When Julia Roberts was born, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King paid the bill for her maternal grandmother, Rosemarie Garland Davis. Her father, Bob Roberts, was raised by a single mother, who worked in the fields of the South.
Their life in the segregated South was hardly ideal. Roberts says a high school dance with her classmates brought shame on the family, because she and her brother were “different” and “not pretty.”
But because of his work on behalf of the poor and his time in the civil rights movement, Bob Roberts became a role model for his granddaughter. Now, at the age of 73, he is in the process of starting a second career in film, in which he hopes to use his own past to inspire audiences into action.
In the meantime, he is working on a new television series with his wife, Barbara Garson, that will star his daughter, Julia, and feature Bob and his other grandchildren in the roles of children. “It’s going to be a family drama,” he says.
Roberts is also working on a book about his own experiences growing up. But he says he has yet to decide which topic he needs to focus on most.
“We’re just doing what we have to do to make a living,” he says.
Like his parents, Bob Roberts learned from his father how to work hard and take care of himself. As Bob Roberts’ first career began, he was earning about $500 a month as a salesman for a small appliance store, when he was called to the church where he was attending seminary.
At the time, Bob Roberts was a young man trying to make a name for himself in the world of conservative religious institutions, which is what many conservatives are called today.
“My dad’s family was very religious, so he thought he would be a great preacher,” says Julia Roberts. “He went off to seminary and they told him he had a lot of life ahead of him. He had a lot of dreams, but he didn’t want to be a preacher.”
It was then that Bob Roberts decided to do something different with his life. “He left the seminary and he was in the world of business,” says Julia Roberts. “He wasn’t very involved in church. He went out into the world like a cowboy. He was working hard, and he got a job as a salesman.”
Bob Roberts knew