Passions: Whatever Happened to… Aunt Irma
Harmony’s, apparently solitary, super doctor, Eve Russell could use a little more support right now considering the chaos that seems to engulf every moment of her life, drunk or sober. Unfortunately for her, there’s no one to turn to, certainly not her family, who are usually the source of most of her problems. The woman who used to call Eve a certain nasty word, and just about every variation on the term, with the frequency that most people breathe, certainly wouldn’t be giving her any support right now. That woman, of course, was Aunt Irma, the curmudgeony aunt wedged in a senior citizen’s home. Irma Johnson was close to Eve when she was a little girl, but that soon ended when the teenaged Eve got herself involved in drugs and the pleasures of male company. After Eve was impregnated by Julian, she was cut off from the family for being involved with a White man. Nonetheless, Eve still paid all of Irma’s living expenses for years, though she told everyone in Harmony that she had no family. Eve’s malevolent sister Liz would soon put an end to that, drawing the angry aunt back into the fold to destroy Eve’s marriage to TC with revelations of her past debaucheries.
Irma was played by the legendary Marla Gibbs from 2004 until 2005. Gibbs was no stranger to the world of television when she took on the recurring role. She had already led a highly respected and groundbreaking career as an actress, excelling in comedy. She is probably best known for her portrayal of Florence Johnston on the hit sitcom The Jeffersons which she joined in 1977. Although she left the series briefly, following it up with a spin-off called Checking-In which was built around her character, she soon returned. In the aftermath of the show’s finale, she took to the stage, starring in 227, a hit play which she bought the rights for and turned into a successful sitcom that ran on NBC from 1985 until 1990. Since then, she has remained active on TV, performing on The Nick Cannon Show, The Dave Chappelle Show, The Fresh prince of Bel-Air, Judging Amy, Dawson’s Creek and The Hughleys. Through all of that, she received four Emmy nominations and won eight NAACP Image Awards.
After leaving the cast of Passions, she recorded her own CD, It’s Never Too Late, which was released in 2006 and reflected her lifelong affair with music (she even owned a jazz club in LA). She also appeared on Cold Case and Listen Up before taking roles in the films Love on the Layaway and The Ties That Bind. Once again she returned to her theatrical roots, appearing in a New York production of The Vagina Monologues before completing work on a short film, entitled Two for Paula. That film should see release in the coming months.