The jaw-dropping revelation was made during a conversation between Roberts and TV host Gayle King, ahead of the Erin Brockovich star’s 55th birthday.
Gayle asked her guest who paid the hospital bill when she was born, prompting an intake of breath from Roberts before she smilingly remarked: “OK, her research is very good.”
\u201cToday is Julia Roberts birthday! 55 years ago MLK and Coretta Scott King paid for her parents hospital bill after she was born. Can\u2019t stop thinking about this since I read it. Here she is talking about it with @GayleKing\u201d
The Oscar-winner then explained that her parents had been running a theatre school in Atlanta when they befriended the Kings.
“One day Coretta 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,” Roberts said in a nod to segregation, which blighted the US in the 20th century.
“My mom was like, ‘Sure, come on over,’ and so they all just became friends, and they helped us out of a jam,” she added, modestly ending her astonishing anecdote.
Gayle responded by hailing the Roberts’ act as “extraordinary” because people didn’t see “little black children interacting with little white kids in acting school” at the time.
A clip of their moving exchange was widely shared on Twitter, with viewers voicing their joy at the unexpected link between such iconic figures.
\u201cHoly moly! So cool! \nAnd that's how humans should act and care for each other.\u201d
— RoseMarie Hamilton \ud83c\udf0a \ud83d\udd4a\ufe0f\ud83d\udc08\ud83d\ude18\ud83c\udf83\ud83d\udc7b (@RoseMarie Hamilton \ud83c\udf0a \ud83d\udd4a\ufe0f\ud83d\udc08\ud83d\ude18\ud83c\udf83\ud83d\udc7b)
\u201cThe fact that Julia Roberts has one of the ULTIMATE Civil Rights flexes, but never talked about this throughout her career, says everything about her character. \n\nI learned this about her last year and was surprised as well!\u201d