Born Dec. 27, 1939 in Newark, NJ, John Amos is a pioneer in TV history. He starred as weatherman Gordy Howard for three seasons on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, one of the first major co-starring roles played by a black actor on a non-black sitcom. After leaving the show, Amos landed the role of James Evans, the struggling but loving husband on Good Times.
The show was immensely popular, and Amos enjoyed great success playing the Evans family patriarch, one of very few positive role models on TV for young black men at the time. Unfortunately, Amos grew increasingly dissatisfied with the sitcom when ongoing behind-the-scenes battles over the direction of the show occurred between cast and producers. After two seasons, Amos quit the show over personal and professional complaints, suggesting the sitcom's focus on the antics of the J.J. character was taking the show off-course, and was not a positive portrayal of black life.
Though producers decided to kill off his character, Amos' career was hardly dead. In 1977, Amos was a part of another historical event: He started as the adult Kunta Kinte in Alex Haley's critically acclaimed epic Roots. In 1994, Amos had another shot at starring in his own sitcom with 704 Hauser. The series was a reverse version of All in the Family and took place in Archie Bunker's old house. Unfortunately for Amos, audiences were not interested in seeing a '90s version of All in the Family and it was canceled after only a few episodes. Amos is still going strong as an actor, and has appeared in many movies and TV series, including Coming to America, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, In the House, The District and The West Wing.
James Evans is the patriarch of the Evans family. Despite being a veteran of the Korean War; deeply committed to doing whatever it takes to provide for his family; hard-working and honest, James can only seem to find poor-paying manual-labor jobs because of his lack of a formal education. The difficulties he endures while keeping a roof over his family's head leave him dissatisfied with many government policies. Still he maintains his dignity and is a pillar of strength, even while struggling to raise his family amid the poverty of the Chicago projects. With his loving wife Florida by his side, James makes it a priority to teach responsibility and values to their three kids. Though his children are his pride and joy, they are also often the roots of his angst. Between seeking employment, paying the rent and keeping food on the table, James manages to find the time to interrogate Thelma's dates, tune in to Michael's political arguments and keep a close watch on J.J.'s increasingly shady antics.