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Roxie Roker was born on this date in 1929. She was a Black actress and children’s advocate.
Roxie Roker was born in Miami to Albert Roker, who had emigrated from the Bahamas, and Bessie Roker. She attended Howard University and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1952. While at Howard, she was an active member of the Howard Players and was featured in several productions. She was also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.
After graduation, Roker moved to New York City and began working in an office while appearing in several off-Broadway plays. She became a full-time actress after joining the Negro Ensemble Company (NEC). At NEC, Roker appeared in the plays Ododo and Rosalee Pritchard. In 1974, she won an Obie Award and was also nominated for a Tony for her performance as Mattie Williams in The River Niger.
She married a white-Russian Jewish TV producer, Syl Kravitz. The couple had one child, Lenny Kravitz, in 1964. In 1975, Roker was cast in the TV show, The Jeffersons. Her character, Helen Willis, played the wife in the first interracial couple on prime time TV. After the Jeffersons ended in 1985, she returned to the stage, touring with Mary Martin and Carol Channing in Legends.
Her community work, including her service as a board member of the Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect, earned her two citations from the Los Angeles City Council. Roxie Roker died on December 2, 1995, from breast cancer.
The Encyclopedia Britannica, Twenty-fourth Edition.
Copyright 1996 Encyclopedia Britannica Inc.