Whatever Happened To: The Cast Of "Good Times"

Keeping their head above water, making a wave when they can...Good Times!!!

Good Times, was the CBS sitcom about the Evans family, television's first African American two-parent family that ran from February 8, 1974, to August 1, 1979.  The series was a spin-off from Maude, which in turn was a spin-off from All in the Family.  Remember Florida Evans was originally Maude Findlay's maid until, in the spring of 1974, she got a show of her own. 

Florida and James Evans lived with their three children in a high-rise ghetto on the South Side of Chicago. J.J. was the oldest (17 when the series started), Thelma was a year younger than he, and Michael was 10. Trying to make ends meet on the erratic income provided by James, who was always in and out of jobs, made life difficult, but there was plenty of love in the family. 

J.J. was an accomplished amateur painter who, though going to trade school, was always looking for some get-rich-quick scheme that would help get him and his family out of the ghetto. “His catchphrase “Dy-No-Mite” became very popular in the mid-1970s. 

Florida's neighbor and best friend was Willona Woods. No matter what hardships they were going through, they all considered these years "good times."

At the start of the 4th season, there was a major change in the cast. James had found a job working as a partner in a garage in Mississippi when he was killed in an auto accident. The entire family, which had been planning to move to their new home and start a new life, was now fatherless. 

Who can ever forget Floridas infamous DAMN DAMN DAMN! Behind the scenes, John Amos was fired from the series due to disagreements with series producer Norman Lear, and his cast members didn't know about his departure until they read the script at the table read.

J.J. became the man of the house and was even more determined to find a way out of the ghetto for his family, whether by means that were entirely legal or not. Some of his schemes became decidedly shady. 

Meanwhile, Florida found a new man in her life, Carl Dixon, the owner of a small appliance repair shop and the two married (though the wedding was not seen). 

Just like Amos,  Esther Rolle had become disenchanted with the role model for young blacks provided by J.J.'s “jive-talking,” woman-chasing, less-than-honest character and, on the pretense of illness, left the series prior to the start of the 5th season. In the storyline, Carl had developed lung cancer and he and Florida were living in a Southern location that was better for his health. 

Friend and neighbor Willona became a surrogate mother to the Evans household and little Penny Gordon (Janet Jackson) a victim of child abuse, became Willona's adopted daughter. 

Before taping of season six began, CBS and the show's producers decided that they had to do "something drastic" to increase viewership so they begged Esther Rolle to return to the cast (sans Carl or any explanation of what had happened to him), with the promise that J.J. would be a more respectable character. She arrived just in time to watch daughter Thelma marry football star, Keith Anderson. 

It was a little bit too late. With falling ratings, Good Times was coming to an end and it was pulled from the CBS schedule. It returned a few months later for its last original episode (there were no reruns aired in the last season).

In the end, Keith got his big contract as a running back and moved into his own place with Thelma, who was expecting their first child; J.J. sold the comic strip he had developed to a syndicate for a healthy advance; and neighbor Willona got promoted to head buyer at the clothing boutique where she worked...and Penny went back to being Janet Jackson...ahh GOOD TIMES!!!

So what happened to the original cast?

They kept their heads above water.

We loved Good Times...surprised they have not brought this show back on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon etc...although I guess they had tried.  To GOOD TIMES...we ❤️you...the show was Dy-No-Mite!!!
Whatever Happened To: The Cast Of "Good Times" Whatever Happened To: The Cast Of "Good Times" Reviewed by #IheartHollywood on March 16, 2019 Rating: 5

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