‘The Jeffersons’ Remake: Marla Gibbs Makes Surprise Appearance

Wanda Sykes, Marla Gibbs and Jackee Harry in ABC's live episode of The Jeffersons. (Credit: Eric McCandless/ABC)

ABC’s primetime remake of The Jeffersons brought laughs, surprises and nostalgia for viewers of a certain age.

Among the unexpected moments, Marla Gibbs reprised her role as the Jeffersons’ maid Florence Johnston, 44 years after the original series debuted in 1975.

Gibbs, 87, is the last surviving member of the show’s main cast. Just before ABC’s 90-minute special titled Live In Front Of A Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s ‘All in the Family’ and ‘The Jeffersons’ ended Wednesday night, the actress suddenly appeared on stage.

The moment was especially surprising considering ABC previously announced One Day at a Time actress Justina Machado would play Florence.

The cameo came when George and Louise Jefferson — played by Jamie Foxx and Wanda Sykes — welcomed Florence into their home to interview for a job as their maid. As Sykes’ Louise opened the door, Gibbs was standing there and the studio audience erupted in applause.

Read More: ‘The Jeffersons’ Remake – Jennifer Hudson Delivers Powerhouse Performance of Theme Song

Jackée Harry, who played Diane Stockwell on the live episode and co-starred with Gibbs on 227, took to Twitter to say the reunion was “a dream I never knew I had, coming true!”

Gibbs’ Florence stole the show again, when she marveled at the success of Louise and Helen Willis — played by Kerry Washington.

“You got an apartment in this building, and you got one in this building too?” she asked the two African-American women. “How come we overcame and nobody told me?”

There was another big surprise on The Jeffersons, when Jennifer Hudson strutted on stage and belted out the theme song “Movin’ on Up.”

Earlier in the night, Woody Harrelson and Marisa Tomei — who played Archie and Edith Bunker — performed the All in the Family theme song, “Those Were the Days.”

Tomei trended on Twitter throughout the night for her singing, acting and comedic skills. Jamie Foxx was also a fan favorite on social media, despite flubbing one of his lines. The quick-thinking actor and comedian owned up to the mistake and cracked a joke about the show being live [watch below].

Other cast members included Will Ferrell (Tom Willis), Ellie Kemper (Gloria Stivic), Ike Barinholtz (Meathead), Sean Hayes (Mr. Lorenzo), Amber Stevens West (Jenny Willis Jefferson), Jovan Adepo (Lionel Jefferson), Anthony Anderson (Uncle Henry) and Stephen Tobolowsky (Mr. Bentley).

Norman Lear, who created the two sitcoms, hosted and executive produced along with ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel. The two episodes were based on original scripts from the series, including racial slurs you no longer hear on network TV.

Once the two episodes concluded, Kimmel thanked the cast and paid tribute to Lear and Gibbs.

“How about Marla Gibbs? She’ll be 88-years-old in June,” he said before turning to Lear. “This man is 96-years-old. He is the reason we are all here.”

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