After making a name for herself playing Florence on The Jeffersons, Marla Gibbs moved immediately on to another classic sitcom, 227, about the residents of a Washington, D.C. apartment building. There, she was reunited with Hal Williams, best known for playing Smitty on Sanford and Son, but who also guest-starred in a Season 11 episode of The Jeffersons. On 227, the actors played married couple Mary and Lester Jenkins, alongside future Oscar winner Regina King as their daughter Brenda and Jackée Harry as their neighbor, Sandra. Both Gibbs and Williams stayed with the show until the end of its run in 1990 and are still active in the business today, at 91 and 83, respectively. Read on to learn more about their lives after the comedy went off the air.
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Gibbs' acting career hasn't slowed down.
Gibbs, who held onto her customer service job at United Airlines for the first two years of The Jeffersons, eventually realized that she could be a full-time actor and has rarely been off our screens since 1975. After 227—which she also co-produced—the actor took on roles in shows including A Different World, In the Heat of the Night, Martin, Touched by an Angel, The King of Queens, Passions, Scandal, American Horror Story: Hotel, This Is Us, Black-ish, and One Day at a Time. Since 2021, she's been playing recurring character Olivia Price on the soap opera Days of Our Lives.
On film, Gibbs has starred in The Visit, Madea's Witness Protection, Please Stand By, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie, Alone Together, and the upcoming Spirit Halloween: The Movie. She was 44 when she was cast in The Jeffersons, which inspired the motto that Gibbs chose as the title for her soon-to-be-released memoir.
"It's called It's Never Too Late. That's my story," she told The Hollywood Reporter earlier this year. "And I'm sure it's a lot of other people's story. I'm sure it should be encouraging to a lot of people who think it's too late. I really got it from a lady that came up to me and said, 'Ms. Gibbs, I always wanted to act. You think it's too late?' I said, 'Are you still breathing? If you're still breathing, it's not too late.'"
Williams is still in the business as well.
Williams hasn't been quite as busy as his one-time TV wife, but he's also appeared on the big and small screens many times over the decades since 227. His TV credits during and after the sitcom include Hill Street Blues, Magnum, P.I., The Sinbad Show, and A Black Lady Sketch Show. He's also starred in moves including The Rookie, Guess Who, and Flight.
He also has a podcast.
Although Williams continues to act these days, he's more focused on his podcast. He's the co-host of Hal's Hitlist, alongside producer Sharlette Hambrick. The show drops weekly and features the pair discussing pop culture and how certain events in the entertainment industry impact history. They've done episodes on all sorts of topics, including the beginnings of Motown, Eddie Murphy's legacy, and the Tulsa Massacre.
Gibbs owned a jazz club.
Gibbs also has a passion for music. From 1981 to 1999, she owned and ran a Los Angeles jazz and supper club called Marla's Memory Lane. She famously sang the 227 theme song, and she's recorded a few albums of jazz music over the years.
The star also supported the stage community by co-founding the Crossroads Theater and Acting School with her daughter, Angela Gibbs. Her Walk of Fame bio states that the school "helped to launch the careers of several local actors" in L.A.
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They both have big families.
Gibbs was only married once, to her high school sweetheart Jordan Gibbs, from 1955 to 1973. The couple welcomed three kids together before going their separate ways: Angela, Joseph, and Dorian.
Williams has been married twice, to Gay Anderson from 1975 to 1976, then to Renee Himes from 1978 to 1984. Like Gibbs, he has three children.
Williams was there when Gibbs got her star.
Given her longevity in Hollywood, it was only a matter of time before Gibbs was properly honored with a star on the Walk of Fame. The ceremony took place in 2021 and was attended by The Jeffersons producer Norman Lear, who gave a speech in her honor, as well as King, Tisha Campbell, Anthony Anderson, and other stars who she's worked with and mentored over the years. During her acceptance, Gibbs worried fans by appearing faint. Later, her agent told USA Today, "Marla was overwhelmed with all the love and support she received and got overheated. She just needed a few minutes to cool down."
Williams, who often shares memories of the time he and Gibbs spent as co-stars on his Instagram, was also there to congratulate her on her star. He posted a photo of the two of them at the ceremony and wrote in the caption, "To know the gem that is @marlagibbs4real is to love her. so deserving of her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and long overdue. Yesterday she was acknowledged for the royalty I've always known her to be. It's my honor to show up for you and celebrate all that you've given on and off-screen. Your impact is incomparable but speaks volumes. Thanks to @jimmykimmel for a wonderful luncheon, what a treat yesterday was."