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Esther Let the Good Times Rolle

by Legacy Staff

On the day she would have turned 82, we remember the gifted actress who played one of TV’s greatest moms.

In the history of television sitcoms, there have been many memorable mother figures. Some are nurturing and gentle (think June Cleaver on “Leave It to Beaver”), while others follow more of a “tough love” approach (the saucy Sophia on “Golden Girls” for example). But the best, perhaps, are the moms who manage to do a little of both.

As Florida Evans, matriarch of the 1970s classic sitcom “Good Times,” Esther Rolle was just such a mom. She worked hard to keep her Chicago family afloat, could be serious and stern at times – but she got in some good jokes, too.

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Rolle played Evans for six seasons, including five on Good Times and one on Maude, where she originated the character. Florida Evans was memorable, but Rolle’s talents extended beyond sitcoms, and even beyond acting. Rolle was also an accomplished singer and dancer – she directed the dance troupe Shogolo Oloba – and showed off her skills in her onstage appearances, like her starring role in the 1973 play “Don’t Play Us Cheap.”

And, though she’s best remembered for her role in a comedy, Rolle was an award-winning dramatic actor. She took home an Emmy for TV movie “Summer of My German Soldier,” and she won an NAACP Image Award for her role in “Rosewood.”

But for those of us who grew up watching TV in the ’70s and ’80s, Rolle will always be one of our favorite moms.

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