10 Facts You May Not Know about the TV Show, “Good Times”

Good Times was that show that all of us knew better than we know our own relatives.  Most of us can sing the theme song even without knowing all the words, and if I were to walk into a room and say the words “damn, damn, damn!” you would know EXACTLY what scene I was talking about.

But here is a short list of interesting tidbits about the show that you may not know.  We are not sharing this information with you for any reason other than the fact that it’s interesting.  The most notable fact is that the show didn’t start doing poorly until JJ stopped acting like a complete buffoon.  Here’s the rundown….feel free to add your own Good Times-related information to the comment section below:

1) Florida Evans (Esther Rolle) was much older than James Evans (John Amos):  Florida was born in 1920 and James was born in 1939.  So, when show began in 1974, Florida was already 54 years old, married to a 35-year old husband.

2) JJ was an old man too:  JJ, played by Jimmie Walker, was born in 1947, only 8 years later than James.  He was certainly no teenager on the show, being 27-years old when the show released its debut.

3) Willona (played by Ja’net Dubois) was only 2 years older than JJ.  They could have dated each other.

4) Esther Rolle was consistently annoyed that even though the show was created around her, a comedian (Jimmie Walker) was getting all of the attention.

5) The show was created by Michael Evans, who also played Lionel Jefferson on another show you might have heard of.  He based the show on his own childhood.

6) The show was a spinoff of another show, called “Maude,” where Florida was a maid.  They changed the name of her husband in the spinoff.

7) Jay Leno appeared on the show in an episode about STDs, one of the first in the history of television.

8) In her indignation over JJ’s role, Esther said:   “He’s eighteen and he doesn’t work. He can’t read or write. He doesn’t think. The show didn’t start out to be that…Little by little—with the help of the artist, I suppose, because they couldn’t do that to me—they have made J.J. more stupid and enlarged the role. Negative images have been slipped in on us through the character of the oldest child.”

9) When John Amos left the show after failed contract negotiations, he said this about JJ’s character: “The writers would prefer to put a chicken hat on J.J. and have him prance around saying “DY-NO-MITE”, and that way they could waste a few minutes and not have to write meaningful dialogue.”

10) Esther Rolle was convinced to come back during the last season under three conditions:  They would write out the character that she ran off and married after James’ death (since she didn’t think Florida would move on so quickly), they would give her a raise in salary, and JJ would  have more respectable, intelligent roll. Oddly enough, that’s when the show started to tank in the ratings.

Come on people, we’ve got to do better.


In case you don’t know all the lyrics, we pulled them together for you:


Any time you need a payment!
Any time you need a friend!
Any time you’re out from under!
Not gettin’ hassled, not getting hustled!
Keeping your head above water!
Making a way when you can!
Temporary lay-offs!
Easy Credit rip-offs!
Scratchin’ and Survivin’
Hangin’ in a chow line!
Ain’t we lucky we got ’em?
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There are 312 comments for this article
  1. cheche at 6:42 pm

    I loved Good Times too and actually met the cast at a fund raising for the UNCF. Wilona was a sweet heart and down to earth. Michael was nice too. Easter Rolle was very stand-offish and just plain mean! James a sweet heart and JJ thought he was the finest thing on this earth…UGH! Thelma was one of the most self-centered conceited women I have met and I got to know her better as her then boyfriend was good friends with my male roommate! She was extremely jealous which was very hard for me to understand because she was a beautiful women

  2. Theotis Washington jefferson Roosevelt III at 6:58 pm

    What I want to know Is …Where did the door In the kitchen lead to? Nobody ever went out that door…If It was a closet , then why were the broom and mop hanging on the wall!

  3. Josh at 8:50 pm

    What is meant by “we can do better”?
    I loved the shows – I am not black. I could not stand JJ, actually. A lot of white kids in the 1070s thought he was hysterical.

    I still watch this show in reruns.

  4. Byg Sean at 1:23 pm

    Just a correction in the song. I thought the lyric in the song said “Hanging in the chow line” also until Bernadette Stanis (Thelma) stated in an interview that it actually says “Hanging and Jiving”
    Scratchin an survivin
    Good times
    Hangin and a jivin
    Good times!!

  5. Butter at 8:42 am

    I still watch Good Times today. I just wish they would’ve ended with show where they actually was able to get out of the ghetto or at least out of that building since they were so determined.

  6. ArtLady at 8:46 am

    I loved the show ad well and I am actually watching it right now hence I did some research I never liked j.j. on the show always wanted attention and always wanted to be funny the other kids were left out way too much for my taste and I hated how j.j. played dumb all the time not to mentioned how James was killed off the show soon just to have the mom to leave….I wanted so badly for them to get out of that low key life and into something better than the projects

  7. Pingback: Good Times No More: Why Black America's Favorite TV Dad James Evans Couldn't Exist In The Year 2014

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