Speaking at an event, the star shared how her parents, Betty Lou Bredemus and Walter Grady Roberts, came to be good friends with the Kings.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on October 31, 2022.
As fans showered Julia Roberts with wishes on the occasion of her 55th birthday, many were surprised to learn an extraordinary fact about the Academy Award-winner's birth. It all started when a video of a recent conversation between Roberts and journalist Gayle King resurfaced on Twitter, in which the pair discussed how Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King helped the star's parents out at the time of her birth. The clip was from September 2022, when the "Pretty Woman" actress and Gayle sat down to talk at A&E Networks and History Channel's "HISTORYTalks" event in Washington, D.C, where the host asked Roberts about the remarkable historical fact connecting her to the civil rights leaders.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Actor Julia Roberts is 55 today.— ABC News (@ABC) October 28, 2022
Archive footage from 1990 shows her discussing filming scenes with Richard Gere in 'Pretty Woman': https://t.co/MVXOvdvsVn pic.twitter.com/jbcm1iUfpg
"OK, her research is very good," Roberts told the crowd when the CBS News reporter broached the topic. "The King family paid for my hospital bills... Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta." When Gayle prompted her to elaborate on how the King family came to pay for her birth, the "Erin Brockovich" star shared how her parents, Betty Lou Bredemus and Walter Grady Roberts, came to be good friends with the Kings. "My parents had a theater school in Atlanta called the Actors and Writers Workshop," she shared. "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. And my mom was like, 'Sure. Come on over.'"
Julia Roberts revealed that Martin Luther King Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King, who were close friends of her parents, paid the hospital bill for her birth https://t.co/HPqPyi2qCn— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) October 30, 2022
"And so they just all became friends and they helped us out of a jam," Roberts added. Gayle went on to emphasize how the actor's family opening their school doors to the King family at the time was a significant move. "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," she said.
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
The "Eat Pray Love" star's backstory came as a revelation to many on Twitter, with one writing: "Wow, I didn't know that. MLK and his family set the bar very high. Bless them." Another tweeted: "I've always found Julia Roberts to be an amazing actress, and definitely in my top 3 of all times. This story leaves me with a lot of PURE joy because now I've learned she is an amazing human being as well." However, this is not the first time that Roberts' connection to Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King has come to light. The digital publication, Obsev wrote about this in an article detailing the racism and bigotry Bredemus and her husband faced for allowing Black children to attend their acting school.
In honor of Julia Roberts’s 55th birthday, fans are recirculating the unbelievable historical fact that connects her to Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King. https://t.co/dNdo8Vjwyx— NBC4 Washington (@nbcwashington) October 31, 2022
One of those children was the Kings' daughter Yolanda King, who died in 2007 at the age of 51. Yolanda spoke about attending the Actors and Writers Workshop in a 2001 interview with CNN. "Mr. Roberts was so imposing," she said at the time. "I loved him, but I was also a little intimidated by him too. And—but he was—I mean, he taught me so much, and he and Mrs. Roberts, about the work, and just about living and being really open, grabbing life and making the best of it." She also shared that she met the "Notting Hill" star for the first time while attending a workshop in Atlanta. "It was an extended family, it really was. And all of these Black kids and white kids getting along, no problems. We had no problems whatsoever, racial problems," she said.