John Amos Played James Evans, Sr. on "Good Times." See Him Now at 82.
The sitcom star was unceremoniously fired after pushing back on the direction of the show.
From 1974 to 1976, John Amos touched millions of lives as the iconic patriarch James Evans, Sr., on Good Times—until he was unceremoniously dumped from the cast midway through its run. But while the show would air for an additional three years without Amos, his career would hardly stop there. Read on to find out what he did next, and where the legendary actor is now at age 82.
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He was kicked off the show after a conflict with producers.
As Good Times grew in popularity, it increasingly focused on the the "dy-no-mite"-spouting elder son J.J., portrayed by comedian Jimmie Walker. According to a 1975 Ebony article, co-stars Amos and Esther Rolle (Florida) were vocally opposed to the negative characterization of Black youth they felt J.J. represented, as well as other scenarios and characterizations on the show.
At the beginning of the third season, Amos delayed taping for a week as part of a contract dispute a source described to the magazine as being about "more than money," but also about his objections to the show reinforcing "how Black men have been treated in this country all along." The star was not brought back for the fourth season, and the character of James Evans, Sr. was sent off to a new job in Mississippi before being killed off in a car accident. (Rolle, who had been adamant that the show feature a two-parent family, would play a widowed Florida for one season before also leaving.)
In a 2017 interview with Sway in the Morning, Amos minced no words as he recounted leaving the series stating, "I left because I was told that my services were no longer needed because I had become a 'disruptive element.'"
His acting career never slowed.
Weeks after Season 4 of Good Times began airing without him, Amos appeared as the older Kunta Kinte in the record-setting ABC miniseries, Roots. He continued to work in both TV and film, returning to his former role as The Mary Tyler Moore Show's weatherman, Gordy, for the show's final season and later taking on more notable roles, including Seth in Beastmaster, Cleo McDowell in Coming to America, antagonist Major Grant in Die Hard 2, Percy Fitzwallace in The West Wing, and Ed in Two and a Half Men.
Now in his eighties, Amos continues to act, and recently reprised his role as fast food chain owner and father-in-law to Eddie Murphy's Prince Akeem in 2019's Coming 2 America. He also appeared in an episode of The Righteous Gemstones and the movie Block Party.
"You don't retire in my position," he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2017. "You just fail to show up to work one day. I still receive offers to do guest shots…I'd like to play a bad guy. I like playing bad guys. I've played a lot of lovable dads in my time."
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He later made amends with Norman Lear.
Despite what happened on Good Times, Amos and one of the show's executive producers, the legendary Norman Lear, would go on to resolve their differences and work together again creatively, something Amos attributes to "maturing" in how he expressed his beliefs.
"It was a matter of me maturing, and [understanding the impact of] the post-traumatic stress syndrome I'd suffered as a result of playing football and boxing," Amos told Vulture in 2015. "Once I'd matured, I'd realized the mistakes I'd made in addressing my grievances about scripts. Everything to me at the time was confrontational. I was younger, I was angry, I was mad at the world. I wanted to right every wrong with every line."
Amos appeared in pilots for some of Lear's later shows, including 1994's 704 Hauser Street, again playing a hardworking patriarch who moves into the house previously inhabited by All in the Family's Archie Bunker. In 2019, the actor also made a surprise appearance during a live broadcast event recreating a Good Times episode for ABC's Live in Front of a Studio Audience series.
He became an author.
In 2017, Amos released his first children's book, A World Without Color, a children's tale of a young boy living in the gray, mundane town of Bleakersville before it comes to be inhabited by characters who bring color to it. In his 2017 Sway in the Morning interview, he described his motivation for writing the empathy-themed book:
"Let's face it, our planet, or at least the United States, is being confronted with divisiveness, the likes of which we haven't seen since the '40s and another generation coming along, not knowing the history of our country, and not knowing what's being lost with this divisiveness, is unacceptable," he said.
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You can catch him on social media with his son.
Amos' first marriage to late equestrian and artist Noel J. Mickelson produced two children: daughter Shannon Amos, a writer and producer turned mindfulness instructor and shaman, and son, director and actor Kelly Christopher "K.C." Amos. While the elder Amos makes appearances on both of his children's social media accounts, K.C.'s TikTok serves up a particularly generous helping of father-son bonding alongside Amos' responses to fan questions, including what it was like to work on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and his advice to current and future generations—all appropriately hashtagged #kickinitwithpops.