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Whatever Happened to Franklin Cover and Roxie Roker (Tom and Helen Willis) from The Jeffersons

This article is a part of my Melanin Arts series, which is dedicated to the achievements and contributions of artistic people of color.

Covey and Roker in their roles of Tom and Helen Willis

Covey and Roker in their roles of Tom and Helen Willis

Franklin Cover was the male half of the first interracial couple to be regularly shown on prime time television. He started his career in 1960, and he was a busy character actor on projects like, Naked City and The Jackie Gleason Show, he even had a bit part in the 1975 film, The Stepford Wives.

After he completed his run on The Jeffersons, Cover did the TV sitcom circuit with appearances on 227, Who's The Boss, In the Heat of the Night, Living Single and Mad About You.

His final appearance was on an episode of Will & Grace in 1999. On February 5, 2006, Franklin Cover died while recovering from a heart ailment at the Lillian Booth Actors Home in Englewood, New Jersey.

Roxie Roker played Helen Willis. The character made history as the female half of the first interracial couple to be regularly shown on prime time television.

For Roker, art was an imitation of her real life, as she was married to Jewish television producer, Sy Kravitz for more than 20 years. The couple are the parents of rock star, Lenny Kravitz, and Roxie is also the grandmother of actress, Zoe Kravitz, who is Lenny Karavitz' daughter, with actress Lisa Bonet.

After The Jeffersons ended, Roker went on to a busy schedule of guest starring roles on sitcoms and dramatic television shows to include 227, The Love Boat, Trapper John, MD, and A Different World.

Her last sitcom role was on Hanging with Mr. Cooper in 1993. Just two years later, Roxie Roker died in Los Angeles on December 2, 1995. Breast cancer claimed her life, and she was only 66 years old.