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Robin Simone Givens (born November 27, 1964) is an American film, television, and stage actress.

Early life

Givens was born in New York Citymarker, the daughter of Ruth Roper (née Newby) and Reuben Givens. Givens's mother and father divorced when she was two. She and her sister Stephanie were raised by their mother in New Rochelle, New Yorkmarker. Givens graduated in 1980 from New Rochelle Academy (closed 1987). Still at 15, she enrolled at Sarah Lawrence Collegemarker. She later claimed she studied various medical courses at Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, although Harvard's registrar office only confirmed that she took one class 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 1992's Boomerang. In 1994, she posed nude for Playboy magazine and was ranked #88 on Empire Magazine 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. The series ended its run in 1998.

In January 2000, Givens appeared in a cameo in music video "He Wasn't Man Enough" by Toni Braxton, 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.

In 2008, Givens had a recurring role portraying a fictionalized version of herself on the CW comdey-drama The Game. She has also had a recurring role on the TBS show Tyler Perry's House of Payne, and she has a guest role on USA Network's Burn Notice.

In addition to television and film roles, Givens has also 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.

Personal life

Givens dated her Head of the Class co-star Brian Robbins, comedian and actor Eddie Murphy, and a pre-fame Brad Pitt. She briefly dated Howard Stern from 1999-2000.

After meeting in March 1987, she married boxer Mike Tyson on February 7, 1988. Tyson was then estimated to have $USD $50 million, and he and Givens did not make a prenuptial agreement. During their marriage, Givens and her mother bought a $4.5 million dollar mansion in the affluent suburb of Bernardsville, New Jerseymarker. After a miscarriage in May 1988, the marriage began to fall apart. She 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 didn’t 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, and she has a second son with ex-boyfriend Murphy Jensen. She married her tennis instructor, Svetozar Marinkovic, in 1997. She and Marinkovic separated the same day that they married. Givens filed for divorce months later.


In January 2004, Givens critically injured an 89-year-old pedestrian, Maria Antonia Alcover, while driving her SUV through a Miami 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.

Tax problems

A May 7, 2009 article in Forbes magazine reports that the U.S. government is suing Givens over allegations of $292,000 of unpaid federal taxes, interest and penalties. The government has asked a federal court in Florida for a judgment against her on 39 assessments covering eight years.


Year Film Role Notes
1978 The Wiz Extra Uncredited
1991 A Rage in Harlem Imabelle
1992 Boomerang Jacqueline "Jackie/Jack" Broyer
1994 Foreign Student April
Blankman Kimberly Jonz
1995 Dangerous Intentions Kaye Ferrar
1998 Secrets
2000 Everything's Jake Publisher
2001 The Elite Ashe
2002 Book of Love Iyanna
Antibody Dr. Rachel Saverini Direct-to-video release
2003 Head of State Kim
A Good Night to Die Dana
Love Chronicles Monifa Burly
2005 Flip the Script Rain Jones
2006 Restraining Order Diane McNeil
2008 Queen of Media Wendy Williams
The Family That Preys Abby
Little Hercules in 3-D Dana
Year Title Role Notes
1985 The Cosby Show Susanne Episode: "Theo and the Older Woman"
1986 Diff'rent Strokes Ann 1 episode
Beverly Hills Madam April Baxter Television movie
Philip Marlowe, Private Eye Token Ware 1 episode
1986-91 Head of the Class Darlene Merriman 114 episodes
1989 The Penthouse Dinah St. Clair Television movie
The Women of Brewster Place Kiswana Miniseries
1992 Angel Street Det. Anita King Television movie
Angel Street Det. Anita King Unknown episodes
1995 Me and the Boys Nina 2 episodes
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air Denise Episode: "Cold Feet, Hot Body"
Courthouse Suzanne Graham 11 episodes
1996 In the House Alex 3 episodes
A Face to Die For Claudia Television movie
1996-98 Sparks Wilma Cuthbert 40 episodes
1997 Moesha Ladonna Episode: "Strike a Pose"
1999 The Love Boat: The Next Wave Dana Chase 1 episode
Michael Jordan: An American Hero Juanita Vanoy/Juanita Jordan Television movie
Cosby Ms. Malone 2 episodes
2000 The Expendables Randy Television movie
Chicken Soup for the Soul Counselor 1 episode
DAG Jennifer 1 episode
2001 Spinning Out of Control Erin Television movie
2003 Hollywood Wives: The New Generation Kyndra Television movie
2003-04 One on One Sheila 2 episodes
2005 Captive Hearts Jade Marlo Television movie
2008 House of Payne Tanya 3 episodes
Burn Notice Kandi Episode: "Scatter Point"
The Game Herself 3 episodes

Awards and nominations

Year Award Result Category Film
1991 ShoWest Convention, USA Won Female Star of Tomorrow
2004 Black Reel Awards Nominated Television: Best Supporting Actress Hollywood Wives: The New Generation


  • Grace Will Lead Me Home by Robin Givens (June 5, 2007) ISBN 1-401-35246-4


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