Entertainment

‘Good Times’ comedian, singer and actor turns 84 – The Hollywood Reporter

Johnny Brown, easygoing actor, comedian and singer best known for his role as housing project manager Nathan Bookman on Good times, has died. He was 84 years old.

Brown died on Wednesday, his daughter, actress Sharon Catherine Brown, announced on Instagram. “Our family was devastated. Devastated. Devastated. Apart from grief. Almost breathable,” she wrote.

Other details of his death were not immediately available.

Brown also recorded songs and performed in a band with saxophonist Sam “The Man” Taylor, appeared twice on Broadway in the 1960s and was a regular performer for three seasons on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.

Brown, who has a strong impression of Louis Armstrong and others, is a leading candidate to play Lamont opposite Redd Foxx on Sanford and Sonbut because his contract binds him to Laughthis role belongs to Demond Wilson.

With the former Laugh writer Allan Manings as producer on Good times, Brown joined the CBS comedy set in Chicago in 1975 midway through its second season. His character is often teased about his weight by JJ (Jimmie Walker) and other members of the Evans family.

“Sometimes you can do too much, and that just doesn’t come naturally,” Brown said in 2019. “With everyone. [calling Bookman] ‘buffalo ass’ in one scene, it loses something. … They even have Janet [Jackson]who just joined the program, answered like Mr. Buffalo Butt.

“And they used it in every performance. They used it when I was walking in the show, throughout the scene. When I left the scene, they used it. I can’t say anything because I have a wife and two children to support. Now at my age, I’m going to have to say something”.

Brown was born on June 11, 1937 in St.Petersburg, Florida and raised in Harlem. He won an amateur night competition at the Apollo Theater; co-starred in nightclub activities with his future wife, June, and with percussionist Gregory Hines Jr. and drummer Gregory Hines Sr.; and recorded songs for Columbia and Atlantic records.

While working in the Catskills, Brown met Sammy Davis Jr., and the legendary entertainer would prove to be an inspiration. “He did all the things I wanted to do,” Brown said in a 1996 interview. “I wanted to be a complete, well-rounded entertainer; I don’t just want to sing or tell a joke. “

In 1964, when Davis was preparing to star in a musical adaptation of Golden Boy on Broadway, he got Brown a gig as a Godfrey Cambridge apprentice. (Brown says he’s never even seen a Broadway show before.)

But then Cambridge started arguing with director Arthur Penn. “In those days, what was important to a comedian was an album. Like Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor and those guys, if an album sells, they can make big money from the concert,” Brown said. Cambridge couldn’t “get out of the contract, so he started arguing every day until two days before the preview opened.”

That’s when Cambridge was fired. Brown takes on the role of Ronnie and leads in the “Don’t Forget 127th Street” stop as Golden Boy spanned more than 500 performances.

Brown made his film debut portraying a blind pianist in a TV series starring Davis A man called Adam (1966) – future Good times co-star Ja’Net DuBois was in it too – and returned to Broadway in 1968 for Take me back to the top of the morning side, directed by Sidney Poitier. Although the cast includes Cicely Tyson, Diane Ladd, Louis Gossett Jr. and David Steinberg, the comedy lasted but a week.

He came to Los Angeles when Neil Simon offered him the role of a waiter on a train in The Out of Towners (1970). While in town, he met Ethel Winant, CBS’s influential casting director, “and by the time I got back to New York, I had a series” – The Leslie Uggams show.

Brown turned on Laugh for a year before he knew why he was hired to do it. Davis “had dinner with [Dan] Rowan and [Dick] Martin,” he recalls. “They were looking for new faces, and Sammy, not paying attention, said, ‘Look for Johnny Brown.'”

Brown is also welcome on shows including Julia, Maude, Rookies, Very lucky!, The Jeffersons, Archie Bunker’s Place, Family problems, Sisters, Moonlight and Martin and in movies like The Wiz (1978), Poitier’s Hanky ​​Panky (1982), Life (1999) and Town & Country (2001).

He also featured the writer Write Brothers (“Write for brothers, keep writing!”) in a series of musical commercials for Papermate in the early 1970s and starred in Gospel Truthperformed on stages across the country in the late 80s.

In addition to his 61-year-old daughter and wife, survivors include his son, John Jr.

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