Friday, February 24, 2023

Things You May Not Have Realized About Good Times

For years, there's been an online debate about the cast and storylines of this iconic sitcom from the 70s. Where did Carl go (or better, what was his purpose)? What did that kitchen door lead to? Were Willona and James more than friends? Many of us probably will never know the truth behind the scenes or why creator Norman Lear made these interesting choices.

You're probably like me where in the past few years you've probably had time to binge in front of the set and ponder a few things. I did when I was on bed rest a few years ago. While it seems like a Good Times series remake is out of the question for now, we can have a little fun with these facts about the popular show.

  • The J.J. Evans character was loaded with charm and talent, making him a somewhat unlikely match for a bevy of beauties during its run from 1974 to 1979. Have you ever noticed that women who were overly affectionate are still working actors today? Yup, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Debbie Allen, Debbie Morgan, Tina Andrews, and the late Rosalind Cash had success in front of and/or behind the camera.

But what about the others? Let's see what they're up to.

Beverleigh Banfield who played the original T. C. (Bookman's assistant), is still active in the business. After taking guest starring roles in the 80s and 90s, her last acting credit was as a voiceover artist in the cartoon Static Shock. Since the 2010s, she's parlayed her talents as a producer and director. She's alive and well at 69 years young.

Rosanne Katon was in an early episode where her snob parents wanted their teen daughter to date someone who wasn't from the PJs. From the mid-70s through the 80s, Katon starred in a number of guest roles and was also known for being one of the first Black Playmates.  She quietly retired from acting by the early 90s to focus on family and humanitarian efforts.

Renee Brown didn't play a love interest but a painting student of J.J.'s who quietly forced him to eat a big piece of humble pie during a local art competition. After starring in a number of 70s sitcoms and light crime dramas like James at 16, Brown retired from acting in the early 80s to focus on family.

Ta Tanisha played one of J.J.'s early girlfriends that didn't exactly have his back yet he was so whipped. Anyway, her career goes back to 1969 when she guest-starred on an episode of Mod Squad and remained pretty busy from the 70s to the 80s with sporadic appearances. She also made an uncredited appearance on Alex Martin's (daughter of Whoopi Golberg) reality show in the 00s.

Rolanda Douglas is one of the few actresses who played different roles on the sitcom. First, it was the snobbish girlfriend who was ready to go and cared less about a burned Penny Gordon. Then she was the second T. C. who actually did make a move on the lean, chocolate, loving machine after undergoing a makeover. Her acting credits range from 1976 to 1987.

Brenda Sykes was J.J.'s chain-smoking date who proved an important lesson about the dangers of tobacco products. Besides an extensive list of acting credits for the small and silver screen, she's also known as the former wife of musician and poet Gil Scott Heron. This 1978 role was also her last, according to IMDB.

Fay Hauser played the married woman who wanted to have her cake and eat it at J.J.'s expense (or his developing ulcer). At 74 years young, she's still booked and busy with recent credits including Glee and Shameless. Hauser also has recent producer and director credits to round out her long list of roles that go back to 1978.

  • While it's nice to see the majority of these actresses are healthy and well, here are some other things that may have been overlooked.
Dap Sugar Willie (above), who played Lootin Lenny, got his start on the comedy circuit. Like Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor, he sold albums of his performances and this was also a promotional tool that landed him roles in a number of 1970s sitcoms. Sadly, he died in 1994 at the age of 55.

Penny (played by Miss Jackson, of course) is actually named Millicent, which is a clever but odd name choice for a Black child of the 70s.

If you think Bernadette Stanis (Thelma) has disappeared from the silver screen, you're mistaken. Since the show's end in 1979, she's made numerous appearances on sitcoms, done voiceovers, and also attended the prestigious Julliard to upgrade her thespian skills. Her last credit was on TV One's Family Business series which stars Ernie Hudson.

Well, it's good to be back y'all and I hope you can stop by every few weeks where we deliver something different.