Florida From 'Good Times' Attended an HBCU and Was Worth $1.7M When She Died

Esther Rolle

Esther Rolle, the actress who played Florida on the hit TV sitcom Good Times, attended both Spelman College and Yale University but worked a traditional day job for many years in New York City's garment district. It wasn't until she turned almost 40-years old that she began acting. Even more, she was 54-years old when she landed the most memorable role of her career on Good Times.

According to Celebrity Networths, when Rolle died on November 17, 1998, in Culver City, California, she left an estate valued in excess of $1.7 million including $200,000 in cash, a home worth $400,000, and more than $1,000,000 in treasuries. In addition, she owned 1,000 shares of Bethdames Corporation, several mutual funds, and a 2% interest in El Toro, Ltd.

Her infamous role as Florida initially began in 1972 on the sitcom Maude, where she played the housemaid alongside actress Bea Arthur who was the show's leading star. Later in 1974, producer Norman Lear decided to create Good Times as a spin-off series and cast Rolle as the mother of the family. The show was so successful that it ran for six seasons until 1979.

Rolle, however, quit the show after the third season because she felt that the character of J.J., played by comedian Jimmy Walker, was a bad role model for young Black males. The show, however, continued without her, and she rejoined the show in its final season in 1979. 

Later in her career, she appeared in several films including Driving Miss Daisy (1989) as Idella and in Rosewood (1997) as Aunt Sarah.