Berlinda Tolbert is an American actress who is most popularly known for portraying the role of Jenny Willis Jefferson in the famous sitcom ‘The Jeffersons’ for ten years. Having been spotted by Martin Scorsese while she was still at acting school, she went on to become a professional actress par excellence, with a career spanning over three decades in the film and television industry. Naturally talented, Berlinda fine-tuned her skills by getting her education in drama and theater, and played many side-characters and smaller roles before getting her big-break on the CBS network show ‘The Jeffersons’. A private person by nature, Berlinda strives to keep her personal life out of the public eye and is not to be found on any social media platform. She is a pure romantic at heart, who fell head over heels and decided on a life-partner in less than two-weeks of knowing one another; she is happily married for over 40 years.
Childhood & Early Life
Berlinda Tolbert was born on the 4 November 1949 in Charlotte, North Carolina, into a liberal family who encouraged her to pursue her talent and build a career in acting. Her father supported and motivated her towards this profession because he believed in her skills, especially after he saw her at a school play and was mighty impressed by her performance.
She got her education from the North Carolina University and did her majors in theater from Winston-Salem’s North Carolina School of the Arts. In order to improve her acting skills and hone her talent in the best manner possible, Berlinda spent time studying drama in London before she got her break in the movies in the early 1970s.
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Berlinda Tolbert started her acting career in the year 1974 when she did a film ‘Airport 1975’, and TV shows such as ‘That’s My Mama’, ‘Sanford and Son’, and ‘The Streets of San Francisco’. She went on to play small characters in shows such as ‘All in the Family’, ‘Mannix’, ‘S.W.A.T.’, and ‘Police Woman’ over the next year before landing the role of ‘Jenny Willis’ in ‘The Jeffersons’.
This role was the most prominent feature in Berlinda’s career as she played it and grew up with the character for over a decade. The chemistry between her and her co-actor Mike Evans was quite appreciated by the audience and they could identify with the struggles the characters went through as a couple. This show was one of the longest running sitcoms on American TV, airing 11 seasons from January 18, 1975 to July 2, 1985.
After that, she did movies like ‘Beverly Hills Brats’ and ‘Harlem Nights’ in 1989, ‘Goodfellas’ with Martin Scorsese in 1990, ‘Patriot Games’ in which she played the role of Sissy in 1992, ‘Dangerous Touch’ in 1994, ‘Strange Fruit’ in 2004, ‘Live!’ in 2007 and ‘Last Ride on the Midwest Pacific’ portraying the character of Angeline in 2011.
Simultaneously, Berlinda Tolbert worked on television shows such as ‘Fantasy Island’, ‘The Love Boat’, ‘Matt Houston’, ‘Airwolf’, ‘Hotel’, ‘Amen’, “Gabriel’s Fire’, ‘Jake and the Fatman’, ‘FBI: The Untold Stories’, ‘Sabrina, The Teenage Witch’, ‘7th Heaven’, ‘The Army Show’, ‘Home Improvement’, ‘Dead Last’, ‘Half & Half’, ‘ER’, ‘Strong Medicine’, ‘Six Feet Under’, and ‘CSI: Crime Scene Investigation’ from 1981 (2) to 2007.
She also starred in the Maya Angelou’s play titled ‘On a Southern Journey’ and was last seen in a short film called ‘Just Another Man’s Wife’ in 2013.
Berlinda Tolbert met Bob Reid, a journalist and producer, in Atlanta, while she was filming for a TV show and Bob was working with the NBC. It was love at first sight and a whirlwind romance followed, wherein the couple decided to spend the rest of their lives together, after knowing each other for only 11 days. The love-birds were married on the 14th of February 1979 on Rhode Island.
The initial seven years of their married life were spent long-distance, as Bob was working in New York while Berlinda had professional commitments in Los Angeles. Although they would make time to visit and stay connected through calls, it was a difficult phase, and Bob decided to quit his job and shift to LA. He took up a journalist’s position at CBS so they could stay together.