Julia Roberts’ birth was paid for by civil rights icons Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King. That obscure but mind-blowing fact was revealed back in September when Roberts sat down with Gayle King for HISTORYTalks in September. King tells the Oscar-winning actress, “You have two historical figures that I’ll bet most people don’t know this about you: Let’s start with the day you were born. Who paid for the hospital bill?”
Roberts, very taken aback responds, “Okay… you — her research is very good! The King family.” Clarifying that it wasn’t Gayle’s family, Roberts confirmed it was none other than Martin Luther King and his wife Coretta Scott. The Pretty Woman star told Gayle that her parents, Walter and Betty Lou had a theatre school in Atlanta, called the Actors and Writers’ Workshop.
“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 said. “And my mom is like, ‘Sure! Come on over.’ And so they just all became friends and they helped us out of a jam.”
“In the ’60s, you didn’t have little Black children interacting with little white kids in acting school,” Gayle King noted. “And your parents were like, ‘Come on in.’ I think that’s extraordinary, and it sort of lays the groundwork for who you are.”
When it came time for Julia’s birth, her parents couldn’t pay for the hospital bill and the Kings stepped in to help their friends. Per Entertainment Weekly, Julia became friends with Yolanda King, the eldest of MLK’s children, who died in 2007 from complications related to a chronic heart condition. Yolanda had starred in a play produced by the Actors and Writers Workshop in which she kissed a white actor, prompting a member of the KKK to blow up a car outside the theater.
Bernice King, the youngest child of Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, tweeted Sunday (October 30) that she was grateful the story was getting attention, “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.”
Grateful that #JuliaRoberts shared this story with @GayleKing and that so many people have been awed by it.— Be A King (@BerniceKing) October 31, 2022
I know the story well, but it is moving for me to be reminded of my parents’ generosity and influence.#CorettaScottKing #MLK pic.twitter.com/Hn9yOVxYIL
With Roberts’ 55th birthday recently passing on October 28, a tweet from Barack Obama’s former strategic advisor, Zara Rahim, shared the clip on Twitter. It has since gained traction, being viewed nearly 2 million times and has received over 46,000 likes.
Today is Julia Roberts birthday! 55 years ago MLK and Coretta Scott King paid for her parents hospital bill after she was born. Can’t stop thinking about this since I read it. Here she is talking about it with @GayleKing https://t.co/5HvpNSUIYb pic.twitter.com/147x6d807W— Zara Rahim (@ZaraRahim) October 28, 2022