Roxie Albertha Roker (August 28, 1929 – December 2, 1995) was an American actress who portrayed Helen Willis on the CBS sitcom The Jeffersons (1975–1985), half of the first interracial couple to be shown on regular prime time television.[1] She is the mother of rock musician Lenny Kravitz and the grandmother of actress Zoë Kravitz.

Roxie Roker
Roxie Roker 1976.JPG
Roker in 1976.
Roxie Albertha Roker

(1929-08-28)August 28, 1929
Miami, Florida, U.S.
DiedDecember 2, 1995(1995-12-02) (aged 66)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma materHoward University
Years active1974–1995
Sy Kravitz
(m. 1962; div. 1985)
ChildrenLenny Kravitz

Early lifeEdit

Roker was born in Miami, Florida.[citation needed] Her mother, Bessie (Née Mitchell), was from Georgia and worked as a domestic. Her father, Albert Roker, was a native from Andros, The Bahamas and a porter.[2] She grew up in Brooklyn, New York.[1]


Roker portrayed Helen Willis on The Jeffersons. She began her professional career with the Negro Ensemble Company and became a successful stage actress. She won an Obie Award in 1974 and was nominated for a Tony Award for her portrayal of Mattie Williams in The River Niger.[1] She was a reporter on WNEW-TV in New York in the 1970s and hosted a public affairs show for the station known as Inside Bed-Stuy, dealing with events in the Brooklyn neighborhood.[1] She appeared in guest starring roles on many United States television shows from the 1970s through the 1990s, including "Stone in the River" starring Hal Miller for NBC, Punky Brewster, Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, A Different World, Murder, She Wrote, The Love Boat, 227, Beat the Clock, Fantasy Island, and ABC Afterschool Specials. She had roles in the television miniseries Roots and in the movie Claudine. Roker was also a children’s advocate who was cited by the city of Los Angeles for her community work.[1]

Personal lifeEdit

Roker graduated from Howard University, where she was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. She was married to television producer Sy Kravitz in 1962. The couple had a son, singer-songwriter and actor Lenny Kravitz (born May 26, 1964), and divorced in 1985.[1] Weather anchor Al Roker and Roxie Roker are first cousins once removed.[3]


Roker died in Los Angeles, California, on December 2, 1995, of breast cancer at the age of 66.[4]

In Popular CultureEdit

Roker is mentioned in the 1993 Fu-Schnickens song "What's up Doc? (Can We Rock)" which featured basketball star Shaquille O'Neal.



  1. ^ a b c d e f "Roxie Roker, 66, Who Broke Barrier In Her Marriage on TV's 'Jeffersons'". The New York Times. Associated Press. December 6, 1995. Retrieved July 3, 2010.
  2. ^ Robbins, Fred, "Roxie Roker: Her Life is Not Just the Hollywood Life", The Modesto Bee, Wednesday, December 26, 1984
  3. ^ "Al, Lenny Kravitz discuss being distant cousins". Today. September 2, 2011. Retrieved October 21, 2014.
  4. ^ Santoski, Teresa (December 2, 2009). "Death anniversary of groundbreaking Bahamian American actress Roxie Roker". Nashua Telegraph. Retrieved July 3, 2010.

External linksEdit