Robin Simone Givens (born November 27, 1964) is an American stage, television, and film actress.
Givens began her acting career after graduating from Sarah Lawrence College in 1984. In 1986, she won the role of Darlene Merriman in the ABC sitcom Head of the Class. She remained with the series for its entire five-year run. After the series ended in 1991, she continued her career with film roles and guest starring roles on television.
In 1996, Givens co-starred on the sitcom Sparks, which aired for two seasons on UPN. In January 2000, she took over hosting duties on the syndicated talk show Forgive or Forget. The show was canceled four months later. Givens has since had recurring roles on The Game, Tyler Perry's House of Payne, and Chuck. In 2007, Givens released her autobiography, Grace Will Lead Me Home.
Givens has been married and divorced twice. Her first marriage, to boxer Mike Tyson in 1988, drew considerable media attention as did their divorce the following year. Her second marriage, to tennis instructor Svetozar MarinkoviÄ in 1997, also lasted a year. In 1993, Givens adopted a son. In 2000, she gave birth to a second son fathered by her ex-boyfriend, tennis player Murphy Jensen.
Givens was born in New York City to Ruth Roper (nÃ©e Newby) and Reuben Givens, who divorced when she was two. Her mother raised Givens and her sister Stephanie in Mount Vernon and New Rochelle, New York. Givens graduated from New Rochelle Academy (a Nâ"12 private school which closed in June 1987), and enrolled at Sarah Lawrence College at age 15. She graduated in 1984.
Givens first began acting in 1985 with an appearance on The Cosby Show, followed by roles in Diff'rent Strokes and the 1986 television film Beverly Hills Madam, opposite Faye Dunaway. That same year, she landed her breakthrough role as rich girl Darlene Merriman on the ABC sitcom Head of the Class. The series lasted five seasons, ending in 1991. In 1989, while starring in Head of the Class, she appeared in The Women of Brewster Place with Oprah Winfrey. She later appeared in Boomerang (1992). In 1994, she posed nude for Playboy magazine and was ranked #88 on Empire Magazine's 100 Sexiest Stars in Film History list in May 1995. In 1996, Givens portrayed Claudia in the television movie The Face (also known as A Face to Die For) with Yasmine Bleeth. Later that year, she co-starred in the UPN sitcom Sparks, which series ended its run in 1998. She also played Denise in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
In January 2000, Givens appeared in a cameo in Toni Braxton's music video "He Wasn't Man Enough", as the wife of a cheating husband. She returned to the entertainment industry later that year as the host of the talk show Forgive or Forget, replacing television personality Mother Love halfway through the show's second. Ratings initially increased after Givens took over hosting duties, but soon fell. The series was canceled after this season.
In 2006, Givens attempted a return to television on MyNetworkTV's telenovela Saints and Sinners, but the show garnered low ratings and was soon canceled. Givens continued acting in made-for-television films while also making appearances on Trinity Broadcasting Network's Praise the Lord program (July 12, 2007), and Larry King Live. In June 2007, she released her autobiography Grace Will Lead Me Home.
Givens returned to feature films in Tyler Perry's Southern drama The Family That Preys (2008). She also had a recurring role portraying a fictionalized version of herself on the CW comedy-drama The Game. Additionally, she has had a recurring role on the TBS show Tyler Perry's House of Payne, and a guest role on USA Network's Burn Notice.
In addition to television and film roles, Givens has performed onstage. In 2001, she appeared in an Off Broadway production of The Vagina Monologues. From February to April 16, 2006, she played the role of Roxie Hart in the Broadway play Chicago. In 2007, she toured the country playing a part in the I'm Ready Productions play Men, Money & Golddiggers. Givens starred in the 2009 stage play A Mother's Prayer, which also starred Johnny Gill, Shirley Murdock, and Jermaine Crawford.
In 2007, Givens published a memoir entitled Grace Will Lead Me Home. In it, she reflects on the life of her praying grandmother, Grace, her experiences of domestic violence, her strong will to survive, feeling abandoned by her father, and her faith in God. In 2011, she guest-starred in three episodes of NBC's spy-comedy Chuck: "Chuck Versus the Masquerade", "Chuck Versus the A-Team", and "Chuck Versus the Muuurder", as Jane Bentley. 2015 starred along Clifton Powell, Mishon Ratliff and Malachi Malik in the segment Mama's Boy of TV One's anthology Romance Horror film Fear Files.
Marriages and children
After meeting in March 1987, Givens married boxer Mike Tyson on February 7, 1988. Tyson was then estimated to have US$50 million, and he and Givens did not make a prenuptial agreement. During their marriage, Givens and her mother bought a $4.6 million mansion in the affluent suburb of Bernardsville, New Jersey.
After an alleged miscarriage in May 1988, the marriage began to fall apart. Givens alleged spousal abuse, while Tyson alleged alienation and interest in his money, not in him. The marriage ended on Valentine's Day, just a year later. Newspapers reported that Givens received a divorce settlement of over $10 million from her marriage to Tyson. She later denied the report, stating: "I didnât receive one dime". She received negative press following her split from Tyson, particularly within the African American community. One article, in particular, described her as "the most hated woman in America".
In 1993, Givens adopted her first son, Michael. In 1997, she married her tennis instructor, Svetozar MarinkoviÄ; Givens filed for divorce months later. In 2000, she had a second son, William, with ex-boyfriend, Murphy Jensen.
In January 2004, Givens critically injured an 89-year-old pedestrian, Maria Antonia Alcover, while driving an SUV through a Miami, Florida intersection. Givens was ticketed for failing to use due care with a pedestrian in a crosswalk, but the charges were later dismissed. In June 2004, Alcover filed a civil lawsuit against Givens and her sister (the owner of the SUV Givens was driving) for an unknown amount.
A May 7, 2009 article in Forbes magazine reported that the Internal Revenue Service was suing Givens for unpaid federal income taxes totaling $292,000, which includes interest and penalties. The government had asked a federal court in Florida for a judgment against her on 39 assessments covering a span of eight years.
Awards and nominations
- Givens, Robin (June 7, 2007). Grace Will Lead Me Home. New York: Miramax. ISBNÂ 1-4013-5246-4.Â
- Robin Givens at the Internet Movie Database
- Robin Givens at the Internet Broadway Database
- Robin Givens at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Robin Givens at AllMovie