John Amos, Ralph Carter, BernNadette Stanis, Johnny Brown,
and Ja'net DuBois at Esther Rolle's funeral wake in November 1998.
Good Times - Some Show Facts
Good Times originally aired on the CBS network. Good Times was a spin off of a spin off. All In The Family is where the idea for "Maude" came from.
Florida Evans had appeared in Maude along with John Amos. She was a maid, and he was her husband. Good Times was a spin off from Maude, that was based on an original concept created by Eric Monte, Eric Monte also created the 1970's TV show What's Happening, and George and Louise of The Jeffersons He also wrote the hit movie Cooley High.
The Good Times television premiere was in February of 1974. It ran for five seasons until 1979. In Fall of 1974 Good Times was so popular that it was moved to Tuesday's. By then it was in the top ten of the Nielsen ratings. Here is a 1974 TV Guide cover.
The real life Jimmie Walker was born on June 25, 1947 in the South Bronx, New York. As a child he was surrounded by burned out buildings, poverty, neglect, and disrepair. But to young Jimmie, this was nothing more than the neighborhood.
During the 1970's Jimmie hired several out of work stand up comics to write for Good Times. Among them were Jay Leno and David Letterman.
In the recent past Jimmie has worked at a Radio Station as a syndicated talk-show host. In 1996 he guest starred on an In The House episode with LL Cool J.
In 1998 Jimmie was featured in a magazine advertisement for Altoids mints.
Emmy Award winning Esther Rolle played the part of Mrs. Florida Evans, the matriarch of the Evans family.
In 1977 she boycotted the show because of the increasingly negative stereotypical roles that Jimmie Walker was being cast in. She returned in 1978, after writers agreed to tone down J.J's buffoonery, but by then it was too late. The show had already dropped to #53 in the Nielson ratings, and was cancelled in 1979.
Esther Rolle's other screen work includes a role in Driving Ms. Daisy. She received three NAACP Image Awards.
Esther Rolle was a spokesperson for The National Council of Negro Women’s Black Family Reunion. She passed away on November 17, 1998. Here is a CNN Newswire Article. Her final screen work was a role in Maya Angelou's Down in The Delta.
BernNadette Stanis is the woman who played Thelma. She has been busy raising a family, and helping produce off-Broadway plays with her husband.
Bern was also featured in a hip-hop music video in 1998 by Camp Lo with Jimmie Walker. You may have seen it on the BET Network.
James Senior, the character, grew up on a farm in Mississippi. He also served in the Korean war. "Baby they had better livin' conditions than this in Korea!"
In the Fall of 1976, John Amos quit the show. Evidently, in 1975 he had expessed unhappiness with his contract agreement. It was primarily about money, and this dispute was quickly settled. Then in early 1976 an article appeared in Ebony magazine.
In the magazine article it was revealed that both John Amos and Esther Rolle had complained about the show, it's producers, and it's writers. Norman Lear was so upset by the article that in September of 1976 he released John Amos from his Good Times contract agreement. John's character, James, dies in a car accident while job-hunting in Mississippi. The show continues on another three seasons without him.
John Amos later said that he didn't feel he was being used enough on the show. He may also have had good reasons to move on because of having been offered a role in Alex Haley's Roots.
On the set John Amos sipped real Schlitz beer. The can was wrapped in a phony paper label. In one scene Amos trys to lift the can of beer and the paper sleeve slips up, revealing the real Brand label underneath ...Schlitz!
In 1963, when Florida was pregnant with Michael, the family lived in a cold water flat. The only bathroom was in the hall, and shared by the whole building. The Evans' waited two years at that cold-water flat before they got into the Cabrini Green Projects.
The Evans' family lives on the 17th floor. When the building's elevator was out-of-order everybody had to use the stairway.
The Paintings - Ernie Barnes
Ernie Barnes is, perhaps, the most powerful African-American artist of the twentieth century. He is the real creator of J.J's paintings.
Here is an example of Mr. Barnes' work, entitled Singin' Sistahs. This particular painting was never actually seen on Good Times, but others of a similar style were regularly featured on the show. You may learn more at the Ernie Barnes Website.
The painting J.J displays on the left was a gift he created for Michael's birthday. Michael had dreams of becoming an Attorney, and a Supreme Court Judge.
Marilyn and Alan Bergman wrote the lyrics for the Good Times opening and closing theme songs. David Grusin composed the music, and also composed the music for Maude, Baretta, and St. Elsewhere. You may listen to and read the Good Time theme song below.
Janet Jackson was the baby in a superstar family. Her show biz career started in The Jackson Five's Vegas act. But it was TV that brought young Janet to America's attention.
Growing up from little Penny on Good Times, to the girl next door on Diff'rent Strokes, to the dancing high schooler on Fame, Janet literally grew up on TV.
Janet says her very first kiss ever was from Ralph Carter. "I was 12 years old, and it was our last episode of Good Times. He wanted to say good-bye. So he called me in the room, and he gave me a kiss on my lips."
Ralph Carter played the part of Michael Evans. Ralph was born on May 30, 1961 in New York City.He has done much work since Good Times starring in and working on Broadway and off-Broadway plays
Don't miss Jimmie Walker in two of his funniest post Good Times movies. The first, Let's Do It Again, co-starring Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier, is about the Highjinks of two con-men who scheme new ways to fix boxing matches, one of which is hypnotism. Jimmie is the boxer.
The other, Going Bananas, is about a talking chimp, a safari tour guide (Dom Deluise), and a young boy (David Mendenhall) who lead Jimmie Walker on a hilarious wild-goose-chase across the African desert in a quest to save this unique chimpanzee from those who would exploit it.