Esther Rolle

Esther Rolle (November 8, 1920 – November 17, 1998) was an American actress. She was perhaps best known for her portrayal of Florida Evans on the CBS television sitcom Maude and its spin-off series Good Times. Esther Rolle was born in Pompano Beach, Florida, to Bahamian immigrants Jonathan Rolle (a farmer) and Elizabeth Rolle. Esther was the tenth of 18 children. Rolle attended Booker T. Washington High School in Miami, Florida and graduated from Blanche Ely High School. She initially studied at Spelman College in Atlanta, but she moved to New York City. She attended Hunter College, The New School for Social Research, and Yale University. She was also a member of Zeta Phi Beta sorority. For many years, Rolle worked in a traditional "day job" in New York City's garment district. Rolle was a member of Asadata Dafora's dance troupe, Shogolo Oloba (later renamed the Federal Theater African Dance Troupe). She became the troupe’s director in 1960. Rolle's earliest roles were on the stage; her New York stage debut was in the 1962 play The Blacks. She was often cast in plays produced by Robert Hooks and the Negro Ensemble Company.


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