Sad news to report for fans of the 70s urban classic popular hit show “Good Times.”
As known as “Thelma’s husband” “Keith” (whose real name is Ben Powers) the handsome comedic actor passed away age 64—about twelve days or so, ago (as brought forth by a friend/associate of Powers’).
Good Times was a 70s sitcom centering around an African American family living in the ghettos of Chicago making the best of what they had with what they had while two hard-working parents filled pride and principals insisted their three children: JJ (James Carter “Jimmie” Walker), Michael (Ralph Carter) and Thelma (Bern Nadette Stanis) not fall prey or victim to the perils that often times comes with living in the ghetto–by which they made sure remained their humble abode (literally).
This humble abode too, included frequent visits by their neighbor-friend Wilona Woods (pictured-top/center, played by Janet DuBois) who too, was very much apart of the family which too was extended when she adopted abused child “Penny” (played by a then pre-teen Janet Jackson).
And then there was “Bookman” (played by Johnny Brown). Bookman (the building’s maintenance super) was often referred to (by “Wilona”) as “Booger” who, although was the butt of countless puns and jokes, was still “family” to the Evans’—so much so, that his segment’s episode entry sometimes showed him entering the Evans’ humble abode without knocking.
10 Things You Didn’t Know About 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.
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 (cont’d)
We are deeply saddened to report that actor,Alton “Ben” Powers, better known as “Thelma’s” husband, “Keith Anderson” on Good Times, passed away on April 6, 2015. We do not know the exact cause of his death as of yet, but his long time friend made a public announcement a few days ago, confirming Ben’s death.
As soon as we get further details surrounding his passing, we’ll post it, but we just want to make sure that Ben Power’s legacy shines. So ILOSM family, let’s all celebrate a man who doesn’t get much attention in mainstream media anymore, but who we old school heads admire and respect greatly.
After his run on Good Times was completed, Powers actually guest starred in 80’s TV dramas and sitcom shows, so for those who don’t know, here’s a quick rundown of his work: He’s guest starred on shows such as Gimme a Break,Flamingo Road, The Greatest American Hero,The New Odd Couple and Laverne & Shirley.
He also was on the detective drama show, Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, from 1984-85, right up until the the time that the star of the show, Stacy Keach, was arrested in London for cocaine smuggling which ultimately caused the show to get canceled, while Keach served time in England. Powers starred in a few films like Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie, Things Are Tough All Over, The Man Who Loved Womenleft, and he had smaller roles in some made for TV movies also, but he ended up leaving the acting world altogether at the end of 1985.
One of the most memorable scenes from Good Times is…wait for it….you know it: The infamous “wedding” episode when Ben’s character, “Keith” married “Thelma.” Is it just me, or did it feel like you were watching one of your family members get married on that episode? Powers, Bern Nadette Stanis and the rest of the Good Times cast couldn’t have executed that episode any better than what they did…they nailed it. “Michael Evans” singing Stevie Wonder’s “You and I (We Can Conquer The World)” was the icing on the cake, but when “Keith” broke his leg running down that isle and ended his NFL return, everybody was like “DAMN! Keith just can’t catch a break!” That was a classic episode and a great display of love on prime time TV back then. Okay I could go on and on about that ep’ but I’ll stop here.
The fact is that our beloved Ben Powers may not have been well-known to all the mainstream world, but he was known to us, the fans who faithfully watched Good Times on our family’s floor model TV, or else the smaller TV with the foil on the rabbit ears (those are TV antennas for our young old school fans on here) and a pair of pliers on the TV knob, sitting on top of the big floor model TV that no longer worked…don’t act bourgeois now ILOSM family…you know what we’re talking about…LOL! Seriously though, (cont’d)
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