Skip to content

See Thelma From "Good Times" Today at 67

Actor Bern Nadette Stanis made history with her role on the sitcom.

Sitcom spinoffs were all the rage during the 1970s, but one show took it a step further and became the first to be a double spinoff. Good Times was a spinoff of Maude, which was a spinoff of All in the Family. The series was centered around a poor Black family in Chicago, with each episode depicting both the dramatic issues in their lives and the hijinks of the family's three children, J.J., Thelma, and Michael. Thelma was played by Bern Nadette Stanis during the series' six seasons from 1974 to 1979, and the character was the first Black teenage girl on a sitcom.

Stanis remains best known for playing Thelma, but she has continued acting over the years, including appearances on several popular TV shows. She's also gone on to write books and has reunited with some of her co-stars. Read on to find out more about Stanis' post-Good Times life.

RELATED: Danielle Brisebois Played Stephanie on All in the Family. See Her Now at 52.

Stanis continued acting after Good Times.

Stanis, who studied at Juilliard, continued acting after Good Times. She appeared on episodes of The Love Boat, The Cosby Show, and The Parent 'Hood, among others. Most recently, she was in the movies No Regrets and The Big Shot.

She's written four books.

BernNadette Stanis posing with one of her book during a book tour in 2010
Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Stanis has published a book of poetry (For Men Only), two self-help books (Situations 101 Relationships and Situations 101 Finances), and a book about helping her late mother through her Alzheimer's diagnosis (The Last Night: A Caregiver's Journey Through Transition and Beyond). "I started out writing poetry—well, I still write poetry. I love poetry," Stanis said during a September 2021 interview with SideWalks Entertainment. In the interview she also shared that in addition to writing, she also enjoys painting as a hobby.

She has two daughters.

Stanis has two children, Dior and Brittany, and a granddaughter, who she often posts about on social media. Earlier this year, she posted photos on Instagram of herself with her daughters and wrote in the caption, "Me and my girls out to dinner…. Just hanging out together. I am so glad they grew up to become two of my best friends."

For more celebrity news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

She's still friends with her castmates.

"Good Times" cast members Ralph Carter, Ja'Net DuBois, Jimmie Walker, BernNadette Stanis, and Johnny Brown at the 2020 Hollywood Show
Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Stanis remains close with her Good Times co-stars, including Jimmie Walker, who played J.J., and Ralph Carter, who played Michael.  "We're like real brother and sister," she told GetTV. She also reunited with her co-stars during the Live In Front Of A Studio Audience: All In The Family and Good Times special in 2019, which featured Stanis, Walker, John Amos, who played patriarch James, and Ja'Net DuBois, who played neighbor Willona.

She's proud of Thelma's legacy.

In the interview with GetTV, Stanis explained that people still tell her how much Thelma meant to them. "It didn't really hit me until a couple years later," she said of realizing she was playing the first Black teen girl on a sitcom. "Growing up, my idol was Marlo Thomas. And so, I wanted to be her. I didn't see her as white. I didn't see her as anything but a young, aggressive, beautiful woman. To this day, all kinds of ladies come up to me and say, 'You were my idol.' It's not the color, it's the essence of the character."

RELATED: See Marlo Thomas From That Girl Today at 84.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
Filed Under