Marla Gibbs Reflects On Tough Love She Gave Regina King On ‘227’ Set: ‘We Can Have An Argument About It If You Want To’
Marla Gibbs is all about tough love, in her personal and professional life.
The beloved actress gained notoriety while portraying the Jeffersons’ maid Florence Johnston for 11 seasons, for which she received five Emmy nods. She naturally took that same energy to her on-screen friendship with future Oscar winner Regina King in her subsequent endeavor as the star of NBC’s 227.
Norman Lear, the creator of The Jeffersons, gave 227, which aired on NBC from 1985 to 1990 and depicted the daily life of a middle-class Black family, the go-ahead after learning about a stage play that Marla Gibbs and her daughter, actress Angela Gibbs, were staging at their Crossroads Arts Academy and Theatre in Los Angeles.
Regina King made her television debut in the series as Brenda, the teenage daughter of Gibbs’ fiction character Mary Jenkins.
While reflecting on Regina King’s involvement with the hit series, Marla Gibbs said,
“I fought for Regina [to be cast]. She had light brown hair and light eyes and she really looked like Hal.”
Actor Hal Williams played Lester Jenkins on the series, King’s TV dad.
“Regina went to regular school while she was on the show, and her friends would tell her the clothes her character wore made her look like a doofus. I had to tell her, ‘Now, look, do you want to be on TV? Or do you want to be with your friends, watching TV?’ You’re not dressing the way you want to dress; you’re dressing the way I make you dress. We can have an argument about it if you want to.’ She never forgot that.”
“Sometimes she’d come ask me if the clothes made her look too [young]. And I’d say, ‘I’ll tell you one thing: If you get too old, [the producers] are going to send your behind to college, and you won’t be on the show anymore! So be young as long as you can!”
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