Robin Givens is an American actress and model. She commenced acting after graduating from Sarah Lawrence College. Her big break came when she portrayed the character of Darlene Merriman in the ABC sitcom series ‘Head of the Class’. She garnered widespread recognition portraying the character in all five seasons of the show. She also starred in short-lived sitcom series ‘Sparks’; miniseries ‘The Women of Brewster Place’; and television films like ‘Beverly Hills Madam’ and ‘A Face to Die For’. She played recurring roles in TV shows like ‘The Game’ and ‘Chuck’, and since 2017, features in recurring role of Mayor Sierra McCoy in the TV series ‘Riverdale’. Givens starred in many films including ‘Boomerang’ and ‘God's Not Dead 2’ and performed onstage including in the Broadway play ‘Chicago’. Robin Givens also garnered spotlight for her short-lived marriages with boxing legend Mike Tyson and tennis instructor Svetozar Marinković. She has a biological son born through ex-boyfriend, tennis player Murphy Jensen, and also has an adopted son.
Childhood & Early Life
Robin Simone Givens was born on November 27, 1964, in New York City, to Reuben Givens and Ruth Roper (née Newby). When she was two years old, her parents divorced following which she and her sister Stephanie were brought up by their mother in Mount Vernon and New Rochelle, New York. She was raised as a Catholic.
Her mother motivated the two siblings in creative pursuits. With time Givens developed interest in acting and took acting classes at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.
Robin Givens graduated from New Rochelle Academy. Thereafter she studied at the Sarah Lawrence College and graduated in 1984. She also enrolled at the Harvard Medical School and studied there for two years, however, she did not complete her graduation.
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Robin Givens played her first credited role in 1985 in an episode of the sitcom ‘The Cosby Show’. She first starred in the NBC aired 1986 made-for-television drama film ‘Beverly Hills Madam’. Her real breakthrough came when she portrayed spoilt rich girl, Darlene Merriman, in all five seasons (1986–1991) of the ABC aired sitcom series ‘Head of the Class’.
She appeared in several other television productions. These include starring in miniseries ‘The Women of Brewster Place' (1989) with Oprah Winfrey; television movies like ‘A Face to Die For’ (1996), ‘The Expendables’ (2000) and ‘Hollywood Wives: The New Generation’ (2003); and series like ‘Sparks’ (1996–1998).
Robin Givens featured in recurring roles in series ‘The Game’ (2008), ‘Tyler Perry's House of Payne’ (2008) and ‘Chuck’ (2011), and since 2017 appears in the recurring role of Mayor McCoy in ‘Riverdale’. She will star as Stephanie Carlisle in the upcoming drama series ‘Ambitions’, set to premiere on the Oprah Winfrey Network in 2019.
Starting from ‘A Rage in Harlem’ (1991), Givens has starred in many big-screen flicks. These include the hit rom-com ‘Boomerang’ (1992) with Eddie Murphy; superhero-comedy-parody ‘Blankman’ (1994); and Christian drama ‘God's Not Dead 2’ (2016).
She posed nude for Playboy magazine in 1994. (In)The Empire Magazine's list of 100 Sexiest Stars in Film History ranked her #88 in May 1995.
She replaced television personality Mother Love in 2000 to host talk show ‘Forgive or Forget’.
Robin also thrived onstage performing in an Off Broadway production of ‘The Vagina Monologues’ in 2001; as Roxie Hart in the Broadway play ‘Chicago’ from February to April 16, 2006; in the I'm Ready Productions play ‘Men, Money & Golddiggers’ in 2007; and in ‘A Mother's Prayer’ in 2009.
She released her autobiography ‘Grace Will Lead Me Home’ in June 2007. She is associated with the National Domestic Violence Hotline as a spokesperson.
Family & Personal Life
Robin Givens met Mike Tyson in March 1986 and married him on February 7, 1988. The marriage hit the rocks following a May 1988 miscarriage. Givens filed for divorce in October that year and alleged spousal abuse. On the other hand Tyson alleged that she was interested in his money and not in him. Tyson’s 1989 biography ‘Fire and Fear: The Inside Story of Mike Tyson’ however mentioned that he punched Givens.
Divorce of Givens and Tyson was finalized in 1989 on Valentine's Day. Givens denied that she received any divorce settlement amount which was reported by newspapers to be over $10 million. Split with Tyson garnered her negative press, especially among the African-American community. She was even described as America’s most hated woman in an article.
Robins Givens’ second marriage with her tennis instructor, Svetozar Marinković was also short-lived from 1997 to 1998.
Meanwhile she adopted a son, Michael, in 1993. She also had a second son, William, in 1999 born through her ex-boyfriend, Murphy Jensen.
Robin Givens has been on the the wrong side of law a few times. She was ticketed for critically injuring an 89-year-old pedestrian, Maria Antonia Alcover, while driving her sister’s SUV in January 2004. In June 2004 Alcover filed a civil lawsuit against the two sisters for an undisclosed amount.
According to a Forbes magazine article dated May 7, 2009, Internal Revenue Service was suing Givens for unpaid federal income taxes that amounted to $292,000 including penalties and interests.