Norman Lear’s Good Times was intended to be a realistic look at a working-class African-American family living inside a Chicago housing project. It was…until one unforgettable catchphrase was introduced.
Florida and James Evans, played by Esther Rolle and John Amos respectively, had an eldest son named J.J. His exclamation “Dyn-o-mite!” became one of the most recognized catchphrases of all time. As often happens when a secondary character delights an audience, J.J. became the centerpiece of the show, and instead of focusing on the family’s real-life struggles, episodes began centering on J.J.’s antics.
John Amos, who played J.J.’s father, wasn’t happy about this, he tells Oprah: Where Are They Now? He was promised one thing, and the show quickly became another. “It was imperative to me that, this black father, he was not going to live the way that black men had been portrayed through the media, and I made it clear as time went by,” John says. “The writers, some of them, became incensed that I was of the opinion that I knew more about a black father than they did, and it got to the place where I almost had a confrontation with several of the writers. I mean a physical confrontation.”
In 1976, John was informed he’d been cut from the cast of Good Times. Here, he looks back on the principled stand that cost him his job.
Don’t miss Oprah: Where Are They Now? Saturday at 10/9c on OWN.
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