For six seasons on CBS between 1974 to 1979, viewers got an inside look at the Evans family and their life together as they navigated limited financial resources and life in the slums. The show was, of course, ironically called Good Times.
It featured Esther Rolle as Florida Evans, John Amos as family patriarch James Evans, James Jr., aka J.J., played by Jimmy Walker as their oldest son, Bern Nadette Stanis as daughter Thelma Evans, and Ralph Carter as Michael Evans. Ancillary characters included Raymond Allen as Ned the Wino, Moses Gunn as Florida’s post-Henry love interest Carl Dixon, and Ja’Net Dubois as Wilona Woods.
The show was popular for its time and sparked the catchphrase “Dy-no-mite!” used numerous times by Walker. However, it wasn’t always peaches and cream on the set, with main character John Amos exiting over creative differences.
Good Times was the 17th highest-rated show the year it premiered its first 13 episodes, with a quarter of American television audiences tuning in to watch it. The first full year on the air, it shot up to seventh place. The ratings took a dip after the departure of John Amos and then considerably during its last season.
In case you’re wondering where the cast of Good Times is now, we’re about to find out.
Jimmie Walker (James “J.J.” Evans Jr.)
Walker played the oldest son on Good Times. He was a 27-year-old when he was tasked with the role and it catapulted him into the stratosphere. However, once the show ended, he struggled to keep the TV momentum going. Fortunately, Walker was a stand-up comic before his role on TV and that’s the vocation he returned to after it ended. Walker tours the country doing stand-up an average of 25-30 weeks a year, according to IMDb.
Esther Rolle (Florida Evans)
The Evans family matriarch, played by Esther Rolle, was quite the TV powerhouse in the 1970s. She played the character Florida Evans in the sitcom Maude before she moved to Good Times. After the show ended, she continued her acting career with small parts here and there in movies like Driving Miss Daisy and My Fellow Americans. She had a big part in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and won the first Emmy given for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie for Summer of My German Soldier.
Her last movie was The Mighty Quinn in 1989, starring Denzel Washington. In 2000, a movie called Train Ride came out posthumously, but it was filmed in 1998, the same year she passed away at the age of 78.
John Amos (James Evans)
Amos played a Korean War vet on Good Times who struggled to find work but was always ready to get dirty and never wanted a handout. He left the show before it ended, but his career barely stumbled. Amos left the show in 1976, according to Essence, because he was fired.
“I left because I was told that my services were no longer needed because I had become a ‘disruptive element. ‘ In other words, I didn’t have the diplomacy that I think I’ve cultivated over the last 10 or 15 years.”
He played the older Kunta Kinte in the 1977 miniseries Roots, which earned him an Emmy nomination. After that, he appeared in movies and on Broadway in a variety of well-known properties. He also appeared in 1988’s Coming To America and the sequel Coming 2 America in 2021, Die Hard 2, Dr. Dolittle 3, and Madea’s Witness Protection, to name a few. Born in 1939, he has two children and lives in Colorado.
Ralph Carter (Michael Evans)
Michael Evans was the youngest son of Florida, and while Carter’s mostly known for the role that made him famous, he has since moved on to other things. He stepped away from the spotlight and returned to his first love: the theater. Lately, he’s been working with an organization that pays tribute to Black Theater in New York City, where he currently resides. He says he’ll always be grateful for his experience with the iconic show.
Bern Nadette Stanis (Thelma Evans Anderson)
Stanis was born in 1953 and played the only daughter in the Evans clan. After her successful run on the show, she branched out into being an author and wrote five books: Situations 101: Relationships, The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly, For Men Only, Situations 101: Finances, and The Last Night. That doesn’t mean she hasn’t been acting here and there over the years. She’s appeared in a number of shows and movies in smaller roles, including playing herself in the short-lived TV series Black Jesus. She lived in Atlanta, Georgia as of November of last year and has two daughters and one granddaughter.
Ja’Net DuBois (Willona Woods)
Dubois played the gossipy neighbor role to a T on Good Times and in the process, created one of the most memorable sitcom characters of all time. She also wrote the theme song for The Jeffersons and continued her acting career up through the middle of the last decade. Later in life, she appeared on shows like Moesha, A Different World, The Steve Harvey Show and movies like Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. Unfortunately, DuBois passed away in February of 2020 in Glendale, California.
Janet Jackson (Penny Gordon Woods)
Jackson is one of the more famous people to appear on Good Times, as the bulk of her professional career really took off when she became a pop star in the 1980s and ’90s. She played the troubled daughter of Linella Gordon, an abusive mother who had Penny when she was a teenager. Jackson’s career after Good Times is well-documented, and in 2019 she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She was supposed to release an album and embark on a huge world tour in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced her to reschedule. A two-part documentary of her life premiered on A&E and Lifetime in January of 2022. Jackson was born in 1966.