In one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s last acts of generosity, the civil rights champion and his wife, Coretta, paid the hospital bill for the parents of Julia Roberts after her birth, the superstar actress recently revealed.
The little-known fact came to light in a social media post of a clip from an interview Roberts, 55, gave to “CBS Mornings” host Gayle King last month.
“My parents had a theater school in Atlanta called the Actors and Writers’ Workshop,” Roberts said. “And one day Coretta Scott King called my mother and asked if her kids could be part of the school because they were having a hard time finding a place that would accept her kids.”
Roberts’ mother agreed to do so, beginning the friendship between the civil rights leaders and Walter and Betty Lou Roberts.
That led to the Kings paying for the birth of the woman who would go on to become an international star.
“They helped us out of a jam,” Julia Roberts said.
An assassin’s bullet cut down King in Memphis on April 4, 1968. But just months before, on Oct. 28, 1967, Roberts’ mother went into labor in Smyrna, Georgia.
Until now, the story had largely gone untold.
“Grateful that Julia Roberts shared this story with Gayle King,” Bernice King, daughter of Martin and Coretta, wrote on Twitter. “And, that so many people have been awed by it. I know the story well, but it is moving for me to be reminded of my parents’ generosity and influence.”
Added noted strategic adviser Zara Rahim: “Fifty-five years ago, MLK and Coretta Scott King paid for [Roberts’ parents’] hospital bill after she was born. Can’t stop thinking about this since I read it.”
Writer Christopher “Mr. Christopher” Seals commended the Oscar-winning actress for not exploiting such an impressive cultural nugget.
“The fact that Julia Roberts has one of the ultimate civil rights flexes, but never talked about this throughout her career, says everything about her character,” Seals wrote. “I learned this about her last year and was surprised as well.”