Esther Rolle

Esther Rolle

  • Highest Rated: 95% Nothing But a Man (1963)
  • Lowest Rated: 48% My Fellow Americans (1996)
  • Birthday: Nov 8, 1920
  • Birthplace: Not Available
  • The ninth in a family of 18 children, Esther Rolle left her family's Florida home for New York once she came of age. She worked her way through Hunter College, Spellman College and the New School for Social Research. Even after her 1962 New York stage debut in The Blacks, Esther was compelled to hold down a day job in the city's garment district. She appeared in such Broadway productions as The Crucible and Blues for Mr. Charlie, and toured extensively with Robert Hooks' Negro Ensemble Company. Her breakthrough role was Florida the maid in the 1972 Norman Lear sitcom Maude. Though she balked at playing a domestic, Rolle was impressed by Florida's independence and pugnaciousness. In February of 1973, the Florida character was spun off into her own series, Good Times, the saga of a tightly-knit black family surviving in the Chicago projects. Rolle welcomed the series as an opportunity to depict a poor but proud African-American family with a strong father figure (played by John Amos) at the center. But when Amos, upset that co-star Jimmie "J.J." Walker was dominating the series, left Good Times in 1974, Rolle echoed the words of such groups as the National Black Media Coalition in chastising the renovated series, wherein an irresponsible, wisecracking teenaged cut-up was now "head" of the household. When her contract ran out in 1977, Esther joined John Amos in bolting Good Times. After a year of pursuing other projects -- one of which, the made-for-TV film Summer of My German Soldier, won Rolle an Emmy -- she was back on Good Times, having been assured that she would be given full script approval and that the J.J. character had matured. But by this time, audiences had wearied of Good Times, and the series was cancelled in 1979. Since that time, Rolle has hardly wanted for work: her most recent credits include the strong role of Idella in the 1989 Oscar-winner Driving Miss Daisy, the starring part of the black owner of a Jewish deli in the 1990 sitcom Singer and Son, and a guest appearance as the dying Mammy in the 1994 Gone with the Wind sequel Scarlet. In addition, Esther Rolle has been nominated honorary chairperson of the President's Committee on the Employment of the Handicapped, and has been honored with several Image Awards from the NAACP.

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

Movies

Rating

Title

Credit

Box
Office

Year

86% Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You Actor $70.6K 2016
No Score Yet Train Ride Actor 2000
79% Down in the Delta Annie Sinclair 1998
86% Rosewood Sarah Carrier 1997
48% My Fellow Americans Rita 1996
61% How to Make an American Quilt Aunt Pauline 1995
No Score Yet Scarlett Actor 1994
No Score Yet To Dance with the White Dog Neelie 1993
56% House of Cards Adelle 1992
No Score Yet The Kid Who Loved Christmas Actor 1990
No Score Yet Age-Old Friends Mrs. Baker 1989
81% Driving Miss Daisy Idella 1989
88% The Mighty Quinn Ubu Pearl 1989
No Score Yet A Raisin in the Sun Lena 1989
No Score Yet P.K. and the Kid Mim 1987
No Score Yet Ethnic Notions Actor 1986
No Score Yet Romeo & Juliet Actor 1982
No Score Yet I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Momma 1979
No Score Yet Summer of My German Soldier Ruth 1978
91% Cleopatra Jones Mrs. Johnson 1973
No Score Yet Don't Play Us Cheap Miss Maybell 1973
No Score Yet Who Says I Can't Ride a Rainbow! (Barney) Maid 1971
95% Nothing But a Man Church Woman $9.7K 1963

TV

Rating

Title

Credit

Year

No Score Yet Good Times
1974-1979
Florida Evans
  • 2019
  • 1980
  • 1979
  • 1978
  • 1977
  • 1976
  • 1975
  • 1974
No Score Yet Maude
1972-1978
Florida Evans
  • 2017
  • 1974
  • 1973
  • 1972
No Score Yet Touched by an Angel
1994-2003
Guest Mary Johnson
  • 1997
No Score Yet American Playhouse
1982-1996
Lena
  • 1989
No Score Yet Murder, She Wrote
1984-1996
Margaret
  • 1985
No Score Yet The Incredible Hulk
1978-1982
Coleen
  • 1979
No Score Yet Singer & Sons
1990
Sarah Patterson

QUOTES FROM Esther Rolle CHARACTERS

Boolie Werthan
How are you, Idella?
Idella
Livin'.
Boolie Werthan
Where's the vacuum cleaner I brought over here?
Idella
In the closet.
Boolie Werthan
(turning to Hoke) She won't touch it.
Boolie Werthan
She won't touch it.
Idella
I would if it didn't give me a shock every time I come near it!
Boolie Werthan
It works for me!
Idella
Fine... you clean and I'll go down and run your office!
Idella
(to Hoke on his first day of work) I wouldn't be in your shoes if the Sweet Lord Jesus come down and asked me himself.
Idella
I wouldn't be in your shoes if the Sweet Lord Jesus come down and asked me himself.
Idella
I'm goin', Miss Daisy.
Miss Daisy Werthan
All right. See you tomorrow.
Hoke Colburn
I'm goin' too!, Miss Daisy.
Hoke Colburn
I'm goin' too, Miss Daisy.
Miss Daisy Werthan
Good!.
Miss Daisy Werthan
Good!