Photo credits: CBS
Esther Rolle is most remembered for her portrayal of Florida Evans in two 1970s sitcoms.
In “Maude,” Rolle’s character was introduced as Maude Findlay’s maid. In the second season, she was pulled off into “Good Times,” a sitcom about Florida’s family. Rolle was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy for her work on “Good Times” in 1975. Rolle was 19 years older than the actor who portrayed her husband James (called Henry on “Maude”) Evans, who was played by John Amos.
After Esther Rolle lobbied contentiously for a father figure and spouse to be introduced to the play, James Evans was inserted. Rolle had campaigned for the program’s father role, as well as more meaningful topics and screenplays, and was dissatisfied with the popularity of Jimmie Walker’s character, J.J. Evans, whom she considered had led the show down a foolish path.
Following the third season, John Amos was sacked from the program because he agreed with Rolle regarding Walker’s character. Later, after a fight with producer Norman Lear of Good Times, Rolle resigned when her contract expired. Rolle appeared in the final episode of the fourth season, which aired on March 30, 1977. Despite the fact that the program ran without her for the fifth season, she returned for the final season of the show.
She received an Emmy for her portrayal in the made-for-television film “Summer of My German Soldier” in 1979.