Julia Roberts Says Martin Luther King Jr. Paid the Hospital Bill for Her Birth
The actor revealed her parents were close friends with the civil rights activist and his wife.
I’ll take “Fun Facts About Celebrities That I Had Absolutely No Clue About For $500, Alex!” Julia Roberts revealed during a September 2022 sit-down with CBS News reporter Gayle King for the History Channel and revealed some extremely interesting facts about her childhood.
King asked Roberts who paid for the hospital bill at her birth. “Her research is very good!” Roberts noted to the audience with a smile.
She soon revealed that late civil rights activists Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King paid the bill.
“The King family paid for my hospital bill… Martin Luther King and Coretta,” Roberts told Gayle King.
Roberts said that the King family “helped us out of a jam” when her parents couldn’t afford to pay the hospital bill for her birth on Oct. 28, 1967, in Smyrna, Georgia.
The conversation, which was part of a series called “HISTORYTalks”, went viral after Zara Rahim, a former strategic adviser to President Barack Obama, tweeted the clip to celebrate the Ticket to Paradise star’s 55th birthday.
In the viral clip, she goes on to explain that her parents, who owned an acting school, became friends with the King family after they opened their doors for the King children to attend — something very taboo during that time in America.
“One day Coretta 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 told King. “My mom was like, ‘Sure, come on over,’ and so they all just became friends.”
Roberts’ parents, Walter and Betty Lou Roberts, ran the Actors and Writers Workshop in Atlanta, Georgia starting in 1967. During this time in the United States, segregation kept King’s daughters from attending any “white” schools, including theater schools.
Following the acceptance of the King children into the school, violence broke out. According to Insider, a Ku Klux Klan member blew up a car outside of the school. In an essay by Phillip Depoy published on Arts ATL, a publication that covers Atlanta's art scene, this story is given in vivid detail.
“I kissed a girl, and 10 yards away, a Buick exploded,” wrote DePoy. “… The girl was Yolanda King, daughter of Coretta and Martin Luther King Jr. I was primarily Caucasian and Yolanda wasn’t. That’s what the trouble was about. I don’t know who owned the Buick, but I know who blew it up.”
The act of violence was in response to Yolanda being cast as a love interest to a white boy, Depoy explained.
Gayle King praised Roberts parents for their progressive ways during such a divisive time in America and applauded the Roberts family for their role in integrating children of different races into their school.
"In the 60s, you didn't have little Black children interacting with little white kids in an acting school, and your parents were like 'come on in.' I think that's extraordinary and it sort of lays the groundwork for who you are," Gayle said.
This is not the first time that Roberts has spoke about racial injustices in America. All the way back in 1990, during an interview with Rolling Stone, the Pretty Woman actress spoke with the outlet about her time filming the film Sleeping with the Enemy in Abbeville, South Carolina.
She said the town was "horribly racist" and called it a "living hell" after her Black friend was refused service at a restaurant. The town retaliated and put out an ad in a 1990 issue of Variety calling the actress “pretty low.”
However, fast forward a couple of decades and it’s clear that she was right.
One fan summed up this surprising detail about Roberts’ birth the best. “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. I learned this about her last year and was surprised as well!” they tweeted.
If there were any more of a reason to love America’s Sweetheart — here you go!