Roxie Roker, born Roxie Albertha Roker on August 28, 1929, was an American actress famous for playing Helen Willis on the sitcom “The Jeffersons.” She is also famously known as the mother of rock star Lenny Kravitz. Roker died in December 1995 from breast cancer. Today is her birthday, and we are going to celebrate Roker by learning more about her successful career.
Roxie Albertha Roker
August 28, 1929
December 2, 1995 (age 66)
Roxie Roker was an American actress and presenter born in Miami, Florida to her mother Bessie Roker, a domestic worker, and her father Albert Roker, a porter and native of Andros, the Bahamas. Roker grew up in Brooklyn, New York. After leaving high school, she attended and graduated from Howard University. In 1962, Roker married television producer Sy Kravitz, and they had a son, Lenny Kravitz who was born in 1964. They later divorced in 1985.
Roker began her career in the theater, where she formed part of the Negro Ensemble Company. In 1974 she won an Obie Award, and was nominated for a Tony Award for her role in the play “The River Niger.” Also in the 1970s, Roker was a reporter on WNEW-TV in New York and she also hosted a show. In 1975, Roker was cast as Helen Willis on the television show “The Jeffersons,” which is her most notable role to date. She also guest-starred in numerous television productions, such as “Stone in the River,” “Murder, She Wrote,” and “Fantasy Island.”
Although Roker only had a sixteen-year career in Hollywood, she pushed boundaries and really had a fruitful career during her time. In December 1995, Roker passed away from breast cancer at the age of 66 in Los Angeles, California. Her legacy will continue to live on through her son, singer-songwriter Lenny Kravitz, as well as her iconic role in “The Jeffersons.” It’s a shame when our idols pass but at least we get to immortalize them right here.
Roker made her theater debut in the playright “The River Niger.”
She wins an Obie Award for her role in “The River Niger.”
Roker is cast as Helen Willis in the television show “The Jeffersons.”
She passes away in Los Angeles, California, from breast cancer.
Why We Love Roxie Roker
She was an advocate for children
Roker was a big advocate for children. She was a member of the Inter-Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect.
She didn't give up when faced with challenges
Before she got the role of Helen Willis on “The Jeffersons,” Roker had to prove she was right for the part by showing that she could be cast alongside a white man. She did so by showing a picture of her and her husband, who was white.
She is an icon
Roker has played many roles. However, her character in “The Jeffersons” and the boundaries it pushed can definitely elevate her to ‘icon’ status.
5 Surprising Facts
She made history
Roker’s role on “The Jeffersons” was the first interracial relationship shown on prime time television.
She has famous off-spring
She has a famous son, Lenny Kravitz, who is a rock musician, and a famous granddaughter, Zoe Kravitz, who is an actress.
Her relation to Al Roker
She was related to television personality Al Roker — they were second cousins, once removed.
She was a sorority girl
Roker was part of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
She was in “Roots”
Roker had a part in the famous television series “Roots.”
Roxie Roker FAQs
How many children did Roxie Roker have?
She only had one child, Lenny Kravitz.
What did Roxie Roker’s husband do?
He was an American television producer and former U.S. military officer.
Why did Roxie Roker and Sy Kravitz divorce?
They got divorced due to allegations of infidelity.
Roxie Roker’s birthday dates