Mike Evans was only 21 and still in acting school when he landed the part of Lionel on All in the Family in 1971. He continued to play the character on the spin-off series The Jeffersons, but left after the first season to co-create Good Times. (Good Times also had its genesis in All in the Family -- Good Times matriarch Florida Evans worked as Maude Findlay's maid on Maude; Maude was Edith Bunker's cousin.)
Evans returned to The Jeffersons in 1979. He also made numerous appearances on Match Game in the early 1970s and acted in a segment of Love, American Style. He sang the song "El Condor Pasa" in the TV movie The Voyage of Yes, and was also in the famous miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man.
Evans made his last TV appearance in a 2000 episode of Walker, Texas Ranger, and later invested in real estate in Southern California's Inland Empire. He died of throat cancer Dec. 14, 2006 at his mother's home in Twentynine Palms, Calif. He was 57.
Lionel Jefferson is mild-mannered and extremely sharp-witted; most of his witty, snappy remarks are lost on Archie. Like his friend Mike Stivic, Lionel is an intelligent college student with a bright future ahead of him. He lives next door to the Bunkers with his parents, George and Louise.
Lionel's father is very proud of him, but can't understand his romantic involvement with Jenny Willis. Lionel has moved on from his father's hang-ups about race, creed and color. Still, he has fire inside, especially when he makes a stand at his college. Lionel is the apple of his mother's eye and has a bright future ahead. Upon graduating, Lionel becomes an electrical engineer for a large electronics firm. Eventually, Lionel marries Jenny and they have a daughter.