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Givens, Robin

Robin Givens

1964–

Actress

Actress Robin Givens has played a wide range of characters throughout her career. A similar diversity marked the roles she played during the months of intense publicity surrounding her marriage to heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson. When their relationship began, Givens was frequently portrayed either as the cultured beauty in love with the street-hardened beast, or the ambitious starlet eager to ride his coattails to fame. When Givens sought divorce, alleging that Tyson had physically abused her, she was reviled in many media reports as a liar and a gold digger. In the aftermath of their marriage and Tyson's later conviction for rape, Givens has emerged as a courageous survivor. In her own eyes, the actress told an Ebony correspondent, she is simply a hard-working actress, "a good human being and incredibly sensitive and vulnerable."

Prior to her relationship with Tyson, Givens was known primarily for her work on the ABC-TV situation comedy Head of the Class. She played the part of Darlene, a student who embodied intelligence, beauty, and a snobby attitude. In some ways, the character's background was similar to that of Givens. Raised by her mother after her parents divorced when she was two years old, Givens attended exclusive private schools in New Rochelle, New York. On weekends, she took lessons in music, dance, and theater arts. This special schooling, along with her natural good looks, helped her to secure modeling jobs and small acting parts while still in her teens. She excelled academically as well, and entered the prestigious Sarah Lawrence College when she was 15.

Givens's years at Sarah Lawrence were marked by personal frictions as well as academic achievement. One of her classmates, Holly Robinson-who went on to star in the television series 21 Jump Street-once knocked Givens down in retaliation for remarks Givens made about Robinson and her mother. The ensuing fight had to be broken up by a resident assistant at the dormitory. Another classmate, businesswoman Kimberly Alexander, was quoted in Sports Illustrated as saying that while she never clashed personally with Givens, "Robin didn't have any friends at Sarah Lawrence. She made her presence known, but she rubbed everybody the wrong way. At our graduation, they called her name and she was booed."

Personal difficulties aside, Givens's performance at Sarah Lawrence was good enough to earn her admission at Harvard University's graduate school of medicine. She enrolled in 1984 with the intention of taking premed courses, but dropped out before a year had passed to pursue a full-time acting career. By 1986 Givens was a familiar figure to American television viewers for her featured role in Head of the Class, a comedy about gifted high school students. Further attention came her way when she began dating such high-profile celebrities as comedian and actor Eddie Murphy and Chicago Bulls basketball star Michael Jordan. Tyson, the boxing champion who had spent much of his youth in reform school, was smitten with Givens the first time he saw her on television and attempted for the next four months to arrange a date with her.

"I was too scared to meet him," Givens was quoted as saying in People. When she finally gave in and met him for dinner in March of 1987, she brought along her mother, her sister, and two publicists. By May of that year she "was very much in love," although in hindsight she confessed, "I should have known about his violent nature the first time he took me to his apartment…. He just picked me up and carried me to 41st Street, where he lived. I didn't want to go…. When I wanted to leave, Michael hit me in the back of the head. It felt like my head would come off."

Despite such ominous warning signs, Givens continued to date Tyson. In November of 1987 Tyson gave some of his views on their relationship to the London Sun. The interview was later quoted by Sports Illustrated: "She has wanted me to marry her for a long time but I ain't going to do it…. We fight all the time. She thinks she is so much better than me, just because she has had an education…. It may be true, but I hate the way she goes about telling me. I retaliate by telling her I am the heavyweight champion and she should know her place. Man, she really gets into a temper at that and comes at me. She knows she can't hurt me if she kicks me in the head so she tries to kick me in the groin."

Tyson and Givens had a spur-of-the-moment wedding on February 7, 1988, repeating their vows two days later after obtaining a marriage license. Cynics immediately pointed out that no prenuptial agreement had been signed, and that Tyson was worth an estimated $50 million. "I feel sorry for Mike Tyson because I hear he's a really nice guy," one of Givens's former classmates was quoted as saying in People. Her statement reflected the common perception that Tyson was the victim, and Givens the predator. "Our agreement is never to get divorced," Givens explained in the same magazine. "Michael said if I ever divorced him, he'd kill me." She added: "He's really just a huge teddy bear."

Over the next few months Givens continued to discuss her marriage in glowing terms, even extending that enthusiasm to the relationship between her husband and her mother, Ruth Roper. In May she announced that she was pregnant, but suffered a miscarriage the following month. Strange stories then began to surface: Tyson ran his car into two parked automobiles, reportedly because Givens was hitting him; he ran another car into a tree in an alleged suicide attempt; and he struck both Givens and her friend, pro tennis player Lori McNeil, while vacationing in the Bahamas. Givens's detractors suggested that she and her mother had provoked the incidents in order to set the scene for a favorable divorce settlement, but Givens continued to profess her love for the fighter.

In September of 1988, just seven months after their marriage, the couple appeared on the television program 20/20 in an interview segment with Barbara Walters. By that time, Givens had publicly stated that her husband was manic-depressive and that he had physically abused her. She repeated those allegations on 20/20 and, according to Newsweek, described her marriage as "torture, pure hell, worse than anything I could imagine." Meanwhile, Tyson sat passively alongside her, under the influence of the powerful antipsychotic drugs lithium and Thorazine. Two weeks later, Givens claimed she was awakened by Tyson striking her about the head and body. She fled their mansion and filed for divorce soon thereafter.

At a Glance …

Born on November 27, 1964, in New York; daughter of Reuben Givens (an artist) and Ruth Roper (a business executive); married Michael Tyson (a boxer), February 7, 1988 (divorced, February 14, 1989); married Svetozar Marinkovic (a tennis player), August 22, 1997 (divorced, 1999); children: Michael (adopted), William (with Murphy Jensen). Education: Sarah Lawrence College, BA, 1984; Harvard University, postgraduate study. Religion: Catholic.

Career : Actor, 1986–.

Addresses: Home—Miami, FL.

Tyson unsuccessfully attempted to have the marriage annulled. In his annulment petition, he accused his wife of coercing him into marriage by pretending to be pregnant. In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times that was later quoted in Ebony, he stated that Givens and her family "don't like or respect Black people. They want to be White so bad. The way they talk about Black people you'd think you were living with the Ku Klux Klan…. Not only did she want to take my money, but she wanted to ruin me, embarrass me, take my manhood and humiliate me on television so that no woman would ever want me again, and that was evil." The end result of all the mudslinging, suits, and countersuits was a divorce in February of 1989 and a seven-figure financial settlement for Givens.

For nearly a year after the divorce, Givens kept a low profile. In 1989, she played the role of Kiswana Browne in Oprah Winfrey's critically acclaimed television movie, Women of Brewster Place. Givens was included in the general praise for Brewster Place, which chronicled the lives of a group of African American women living in an urban housing project and their struggle to maintain personal dignity. That same year, Givens starred in the television movie, The Penthouse. Based on a novel by Elleston Trevor, the film centered around Dinah St. Clair (Givens), a beautiful woman who has a chance meeting with her childhood sweetheart. This man is now a homicidal manic who is obsessed with rekindling their relationship. In March of 1990, Givens granted a lengthy interview to Ebony. Following the interview, she was portrayed much more sympathetically than she had been in the past. Givens described herself as being more mature and spiritual in the wake of the divorce and professed to be friendly with Tyson again. "If she is acting, she's doing a world-class job," noted writer Lynn Randolph. "There's an emotional depth that rings true and something in her eyes says this is not a performance."

In 1991 Givens appeared in her first feature film, A Rage in Harlem. In this adaptation of a Chester Himes novel, she played Imabelle, a loose woman who falls for a pious young accountant and is forced to choose between a trunk of gold and her penniless new love. Givens more than held her own alongside costars Danny Glover and Gregory Hines, according to many reviewers. Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers singled her out as the only player to capture the spirit of Himes's novel, and praised her for adding "dimension and true grit to a film all too eager to settle for being a slick Hollywood package."

In 1992, Givens could be seen in the short-lived television series Angel Street-which featured two female homicide detectives fighting crime in a deteriorating city-as well as in the film Boomerang. She had a supporting role in Boomerang, which starred Eddie Murphy as a heartless playboy who more than meets his match in Givens's character, Jacqueline. Reviewers praised Givens for her deft portrayal of a high-powered executive who embodies stereotypically male attitudes toward sex, sports, and business.

In an article she contributed to Ebony, Givens commented at length on the paucity of parts available to African American actresses and her determination to expand the number of roles for African American women. To this end, she formed her own production company, Never Blue Productions. "As a young actress in Hollywood," she wrote, "I hope that some little girl looks at me and says: 'She's doing it. I can do it.' Often that possibility is what keeps me going when I'm tired and frustrated, when I feel like the injustices of the world have taken their toll on me. If I don't do my part, then the dream has died."

In 1994, Givens starred opposite comedian Damon Wayans in the film Blankman. As television newswoman Kimberly Jonz, she is the first to report on the adventures of a nerdy superhero named Blankman (Wayans). Although Blankman received mixed reviews, Jet praised Givens's contribution to the film because "it allowed her to reveal that she also has a natural flair for comedy." In a departure from her comedic turn in Blankman, Givens starred in the steamy 1994 film Foreign Student. In the role of April, a girl who falls in love with a French foreign exchange student in Virginia during the 1950s, Givens displayed "naked, raw sensuality," according to Jet.

Givens starred as Kaye Ferrar, an abused wife who summons the courage to leave her husband and start a new life with their young child, in the 1995 television movie Dangerous Intentions. That same year, she played the role of Suzanne Graham in the short-lived television series Courthouse. Givens also appeared on several episodes of the NBC television series In the House.

In 1996, Givens again had the opportunity to showcase her comedic talents in the role of Wilma Cuthbert on the UPN television comedy Sparks. She continued in this role until the show was canceled in 1999. In addition to Sparks, Givens played the role of Claudia in the 1996 television movie drama A Face to Die For. She also appeared in episodes of Cosby and Moesha. On August 22, 1997, Givens married Yugoslavian tennis instructor Svetozar Marinkovic. However, the couple separated on the same day. They filed for divorce on December 19, 1997, a divorce that was finalized in 1999. That same year, Givens gave birth a son she conceived with professional tennis player Murphy Jensen. She raised her adopted son, who was born in 1992, and her birth son as a single parent.

Givens portrayed Juanita Jordan, the wife of basketball legend Michael Jordan, in the 1999 television movie Michael Jordan: An American Hero. And after Jo Anne Hart, also known as "Mother Love," was fired as host of the syndicated television show Forgive or Forget, Givens debuted as her replacement in January of 2000. "I've been waiting and hoping for this opportunity for a very long time," she was quoted in Jet as saying. "The reason I like this show is that I get to be myself and you don't have to play a character."

Forgive or Forget did not prove to launch a new career for Givens, however, as it was canceled by the end of 2000. Nevertheless Givens continued to find work. She landed a role in the 2000 film Everything's Jake. In 2003 she played opposite Chris Rock in Head of State. And in 2006, she appeared as part of an ensemble cast in Flip the Script, a movie about the relationship dynamics of a long overdue reunion of friends, a variation on The Big Chill. None of her film or television work in these recent years brought Givens the critical attention she won in Boomerang, but her acting on stage made an impression. Moving from a short stint in on stage in the Los Angeles production of If These Hips Could Talk, Givens made her Broadway debut in 2006 as Roxie Hart in the musical Chicago. She noted to Ed Gordon in an interview for National Public Radio that she was surprised to discover how many people found her being cast in the role of Roxie Hart "significant" for black women, and that she felt "blessed" by her life.

Though Givens voiced a certain contentment with the way her life has turned out, she was open about her active interest in building a reputation for herself based on her skills as a mother and as an actor. Even so many years after her divorce from Tyson, Givens continued to deal with the wake of that storm. And she admitted to National Public Radio that she gets "tired of talking about it." As Rock put it to Heart and Soul in 2003: "I don't know what people think about Robin, but everybody always goes, 'Was she nice?' You don't want to see anyone judged for things that happened in their 20s. That's horrible! We've all done things in our 20s." To finally bring her entire story to light, Givens began work on her memoirs. Her autobiography, Grace Will Lead Me Home, was planned for a 2007 publication. It has yet to be seen if the book will help Givens move on.

Selected works

Films

The Women of Brewster Place, 1989.
A Rage in Harlem, 1991.
Boomerang, 1992.
Blankman, 1994.
Foreign Student, 1994.
Everything's Jake, 2000.
Head of State, 2003.

Plays

Chicago, 2006.
Men, Money and Gold Diggers, 2007.

Television

Head of the Class, 1986–91.
Forgive or Forget, 2000.

Sources

Periodicals

Boston Globe, May 3, 1991.

Cosmopolitan, July 1992, p. 146.

Detroit Free Press, July 1, 1992.

Ebony, January 1989; March 1990; June 1991; October 1992.

Emerge, September 1992.

Entertainment Weekly, July 10, 1992; September 11, 1992.

Heart and Soul, August 2003, p. C3.

Jet, August 15, 1994; February 28, 2000, p. 36.

Newsweek, October 17, 1988; May 13, 1991; July 6, 1992.

New York Times, May 3, 1991; May 12, 1991; July 1, 1992.

Oakland Press (Oakland County, MI), September 13, 1992; October 31, 1992.

People, February 22, 1988; June 27, 1988; October 17, 1988; October 24, 1988; March 6, 1989; March 20, 1989; April 19, 1999.

Rolling Stone, June 13, 1991.

Sports Illustrated, October 24, 1988; December 12, 1988.

Tri-State Defender, March 31, 2004, p. B1.

TV Guide, April 8-14, 2000, p. 34.

Washington Post, May 11, 1991.

On-line

"Intimate Portrait: Robin Givens," Lifetime, www.lifetimetv.com/shows/ip/portraits/0003/0003_bio.html (October 16, 2006).

Other

"Robin Givens Takes on Broadway and Chicago," interview with Robert Gordon, National Public Radio, www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5319496 (October 16, 2006).

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"Givens, Robin." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Givens, Robin." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/givens-robin

Givens, Robin 1965–

Robin Givens 1965

Actress

At a Glance

Embarked on a Rocky Marriage With Tyson

Gained Acclaim for Television and Film Performances

Formed Production Company

Sources

Actress Robin Givens has played a wide range of characters during her career, from a struggling ghetto dweller to a savvy corporate executive. A similar diversity marked the roles she took during the months of intense publicity surrounding her marriage to former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson. When their relationship began, Givens was frequently portrayed either as the cultured beauty in love with the street-hardened beast, or the ambitious starlet eager to ride his coattails to fame. When Givens sought divorce, alleging that Tyson had physically abused her, she was reviled in many media reports as a liar and a gold digger. In the aftermath of their marriage and Tysons later conviction for raping another woman, Givens has emerged as a courageous survivor. In her own eyes, the actress told an Ebony correspondent, she is simply a hard-working actress, a good human being and incredibly sensitive and vulnerable.

Prior to her liaison with Tyson, Givens was known primarily for her work in the ABC-TV situation comedy Head of the Class. She played the part of Darlene, a student who embodied intelligence, beauty, and a snobby attitude. In some ways, the characters background was similar to that of Givens. Raised by her mother after her parents divorced when she was two years old, Givens attended exclusive private schools in New Rochelle, New York. On weekends, she took lessons in music, dance, and theater arts. This special schooling, along with her natural good looks, helped her to secure modeling jobs and small acting parts while still in her teens. She excelled academically as well and entered the prestigious Sarah Lawrence College when she was 15.

Givenss years at Sarah Lawrence were marked by personal frictions as well as academic achievement. One of her classmates, Holly Robinsonwho went on to star in the television series 21 Jump Street once knocked Givens down in retaliation for remarks Givens made about Robinson and her mother. The ensuing fight had to be broken up by a resident assistant at the dormitory. Another classmate, business-woman Kimberly Alexander, was quoted in Sports Illustrated as saying that while she never clashed personally with Givens, Robin didnt have any friends at Sarah Lawrence. She made her presence known, but she rubbed everybody the wrong way. At our graduation, they called her name and she was booed.

Personal difficulties aside, Givenss performance at Sarah

At a Glance

Born in 1965 in New York; daughter of Reuben Givens (an artist) and Ruth Roper (a business executive); married Michael Tyson (a boxer), February 7, 1988 (divorced, February 14, 1989). Religion: Catholic. Education: Sarah Lawrence College, B.A., 1984; post-graduate study at Harvard University.

Actress appearing in television series, including Head of the Class and Angel Street, 1992; in television films, including The Penthouse and The Women of Brewster Place, both 1989; and in motion pictures, including A Rage in Harlem, 1991, and Boomerang, 1992. Founder of Never Blue Productions.

Addresses: Home Los Angeles, CA. Studio c/o CBS-TV, 51 West 52nd St., New York, NY 10019.

Lawrence was good enough to earn her admission at Harvard Universitys graduate school. She enrolled in 1984 with the intention of taking premed courses but dropped out before a year had passed to pursue a full-time acting career. By 1986 she was a familiar figure to American television viewers for her featured role in Head of the Class, a comedy about gifted high school students. Further attention came her way when she began dating such high-profile celebrities as comedian and actor Eddie Murphy and Chicago Bulls basketball star Michael Jordan. Tyson, the boxing champion who had spent much of his youth in reform school, was smitten with Givens the first time he saw her on television and attempted for the next four months to arrange a date with her.

I was too scared to meet him, Givens was quoted as saying in People. When she finally gave in and met him for dinner in March of 1987, she brought along her mother, her sister, and two publicists. By May of that year she was very much in love, although in hindsight she confessed, I should have known about his violent nature the first time he took me to his apartment.... He just picked me up and carried me to 41st Street, where he lived. I didnt want to go.... When I wanted to leave, Michael hit me in the back of the head. It felt like my head would come off.

Despite such ominous warning signs, Givens continued to date Tyson. In November of 1987 Tyson gave some of his views on their relationship to the London Sun. The interview was later quoted by Sports illustrated: She has wanted me to marry her for a long time but I aint going to do it.... We fight all the time. She thinks she is so much better than me, just because she has had an education.... It may be true, but I hate the way she goes about telling me. I retaliate by telling her I am the heavyweight champion and she should know her place. Man, she really gets into a temper at that and comes at me. She knows she cant hurt me if she kicks me in the head so she tries to kick me in the groin.

Embarked on a Rocky Marriage With Tyson

Tyson and Givens had a spur-of-the-moment wedding on February 7, 1988, repeating their vows two days later after obtaining a marriage license. Cynics immediately pointed out that no prenuptial agreement had been signed, and that Tyson was worth an estimated $50 million. I feel sorry for Mike Tyson because I hear hes a really nice guy, one of Givenss former classmates was quoted as saying in People. Her statement reflected the common perception that Tyson was the victim, and Givens the predator. Our agreement is never to get divorced, Givens explained in the same magazine. Michael said if I ever divorced him, hed kill me. She added: Hes really just a huge teddy bear.

Over the next few months Givens continued to discuss her marriage in glowing terms, even extending that enthusiasm to the relationship between her husband and her mother, Ruth Roper. In May she announced that she was pregnant, but suffered a miscarriage the following month. Strange stories then began to surface: Tyson ran his car into two parked automobiles, reportedly because Givens was hitting him; he ran another car into a tree in an alleged suicide attempt; and he struck both Givens and her friend, pro tennis player Lori McNeil, while vacationing in the Bahamas. Givenss detractors suggested that she and her mother had provoked the incidents in order to set the scene for a favorable divorce settlement, but Givens continued to profess her love for the fighter.

In September of 1988, just seven months after their marriage, the couple appeared on the television program 20/20 in an interview segment with Barbara Walters. By that time, Givens had publicly stated that her husband was manic-depressive and that he had physically abused her. She repeated those allegations on 20/20 and, according to Newsweek, described her marriage as torture, pure hell, worse than anything I could imagine. Meanwhile, Tyson sat passively alongside her, under the influence of the powerful antipsychotic drugs lithium and Thorazine. Two weeks later, Givens claimed she was awakened by Tyson striking her about the head and body. She fled their mansion and filed for divorce soon thereafter.

Tyson unsuccessfully attempted to have the marriage annulled. In his annulment petition, he accused his wife of coercing him into marriage by pretending to be pregnant. In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times later quoted in Ebony, he stated that Givens and her family dont like or respect Black people. They want to be White so bad. The way they talk about Black people youd think you were living with the Ku Klux Klan.... Not only did she want to take my money, but she wanted to ruin me, embarrass me, take my manhood and humiliate me on television so that no woman would ever want me again, and that was evil. The end result of all the mudslinging, suits, and countersuits was a divorce in February of 1989 and a seven-figure financial settlement for Givens.

Gained Acclaim for Television and Film Performances

For nearly a year after the divorce, Givens kept a low profile. Two television movies she had already filmed The Penthouse and Oprah Winfreys critically acclaimed Women of Brewster Place were broadcast. Givens was included in the general praise for Brewster Place, which chronicled the lives of a group of black women living in an urban housing project and their struggle to maintain personal dignity. In March of 1990, when she granted a lengthy interview to Ebony, Givens was portrayed much more sympathetically than she previously had been. The actress described herself as being more mature and spiritual in the wake of the divorce and professed to be friendly with Tyson again. If she is acting, shes doing a world-class job, noted writer Lynn Randolph. Theres an emotional depth that rings true and something in her eyes says this is not a performance.

In 1991 Givens appeared in her first feature film, A Rage in Harlem.In this adaptation of a Chester Himes novel, she played Imabelle, a loose woman who falls for a pious young accountant and is forced to choose between a trunk of gold and her penniless new love. Givens more than held her own alongside costars Danny Glover and Gregory Hines, according to many reviewers. Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers singled her out as the only player to capture the spirit of Himess novel, and praised her for adding dimension and true grit to a film all too eager to settle for being a slick Hollywood package.

In 1992 Givens could be seen in the short-lived television series Angel Street which featured two female homicide detectives fighting crime in a deteriorating cityas well as in the film Boomerang. She had a supporting role in Boomerang, which starred Eddie Murphy as a heartless playboy who more than meets his match in Givenss character, Jacqueline. Reviewers praised Givens for her deft portrayal of a high-powered executive who embodies stereotypically male attitudes toward sex, sports, and business.

Formed Production Company

In an article she contributed to Ebony, Givens commented at length on the paucity of parts available to black actresses and her determination to expand the number of roles for African American women. To this end, she formed her own production company, Never Blue Productions. As a young actress in Hollywood, she wrote, I hope that some little girl looks at me and says: Shes doing it. I can do it. Often that possibility is what keeps me going when Im tired and frustrated, when I feel like the injustices of the world have taken their toll on me. If I dont do my part, then the dream has died.

Sources

Boston Globe, May 3, 1991.

Detroit Free Press, July 1, 1992.

Ebony, January 1989; March 1990; June 1991; October 1992.

Emerge, September 1992.

Entertainment Weekly, July 10, 1992; September 11, 1992.

Newsweek, October 17, 1988; May 13, 1991; July 6, 1992.

New York Times, May 3, 1991; May 12, 1991; July 1, 1992.

Oakland Press (Oakland County, MI), September 13, 1992; October 31, 1992.

People, February 22, 1988; June 27, 1988; October 17, 1988; October 24, 1988; March 6, 1989; March 20, 1989.

Rolling Stone, June 13, 1991.

Sports Illustrated, October 24, 1988; December 12, 1988.

Washington Post, May 11, 1991.

Joan Goldsworthy

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"Givens, Robin 1965–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Givens, Robin 1965–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/givens-robin-1965

"Givens, Robin 1965–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/givens-robin-1965

Givens, Robin 1964(?)–

GIVENS, Robin 1964(?)–

PERSONAL

Full name, Robin Simone Givens; born November 27, 1964 (some sources say 1965), in New York, NY; daughter of Reuben and Ruth Roper; married Mike Tyson (a boxer), February 7, 1988 (divorced, February 14, 1989); married Svetozar Marinkovic (a tennis instructor), August 22, 1997 (divorced); children: Michael; (with Murphy Jensen) William. Education: Graduated from Sarah Lawrence College; postgraduate studies at Harvard University; attended American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Avocational Interests: Swimming, working out, watching movies.


Addresses: Contact—5900 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 2600, Los Angeles, CA 90036–5026. Agent—TalentWorks, 3500 West Olive Ave., Suite 1400, Burbank, CA 91505. Manager—Shelter Entertainment, 9255 Sunset Blvd., Suite 500, Los Angeles, CA 90069.


Career: Actress. Never Blue Productions, New York City, founder and director, 1990—; model with the Ford Agency.


Awards, Honors: ShoWest Award, National Association of Theatre Owners, female star of tomorrow, 1991; named one of the "promising new actors of 1991," John Willis' Screen World, 1991; Black Reel Award nomination, television: best supporting actress, 2004, for Hollywood Wives: The New Generation.

CREDITS

Television Appearances; Series:

Darlene Merriman, Head of the Class, ABC, 1986–91.

Detective Anita King, Angel Street, CBS, 1992–93.

Suzanne Graham, Courthouse (also known as Courtroom), CBS, 1995–96.

Wilma Cuthbert, Sparks (also known as Sparks, Sparks and Sparks and Sparks, Sparks, Sparks), UPN, 1996–98.

Host, Forgive or Forget, syndicated, 2000–2001.


Television Appearances; Movies:

April Baxter, Beverly Hills Madam (also known as Ladies of the Night), NBC, 1986.

Dinah St. Clair, The Penthouse, ABC, 1989.

Kiswana Browne, The Women of Brewster Place, NBC, 1989.

Kaye Ferrar, Dangerous Intentions (also known as Nowhere to Hide and On Wings of Fear), CBS, 1995.

Claudia, A Face to Die for (also known as The Face), NBC, 1996.

Juanita Jordan, Michael Jordan: An American Hero (also known as American Hero: The Michael Jordan Story), Fox Family Channel, 1999.

Randy, The Expendables, USA Network, 2000.

Erin, Spinning out of Control, E! Entertainment Television, 2001.

Kyndra, Hollywood Wives: The New Generation (also known as Jackie Collins' Hollywood Wives: The New Generation), CBS, 2003.

Iyana, Book of Love: The Definitive Reason Why Men Are Dogs, Black Entertainment Television, 2005.


Television Appearances; Specials:

Fallen Champ: The Untold Story of Mike Tyson (documentary), NBC, 1993.

It's Hot in Here: UPN Fall Preview, UPN, 1996.

Grace, Secrets, Showtime, 1999.

Weddings of a Lifetime Presents: Love Letters of a Lifetime (documentary), 2001.


Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:

The 15th Annual People's Choice Awards, 1989.

Blockbuster Entertainment Awards, UPN, 1997.


Television Appearances; Episodic:

Suzanne, "Theo and the Older Woman," The Cosby Show, NBC, 1985.

Ann, "The Big Bribe," Diff'rent Strokes, ABC, 1986.

Token Ware, "Pickup on Noon Street," Philip Marlowe, Private Eye, HBO, 1986.

Herself, Soul Train, syndicated, 1986.

"Crime below the Waist," Sonny Spoon, NBC, 1988.

20/20, ABC, 1988.

"Picking up the Pieces," People Magazine on TV, CBS, 1989.

Denise, "Cold Feet, Hot Body," The Fresh Prince of Bel–Air, NBC, 1990.

Nina, "The B Word," Me and the Boys, ABC, 1995.

Nina, "Goldilocks," Me and the Boys, ABC, 1995.

Alex, "Love on a One–Way Street," In the House, NBC, 1996.

Alex, "My Crazy Valentine," In the House, NBC, 1996.

Alex, "Three the Hard Way," In the House, NBC, 1996.

Guest host, The Vicki Lawrence Show, Fox, 1996.

Ladonna, "Strike a Pose," Moesha, UPN, 1997.

Ms. Malone, "Afterschool Delight," Cosby, CBS, 1998.

Dana Chase, "Don't Judge a Book by Its Lover," The Love Boat: The Next Wave, UPN, 1999.

Ms. Malone, "The Vesey Method," Cosby, CBS, 1999.

School counselor, "The Right Thing," Chicken Soup for the Soul, PAX TV, 1999.

Howard Stern, E! Entertainment Television, 1999, multiple episodes in 2000.

Jennifer, "Jennifer Returns," DAG, NBC, 2000.

Herself, Intimate Portrait: Robin Givens (documentary), Lifetime, 2000.

Herself, Talk Soup, E! Entertainment Television, 2000.

"Mike Tyson and Robin Givens," E! True Hollywood Story, E! Entertainment Television, 2002.

Herself, "Head of State," HBO First Look, HBO, 2003.

Sheila, "Spy Games," One on One, UPN, 2003.

The Wayne Brady Show, syndicated, 2003.

Sheila, "Spy Games Reloaded," One on One, UPN, 2004.

Herself, The Oprah Winfrey Show (also known as Oprah), syndicated, 2004.


Appeared in Guiding Light, CBS; Loving, ABC; and The Hollywood Squares.


Television Appearances; Pilots:

Detective Anita King, Angel Street, CBS, 1992.

Girlfriends, syndicated, 1999.


Film Appearances:

The Wiz (musical), Universal, 1978.

Fort Apache, The Bronx, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1981.

(Uncredited; in archive footage) Herself, Superstar: The Life and Times of Andy Warhol (documentary), Aries Films, 1990.

Imabelle, A Rage in Harlem, Miramax, 1991.

Jacqueline, Boomerang, Paramount, 1992.

April, Foreign Student (also known as L'etudiant etranger), Gramercy Pictures, 1994.

Kimberly Jonz, Blankman (also known as Blank Man), Columbia, 1994.

Kaye Ferrar, Dangerous Intentions, 1995.

Secrets, 1997.

Publisher, Everything's Jake, 1999.

Ashe, Elite, PM Entertainment, 2000.

Dr. Rachel Saverini, Antibody, Anti Productions, 2002.

Dana, A Good Night to Die, Regent Entertainment, 2003.

Kim, Head of State, DreamWorks, 2003.

Love Chronicles, Melee Entertainment, 2003.

Forbidden, Swashbucker Films, 2005.


Stage Appearances:

The Vagina Monologues, Westside Theatre Downstairs, New York City, 2000, Canon Theatre, Beverly Hills, CA, 2001.


Radio Appearances; Episodic:

Herself, The Howard Stern Radio Show, 1999, multiple episodes in 2000.


RECORDINGS

Music Videos:

Toni Braxton, "He Wasn't Man Enough," 2000.


OTHER SOURCES

Books:

Contemporary Black Biography, Volume 25, Gale, 2000.


Periodicals:

Ebony, January, 1989, p. 44; March, 1990, p. 45.

Entertainment Weekly, January 9, 1998, p. 14; February 12, 1999, p. 92.

Interview, July, 1987, p. 68; March, 1991, p. 38.

Jet, August 15, 1994, pp. 58–61; February 27, 1995, p. 32; September 18, 1995, pp. 60–63; February 28, 2000, p. 97; February 16, 2004, p. 65.

People Weekly, May 11, 1987, p. 127; February 22, 1988, p. 32; October 17, 1988, p. 60; October 24, 1988, pp. 56–58; February 12, 1999, p. 92; October 29, 2001, p. 90.

Time, October 17, 1988, p. 65.

TV Guide, April 8, 2000, pp. 34–36, 50.

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"Givens, Robin 1964(?)–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Givens, Robin 1964(?)–." Contemporary Theatre, Film and Television. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/givens-robin-1964-0

Givens, Robin 1964–

Robin Givens 1964

Actress

At a Glance

Landed a Television Rote

Embroiled in a Rocky Marriage

Appeared in Motion Pictures

Sources

Actress Robin Givens has played a wide range of characters throughout her career. A similar diversity marked the roles she played during the months of intense publicity surrounding her marriage to heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson. When their relationship began, Givens was frequently portrayed either as the cultured beauty in love with the street-hardened beast, or the ambitious starlet eager to ride his coattails to fame. When Givens sought divorce, alleging that Tyson had physically abused her, she was reviled in many media reports as a liar and a gold digger. In the aftermath of their marriage and Tysons later conviction for rape, Givens has emerged as a courageous survivor. In her own eyes, the actress told an Ebony correspondent, she is simply a hard-working actress, a good human being and incredibly sensitive and vulnerable.

Prior to her relationship with Tyson, Givens was known primarily for her work on the ABC-TV situation comedy Head of the Class, She played the part of Darlene, a student who embodied intelligence, beauty, and a snobby attitude. In some ways, the characters background was similar to that of Givens. Raised by her mother after her parents divorced when she was two years old, Givens attended exclusive private schools in New Rochelle, New York. On weekends, she took lessons in music, dance, and theater arts. This special schooling, along with her natural good looks, helped her to secure modeling jobs and small acting parts while still in her teens. She excelled academically as well, and entered the prestigious Sarah Lawrence College when she was 15.

Givenss years at Sarah Lawrence were marked by personal frictions as well as academic achievement. One of her classmates, Holly Robinsonwho went on to star in the television series 21 Jump Street once knocked Givens down in retaliation for remarks Givens made about Robinson and her mother. The ensuing fight had to be broken up by a resident assistant at the dormitory. Another classmate, businesswoman Kim-berly Alexander, was quoted in Sports Illustrated as saying that while she never clashed personally with Givens, Robin didnt have any friends at Sarah Lawrence. She made her presence known, but she rubbed everybody the wrong way. At our graduation, they called her name and she was booed.

At a Glance

Born in November 27, 1964 in New York, NY; daghter of Reuben Givens (an artist) and Ruth Roper (a business executive); married Michael Tyson (a boxer), February 7, 1988 (divorced, February 14, 1989); married Svetozar Marinkovic (a tennis player), August 22, 1997 (divorced, 1999); children: one. Religion: Catholic. Education: Sarah Lawrence College, B.A., 1984; postgraduate study at Harvard University.

Career: Actress appearing in television series, including Head of the Class, 1992; Angel Street, 1992; Courthouse, 1995; Sparks, 199699; in television films, Including The Penthouse, 1989; The Women of Brewster Place, 1989; Dangerous Intentions, 1995; A Face to Die For, 1996; Michael Jordan: An American Hero, 1999; and in motion pictures, including A. Rage in Harlem, 1991, Boomerang, 1992; Blankman, 1994; Foreign Student, 1994; Everythings lake, 2000; host of television show, Forgiveor Forget, 2000-. Founder of Never Blue Productions.

Addresses: HomeLos Angeles, CA. Studio Twentieth Television, 2121 Avenue of the Stars, 21st Floor, LosAngeles, CA 90067.

Landed a Television Rote

Personal difficulties aside, Givenss performance at Sarah Lawrence was good enough to earn her admission at Harvard Universitys graduate school of medicine. She enrolled in 1984 with the intention of taking premed courses, but dropped out before a year had passed to pursue a full-time acting career. By 1986 Givens was a familiar figure to American television viewers for her featured role in Head of the Class, a comedy about gifted high school students. Further attention came her way when she began dating such high-profile celebrities as comedian and actor Eddie Murphy and Chicago Bulls basketball star Michael Jordan. Tyson, the boxing champion who had spent much of his youth in reform school, was smitten with Givens the first time he saw her on television and attempted for the next four months to arrange a date with her.

I was too scared to meet him, Givens was quoted as saying in People. When she finally gave in and met him for dinner in March of 1987, she brought along her mother, her sister, and two publicists. By May of that year she was very much in love, although in hindsight she confessed, I should have known about his violent nature the first time he took me to his apartment. He just picked me up and carried me to 41st Street, where he lived. I didnt want to go. When I wanted to leave, Michael hit me in the back of the head. It felt like my head would come off.

Despite such ominous warning signs, Givens continued to date Tyson. In November of 1987 Tyson gave some of his views on their relationship to the London Sun. The interview was later quoted by Sports illustrated: She has wanted me to marry her for a long time but I aint going to do it. We fight all the time. She thinks she is so much better than me, just because she has had an education. It may be true, but I hate the way she goes about telling me. I retaliate by telling her I am the heavyweight champion and she should know her place. Man, she really gets into a temper at that and comes at me. She knows she cant hurt me if she kicks me in the head so she tries to kick me in the groin.

Embroiled in a Rocky Marriage

Tyson and Givens had a spur-of-the-moment wedding on February 7, 1988, repeating their vows two days later after obtaining a marriage license. Cynics immediately pointed out that no prenuptial agreement had been signed, and that Tyson was worth an estimated 50 million. I feel sorry for Mike Tyson because I hear hes a really nice guy, one of Givenss former classmates was quoted as saying in People. Her statement reflected the common perception that Tyson was the victim, and Givens the predator. Our agreement is never to get divorced, Givens explained in the same magazine. Michael said if I ever divorced him, hed kill me. She added: Hes really just a huge teddy bear.

Over the next few months Givens continued to discuss her marriage in glowing terms, even extending that enthusiasm to the relationship between her husband and her mother, Ruth Roper. In May she announced that she was pregnant, but suffered a miscarriage the following month. Strange stories then began to surface: Tyson ran his car into two parked automobiles, reportedly because Givens was hitting him; he ran another car into a tree in an alleged suicide attempt; and he struck both Givens and her friend, pro tennis player Lori McNeil, while vacationing in the Bahamas. Givenss detractors suggested that she and her mother had provoked the incidents in order to set the scene for a favorable divorce settlement, but Givens continued to profess her love for the fighter.

In September of 1988, just seven months after their marriage, the couple appeared on the television program 20\20 in an interview segment with Barbara Walters. By that time, Givens had publicly stated that her husband was manic-depressive and that he had physically abused her. She repeated those allegations on 20\20 and, according to Newsweek, described her marriage as torture, pure hell, worse than anything I could imagine. Meanwhile, Tyson sat passively alongside her, under the influence of the powerful antipsychotic drugs lithium and Thorazine. Two weeks later, Givens claimed she was awakened by Tyson striking her about the head and body. She fled their mansion and filed for divorce soon thereafter.

Tyson unsuccessfully attempted to have the marriage annulled. In his annulment petition, he accused his wife of coercing him into marriage by pretending to be pregnant. In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times that was later quoted in Ebony, he stated that Givens and her family dont like or respect Black people. They want to be White so bad. The way they talk about Black people youd think you were living with the Ku Klux Klan . Not only did she want to take my money, but she wanted to ruin me, embarrass me, take my manhood and humiliate me on television so that no woman would ever want me again, and that was evil. The end result of all the mudslinging, suits, and coun-tersuits was a divorce in February of 1989 and a seven-figure financial settlement for Givens.

For nearly a year after the divorce, Givens kept a low profile. In 1989, she played the role of Kiswana Browne in Oprah Winfreys critically acclaimed television movie, Women of Brewster Place. Givens was included in the general praise for Brewster Place, which chronicled the lives of a group of African American women living in an urban housing project and their struggle to maintain personal dignity. That same year, Givens starred in the television movie, The Penthouse. Based on a novel by Elleston Trevor, the film centered around Dinah St. Clair (Givens), a beautiful woman who has a chance meeting with her childhood sweetheart. This man is now a homicidal manic who is obsessed with rekindling their relationship. In March of 1990, Givens granted a lengthy interview to Ebony. Following the interview, she was portrayed much more sympathetically than she had been in the past. Givens described herself as being more mature and spiritual in the wake of the divorce and professed to be friendly with Tyson again. If she is acting, shes doing a world-class job, noted writer Lynn Randolph. Theres an emotional depth that rings true and something in her eyes says this is not a performance.

Appeared in Motion Pictures

In 1991 Givens appeared in her first feature film, A Rage in Harlem. In this adaptation of a Chester Himes novel, she played Imabelle, a loose woman who falls for a pious young accountant and is forced to choose between a trunk of gold and her penniless new love. Givens more than held her own alongside costars Danny Glover and Gregory Hines, according to many reviewers. Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers singled her out as the only player to capture the spirit of Himess novel, and praised her for adding dimension and true grit to a film all too eager to settle for being a slick Hollywood package.

In 1992, Givens could be seen in the short-lived television series Angel Street which featured two female homicide detectives fighting crime in a deteriorating cityas well as in the film Boomerang. She had a supporting role in Boomerang, which starred Eddie Murphy as a heartless playboy who more than meets his match in Givenss character, Jacqueline. Reviewers praised Givens for her deft portrayal of a high-powered executive who embodies stereotypically male attitudes toward sex, sports, and business.

In an article she contributed to Ebony, Givens commented at length on the paucity of parts available to African American actresses and her determination to expand the number of roles for African American women. To this end, she formed her own production company, Never Blue Productions. As a young actress in Hollywood, she wrote, I hope that some little girl looks at me and says: Shes doing it. I can do it. Often that possibility is what keeps me going when Im tired and frustrated, when I feel like the injustices of the world have taken their toll on me. If I dont do my part, then the dream has died.

In 1994, Givens starred opposite comedian Damon Wayans in the film Blankman. As television news-woman Kimberly Jonz, she is the first to report on the adventures of a nerdy superhero named Blankman (Wayans). Although Blankman received mixed reviews, Jet praised Givenss contribution to the film because it allowed her to reveal that she also has a natural flair for comedy. In a departure from her comedic turn in Blankman, Givens starred in the steamy 1994 film Foreign Student. In the role of April, a girl who falls in love with a French foreign exchange student in Virginia during the 1950s, Givens displayed naked, raw sensuality, according to Jet.

Givens starred as Kaye Ferrar, an abused wife who summons the courage to leave her husband and start a new life with their young child, in the 1995 television movie Dangerous Intentions. That same year, she played the role of Suzanne Graham in the short-lived television series Courthouse. Givens also appeared on several episodes of the NBC television series In the House.

In 1996, Givens again had the opportunity to showcase her comedic talents in the role of Wilma Cuthbert on the UPN television comedy Sparks. She continued in this role until the show was canceled in 1999. In addition to Sparks, Givens played the role of Claudia in the 1996 television movie drama A Face to Die For. She also appeared in episodes of Cosby and Moesha. On August 22, 1997, Givens married Yugoslavian tennis instructor Svetozar Marinkovic. However, the couple separated on the same day. They filed for divorce on December 19, 1997, a divorced which was finalized in 1999.

Givens portrayed Juanita Jordan, the wife of basketball legend Michael Jordan, in the 1999 television movie Michael Jordan: An American Hero. In October of 1999, Givens and tennis player Murphy Jensen became the parents of a baby boy. After Jo Anne Hart, also known as Mother Love, was fired as host of the syndicated television show Forgive or Forget, Givens debuted as her replacement in January of 2000. In addition to hosting Forgive or Forget, she also landed a role in the 2000 film Everythings Jake.

Sources

Boston Globe, May 3, 1991.

Detroit Free Press, July 1, 1992.

Ebony, January 1989; March 1990; June 1991; October 1992.

Emerge, September 1992.

Entertainment Weekly, July 10, 1992; September 11, 1992.

Jet, August 15, 1994.

Newsweek, October 17, 1988; May 13, 1991; July 6, 1992.

New York Times, May 3, 1991; May 12, 1991; July 1, 1992.

Oakland Press (Oakland County, MI), September 13, 1992; October 31, 1992.

People, February 22, 1988; June 27, 1988; October 17, 1988; October 24, 1988; March 6, 1989; March 20, 1989.

Rolling Stone, June 13, 1991.

Sports Illustrated, October 24, 1988; December 12, 1988.

Washington Post, May 11, 1991.

Joan Goldsworthy and David G. Oblender

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"Givens, Robin 1964–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Givens, Robin 1964–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/givens-robin-1964