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The Jeffersons

Roxie Roker

Helen Willis

Roxie Roker was a secretary at NBC in New York City long before she made history as half of TV's first interracial couple on The Jeffersons. Active in the drama club at Howard University, Miss Roker made her way to New York after finishing her studies. First a reporter for WNEW-TV, she later joined the Negro Ensemble Company. Her role in "The River Niger" landed her an Obie Award in 1974. A year later, she became the second Helen Willis (another actress had played the role on All in the Family).

Roker appeared in several guest spots, including A Different World and Hanging with Mr. Cooper. She had roles in a few TV movies and the 1987 feature Amazon Women on the Moon. She also appeared on 227 and made an appearance in the landmark TV film Roots. Her community work as a board member of the Inter Agency Council on Child Abuse and Neglect yielded her two citations from the Los Angeles City Council. Fun fact: She is also the mother of rock star Lenny Kravitz. Roker died of breast cancer on Dec. 2, 1995.

Character Bio

Helen Willis is the picture of regality. An upwardly mobile black woman, she and her husband Tom live upstairs from the Jeffersons. They have two children, Allan and Jenny. Helen is sharp, and is especially pointed when it comes to defending herself against her daughter's future father-in-law, George Jefferson. She and Louise are close friends - and sometime rivals - who often get themselves into adventurous dilemmas. Like Louise, philanthropy is important to Helen, and the Help Center is one of her passions.