siblings, Rolle was born in Pompano Beach, Florida. Her birth year is variously noted as 1920, 1923 and 1924.- ENEWS