Paying it forward. Julia Roberts confirmed that Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King paid the hospital bill for her birth to help her parents.
After a tweet noting that “Martin Luther King Jr paying for [Roberts’] birth is still a little known fact that sends me,” went viral earlier this month, consultant Zara Rahim shared a clip from the 55-year-old Oscar winner’s September interview with Gayle King on Friday, October 28. “Today is Julia Roberts birthday! 55 years ago MLK and Coretta Scott King paid for her parents hospital bill after she was born,” she added via Twitter. “Can’t stop thinking about this since I read it. Here she is talking about it.”
“My parents [Walter and Betty Lou Roberts] had a theater school in Atlanta called the Actors and Writers’ Workshop,” Roberts recalled during the interview. “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.” After the Mystic Pizza star’s parents accepted the King children into the program, they formed a close friendship with the late civil rights leaders, who were married for 15 years prior to the minister’s assassination.
“We didn’t have the money to pay for [the hospital bills],” Roberts continued. “They helped us out of a jam.”
The CBS News cohost, 67, added that the Roberts family’s friendship with the Kings was particularly significant due to segregation and racial inequality. “In the ’60s, you didn’t have little Black children interacting with little white kids in acting school,” Gayle explained. “And Julia’s parents were welcoming, and I think that’s extraordinary, and it lays the groundwork for who Julia is.”
The Erin Brockovich star’s famous family has frequently made headlines over the years, particularly regarding her reportedly strained relationship with older brother Eric Roberts. Though the Star 80 actor, 66, has frequently defended their strong sibling bond, he did tell Vanity Fair in January 2018 that his past substance abuse issues caused tension between them. “I wouldn’t characterize it as a falling-out. I was crazy about my sisters. Loved them, adored them,” he said at the time, referring to Julia and Lisa Roberts Gillian. “They were precious to me, and we had times of great closeness. We all felt very protective of each other, but the hardest person to protect yourself from is yourself.”
He continued: “I was exhausting to be around: complainy, blamey, unable to enjoy enjoyment. Everyone in my world needed a break sometimes, and that must have included Julia.”
Earlier this year, Eric explained that rumors he fell out with Pretty Woman star began after a sarcastic comment he made was taken out of context. “Julia and I have always been fine,” the Dark Knight actor said during an appearance on the “Behind The Velvet Rope With David Yontef” podcast in June. “I think years and years ago, I was doing a press tour for some movie … It was just when Pretty Woman [had been] released, and so they’re asking a bunch of questions about Julia. And I said, ‘Hey, excuse me. Can we talk about me?’”
After that, Eric was asked about all of the “issues” he was having with Julia in almost every interview he did. “[These problems were] just popping up all over the place, and I’m asked about them as if they’re real issues,” he recalled. “[I’d say,] ‘Oh, I wasn’t aware of that.’ … [It] blew up and blew up and became all these things it wasn’t and [there was gossip that] we don’t agree on a lot of things.”