10 Items You Might Not Know About Superior Instances

Very good Occasions was a spinoff of a spinoff that premiered on CBS in February 1974. It was the very first primetime sitcom showcasing an African American loved ones, and all through its six-period operate it tackled such severe troubles as gang violence, unemployment, discrimination, poverty, and boy or girl abuse. But irrespective of the from time to time weighty matter make any difference, there was generally laughter and love amid the shut-knit Evans loved ones. Were being factors just as cozy backstage among the performers? Not often …

Michael Evans, who performed Lionel Jefferson on All in the Family at the time, had listened to by means of the grapevine that CBS was intrigued in developing a sequence about a black loved ones. He approached Norman Lear and questioned if he could consider his hand at pitching a script. Lear gave him the Ok, and Evans collaborated with his close friend, Eric Monte. They wrote a script that featured the Black relatives: father John, mom Mattie, and youngsters J.J., Thelma, and Michael. Lear liked the concept, but he needed the household to be fatherless. Monte and Evans objected to the change, and the challenge was set on the back again burner.

The All in the Family members spinoff Maude grew to become a rankings strike in 1972 and Lear smelled a further spinoff in the producing. He resolved that Esther Rolle, who performed Maude’s housekeeper Florida Evans, could have a sequence on her possess. So The Black Spouse and children pilot script was resurrected and made use of as the basis for the new series. But Lear was nonetheless adamant that there really should be no father in the picture. Rolle stood her floor and refused to indicator on for the project unless the “James” character was provided.

“I could not compound the lie that Black fathers never treatment about their children,” Rolle later on stated of her stance. Producers agreed to her demand and hired John Amos, who’d appeared at times on Maude as Florida’s partner (while his title was “Henry” at the time) to proceed his part.


The upcoming actor to be employed right after Rolle and Amos was 12-yr-aged Ralph Carter, who was solid as the youngest son, Michael. Michael was nicknamed the “Militant Midget” by James simply because of his outspoken views on anything at all to do with politics or civil legal rights. Producers thought that Carter would be the “breakout” character of the demonstrate, not only for the reason that he was sweet and appeared younger than his age, but also simply because it would be humorous still poignant that a child would be espousing these zealous viewpoints. Carter was showing on Broadway in the musical Raisin when he caught the eye of Great Times’s producers, and Lear purchased out the remainder of his deal to permit him to surface on the series (as evidenced in the ending credits of the to start with year).


Jimmie Walker was a stand-up comic who experienced been headlining comedy golf equipment throughout the country for many years when he landed a work at CBS as the warm-up act for the quick-lived James Coco sitcom Calucci’s Division. It was there that Lear happened to capture his act and made available him the function of J.J. He experienced no acting or tv practical experience, but he had impeccable comic timing and an expressive, fluid experience, so he immediately became an audience preferred. And the much more laughs he acquired, the more jokes the writers threw his way, which didn’t endear him to Rolle or Amos.

Although Amos admired Walker as a comic, he was disappointed about the quantity of consideration the J.J. character was acquiring vs . the other two little ones. “Michael aspired to be a Supreme Court docket Justice and Thelma needed to be a surgeon, but all the emphasis was on J.J. and his chicken hat and him expressing ‘dyn-o-mite’ each and every 3rd webpage,” he said in an job interview with the American Archive of Television. He also admitted that he was not the most diplomatic individual in people times and that the producers “got fatigued of possessing their lives threatened around jokes.”

Amos apparently complained 1 also numerous occasions, due to the fact he obtained a cell phone phone from Lear advising him that he was regarded as to be a “disruptive element” and his products and services have been no lengthier essential. To demonstrate the absence of Amos, the initially episode of period 4 showed Florida obtaining a telegram informing her that James had been killed in an automobile incident when en route to Mississippi, in which he’d just landed a promising new task.

Rolle was likewise disenchanted with the way J.J. was evolving. “He’s 18 and he does not operate,” she told Ebony Journal in September 1975 of Walker’s character. “He simply cannot study and generate. He doesn’t consider. The display did not start out to be that.”

Fed up with the turn the series experienced taken, in the midst of year 4 she demanded a raise together with improved scripts. She also voiced her dismay that the writers had offered Florida a new love curiosity (Moses Gunn as Carl Dixon) so promptly just after James’s loss of life. The producers responded by inquiring the writers if they could publish scripts that didn’t involve the mom. So Florida married Carl and the pair moved to Arizona, where the weather conditions would be improved for his freshly diagnosed lung cancer. Willona Woods, the gossipy neighbor and family close friend, was suddenly promoted to the new maternal figure for the Evans children.

In an effort to rework Willona from sassy swinging single to a plausible surrogate mother, the writers resolved she required a little one of her individual. They forewent the traditional 9-thirty day period gestation time period and rather extra Janet Jackson as Penny Gordon, an abused little one who is deserted by her start mom and adopted by Willona. Jackson was 11 several years previous when she started off on the demonstrate and has since said that she was sad throughout her full run. She’d started maturing at an early age, so the wardrobe division had to bind her upper body with strips of gauze in advance of each taping.


Walker was the breakout star of the demonstrate, but both of those Carter and BernNadette Stanis (who performed Thelma Evans) realized bona fide teenager idol status many thanks to their exposure on Good Occasions, and were being in constant levels of competition with the Jackson brothers and Diana Ross in the Hollywood gossip columns. Carter launched a effective singing occupation all through his spare time, and Stanis became a poster favourite and normal journal go over woman.


Walker didn’t ignore his friends when his television occupation took off in reality, he employed various of them who have been nevertheless battling comedians to publish product for his stand-up act. Two of all those friends have been Jay Leno and David Letterman. Walker finagled a little visitor place on Excellent Instances for Leno during season a few. Several years afterwards, right after Excellent Instances had been cancelled and Letterman was the star of Late Night, Walker could however phone Letterman at any time and get a spot on his present. “Obviously David Letterman’s a key star,” Walker informed The A.V. Club. “He’s got billions of pounds, what does he will need Jimmie Walker for? But David instructed me, ‘You’re my buddy, I will usually have you on my exhibit, ‘til the previous breath in my human body goes.'”

Following the death of James Evans and Florida’s unexpected shift to Arizona, viewers interest in Very good Moments started to wane. Inevitably, producers determined that Amos and Rolle might have been right—that dropping the “family” element of the series may perhaps have shed them some viewers as very well. So they went back to Rolle and requested her to return she repeated her preceding requirements—more revenue and much better scripts—and the producers agreed. Regretably, it was a bit much too late. The sequence ended with its sixth season.

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