Jimmie Walker: On TV's Classic "Good Times," John Amos, Janet Jackson, and More

Herbie J Pilato

Photo byWealthyGenius.com

As ILoveOldSchoolMusic.com documented in 2018, "Back in the day when Good Times dominated television, many fans probably thought the ‘Evans family’ dynamic was pretty typical. On camera, it was hard to tell they weren’t really a close-knit family, but behind closed doors, the actors’ dynamic was anything but typical. In fact, for the first time ever, Good Times star, Jimmie Walker a.k.a. 'J.J.', is giving fans the low-down on what it was REALLY like when the cameras weren’t rollin.’ During a recent tell-all interview, he spilled all the beans."

According to Walker, and as ILoveOldSchoolMusic continued to relay, "the vast majority of the cast barely interacted with each other at all when they weren’t filming. In fact, the former J.J. actor admitted he doesn’t remember ever having an actual conversation with his co-star, Esther Rolle. Jimmie revealed John Amos, the ‘Evans family’ patriarch, was very much like Esther." 

“I will honestly say, I don’t remember ever speaking a word to Ester the whole time she was there,” recalled Walker.

Although Walker and Amos enjoy an improved association today, the former acknowledged that all was not so wonderful when Good Times was at the top of the ratings during its original run in the 1970s.

Per ILoveOldSchoolMusic.com, Walker gave a crisp picture of the relationship with his co-stars:

“I think the same basically goes for John. We talk more now but very, very little. We were never friends and never talked. If you said at that time ‘Call Esther and ask her about [something],’ I wouldn’t even have her number,” he added.” I couldn’t have called John. I wouldn’t have had his number…We never spoke to each other. Only on the set…We never did anything together.”

As ILoveOldSchoolMusic.com continued to report, Walker addressed Good Time's fall from grace. Apparently, Walker believed the show could have continued for more seasons had his co-stars taken a different approach. “I think that they killed the goose that laid the golden egg,” he stated. “These people, anytime you said anything, they get crazy, they get upset. I said ‘They don’t get it, man.’”

One actor who apparently caused duress behind the camera was Amos. As ILoveOldSchoolMusic.com continued to chronicle, "To Jimmie, it seemed as if Good Times wasn’t good enough for the rising actor. Oftentimes, his attitude led to creative differences between him and the production staff."

“John is a good actor, a solid actor,” said Walker. “And I think it was just this show, this situation, that was against anything and everything he believed in. He had never been a problem on any other show.”

"After three seasons," ILoveOldSchoolMusic relayed, "Amos was fired from Good Times and despite his alleged beliefs about the show, the show ultimately went on without him."

The website also noted Walker's thoughts Good Times co-star Bernadette Stanis, who played JJ’s sister, Thelma Evans on the sitcom. "While Walker believed all of his former castmates were talented in their own right," ILoveOldSchoolMusic conveyed, "he believed there was something special about Bernadette. However, he thinks she missed many opportunities to capitalize on her image. Jimmie revealed he was shot down completely when he made suggestions."

“Norman Lear and John Amos came to me and said ‘How dare you put our girl in a position like that?” Walker remembered. “She’s not a h-e. You keep your illicit mind off of that and never bring that up again…They came down so hard on me.”

"As Good Times progressed," ILoveOldSchoolMusic continued to assess, "more recurring actors were added to the cast. Ben Powers and a young Janet Jackson were two talented actors who became staples on the show as John Amos and Esther Rolle’s characters were gradually phased out. While Janet’s role as Penny did solidify her career as a child actor, Jimmie also revealed the low-down on that. Apparently, the writers created the role of Penny after ongoing complaints from Ja’Net DuBois.

"The talented actress, who portrayed “Willona” on the show, allegedly complained about her character not having enough time in the spotlight. After relentless complaining, the additional role was created to help develop a storyline for DuBois. Jimmie believes Janet Jackson would have never been part of the show if it weren’t for ongoing complaints."

“Without Ja’Net, I don’t think Janet Jackson would’ve ever gotten on our show,” concluded Walker. “Because she laid out her side of whatever so much, that the writer said ‘We’ve got to do something to get her off our backs.’”

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including RETRO ACTIVE TELEVISION, THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

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