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Marla Gibbs has graced the small and big screen in a career that spans more than four decades and counting. Best known for playing Florence Johnston on the long-running comedy series “The Jeffersons,” Gibbs celebrates a birthday today.

Born Margaret Theresa Bradley on this day in 1931, the Chicago native didn’t have the opportunity to study acting as a young woman but was a fan of the art. After living in Detroit and working for a major airline company, Gibbs, now a single mother, got the call to audition for the role of Florence in Norman Lear’s office. Thanks to her agent sending a letter to The Hollywood Reporter saying her clients were getting passed over for parts, Gibbs landed the part.

Gibbs moved to Los Angeles and studied acting at the Performing Arts Society of Los Angeles workshop and Watts Watts Workshop alongside her daughter. Her first role came in 1973 when she landed a part in the blaxploitation film Sweet Jesus, Preacherman. The next year she was cast in the film Black Belt Jones.

In 1975, she joined The Jeffersons. The show ran for 11 seasons. In 1985, she co-produced and starred in the sitcom 227 which ran for five seasons. Along the way, Gibbs has enjoyed a variety of roles on T.V. including on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Touched By An Angel and Martin among several others. Most recently, fans could see Gibbs on ABC’s hit drama Scandal and she’s set to star in one of Shonda Rhimes’ new series titled Station 19, a spin-off of Grey’s Anatomy.

For her role as Florence, Gibbs was nominated for an Emmy five times.

PHOTO: PR Photos

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Little Known Black History Fact: Marla Gibbs was originally published on blackamericaweb.com

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