ABOUT THE SHOW
Good Times is an American sitcom that originally aired from February 8, 1974, until August 1, 1979, on CBS.
Florida and James Evans and their three children live in a rented project apartment, 17C, at 721 N. Gilbert Ave., in a housing project (implicitly the infamous Cabrini–Green projects, shown in the opening and closing credits but never mentioned by name on the show)in a poor, black neighborhood in inner-city Chicago. Florida and James' children are James Jr., also known as "J.J.", Thelma, and Michael. When the series begins, J.J. and Thelma are seventeen and sixteen years old, respectively, and Michael, called "the militant midget" by his father due to his passionate activism, is eleven years old. Their exuberant neighbor, and Florida's best friend, is Willona Woods, a recent divorcée who works at a boutique. Their building superintendent is Nathan Bookman (seasons 2–4), to whom James, Willona and later J.J. refer as "Buffalo Butt", or, even more derisively, "Booger".
The characters originated on the sitcom Maude as Florida and Henry Evans, with Florida employed as Maude Findlay's housekeeper in Tuckahoe, New York and Henry employed as a firefighter. When producers decided to feature the Florida character in her own show, they applied retroactive changes to the characters' history. Henry's name became James, there is no mention of Maude, and the couple now live in Chicago.
Episodes of Good Times deal with the characters' attempts to survive in a high rise project building in Chicago, despite their poverty. When he is not unemployed, James Evans is a man of pride who often stated he would not accept charity. He usually works at least two jobs simultaneously, from a wide variety such as dishwasher, construction laborer, etc. When he has to, he plays pool in order to hustle money, though Florida disapproves of this.
|Esther Rolle||Florida Evans||Main||Main|
|John Amos||James Evans, Sr.||Main|
|Ja'net Dubois||Willona Woods||Main|
|Jimmie Walker||James "J.J." Evans, Jr.||Main|
|Ralph Carter||Michael Evans||Main|
|Bern Nadette Stanis*||Thelma Evans Anderson||Main|
|Johnny Brown||Nathan Bookman||Recurring||Main|
|Janet Jackson||Millicent "Penny" Gordon Woods||Main|
|Ben Powers||Keith Anderson||Main|
|*Bern Nadette Stanis was credited as "Bern Nadette" during early episodes of season one.|
- Ned the Wino (Raymond Allen) – The local drunk who frequents the neighborhood and the apartment building where the Evans family reside. In the season one episode "Black Jesus", J.J. uses Ned the Wino as the model for a portrait of Jesus. Another episode is centered around Michael's plan to "clean up" Ned and get him off the booze by letting him stay at the Evans' house.
- Carl Dixon (Moses Gunn) – An atheist shop owner who Michael briefly works for. Despite their religious differences, Carl and Florida begin dating and become engaged in final episode of season four. Carl breaks off the engagement after he is diagnosed with lung cancer. After a pep talk from Bookman, Carl again asks Florida for her hand in marriage. The two marry off-screen and move to Arizona. Florida returns at the beginning of season six, without Carl, for Thelma's wedding. Carl is referenced briefly in episode two of season six, but he is never mentioned again (Florida continues to use the surname Evans instead of Dixon).
- Marion "Sweet Daddy" Williams (Theodore Wilson) – A menacing neighborhood numbers runner and pimp, who has a reputation for wearing flashy clothing and jewelry. He is usually accompanied by bodyguards (one portrayed by Bubba Smith, the other by series painter Ernie Barnes) and comes across as cool and threatening, but has shown a soft heart on occasion, particularly when he decided not to take an antique locket (to settle a debt) that Florida had given to Thelma because it had reminded him of his late mother. (Wilson also plays a club owner named Stanley in the season four episode, "The Comedian and the Loan Sharks".
- Alderman Fred C. Davis (Albert Reed, Jr.) – A local politician with a slightly shady disposition whom the Evans generally despise. Spoofing President Richard M. Nixon, he would state in a speech "I am not a crook." He frequently relies on the support of the Evans family (his "favorite project family") for reelection or support and resorts to threats of eviction to secure their support. In a running joke, Alderman Davis frequently forgets Willona's name and calls her another similar sounding name that began with a "W" (such as Wilhemina, Winnifrieda, Winsomnium, Wyomia and even Waldorf-Astoria and even then names such as "Petronia" and "Philomena". At one time he gets her first name right but her last name wrong – Willona Weeds), thus earning him her everlasting ire as well as the nickname "Baldy".
- Lenny (Dap 'Sugar' Willie) – A neighborhood hustler and peddler who tries to sell presumably stolen items that are usually attached to the lining of his fur coat. He usually approaches people with a laid-back rap and a rhyme ("my name is Len-nay, if I ain't got it, there ain't an-nay"). He is typically rebuffed by the people he approaches and responds by saying "that's cold" or uses a small brush to "brush off" the negativity.
- "Grandpa" Henry Evans (Richard Ward) – James' long lost father. He abandoned the family years before because he was ashamed that he could not do more to provide for them. This hurt James deeply, who disregarded his father's existence, telling everyone he was dead. Thelma learns about her grandfather while doing some family research. She meets him and invites him to the Evans' home to surprise James for his birthday, not knowing that James was well aware of his whereabouts but chose to stay out of his life. After Henry arrives at the Evans home and meets the rest of the family, he realizes that James would not welcome him in the home and decides to leave. Florida convinces him to stay and talk to James and explains that there may never be another chance to do so. Henry and James have a heart-to-heart talk, with Henry being remorseful and apologetic. James ultimately forgives his father. After James' death, the Evans family embraces Henry into the family, alongside his common law (and eventually legal) wife Lena in later episodes.
- Wanda (Helen Martin) – Another resident in the apartment building where the Evans reside. Earlier episodes show her at a women's support group, and the tenants rallying around her by giving her a rent party. Later episodes show her appearing and crying at several funerals, whether she knew the person or not, thus earning her the nickname "Weeping Wanda" from J.J. and Willona.
- Mrs. Lynnetta Gordon (Chip Fields) – Penny's abusive biological mother. Mrs. Gordon was abandoned by Penny's father when she became pregnant. As a result, she took her anger and frustrations out on Penny, including burning her with a hot iron. After the abuse was finally brought to light, Mrs. Gordon abandoned Penny, despite Willona's pleas to her to seek help. Just before she disappeared, Mrs. Gordon expressed regret for hurting her child, telling Willona that Penny deserved better than her. She reappeared more than a year later, having remarried, and revealed that her new husband is from a very wealthy family. Mrs. Gordon uses her husband's wealth to send Penny anonymous gifts and, in an effort to regain custody of Penny, she also attempts to frame Willona as an unfit adoptive parent who throws wild parties with less than wholesome attendees. However, her scheme is exposed by being recorded on tape admitting that the scheme was a set up to get Penny back. After trying to get the tape from Penny and threatening her again with being hit (which is stopped by Willona), Penny outright rejects her, telling Willona that no matter what anyone said, she would always consider Willona to be her real mother. Mrs. Gordon is devastated by this, agrees to drop the charges against Willona and leaves Penny with her, never to be seen again.
- Cleatus (Jack Baker) – Cousin of J.J. Evans, Thelma Evans Anderson, and Michael Evans and nephew of Florida Evans and James Evans. He made one appearance in the episode "Cousin Cleatus".
Notable Guest Stars
- Debbie Allen as J.J.'s drug-addicted fiancee, Diana in "J.J.'s Fiancee (Parts 1 & 2)" (season 3)
- Matthew "Stymie" Beard (former Our Gang child actor) in five episodes, including four appearances as James' friend Monty
- Sorrell Booke as Mr. Galbraith, J.J.'s boss at the ad agency (season 5, episode 17)
- Roscoe Lee Browne as a shady televangelist Reverend Sam "the Happiness Man", who befriended James in the military (season 1, episode 4)
- T. K. Carter as J.J.'s friend "Head" (part of the "Awesome Foursome", later the "Gleesome Threesome", the "Gruesome Twosome" and the "Lonesome Onesome", as stated in the episode "The New Car"
- Rosalind Cash as Thelma's teacher, Jessica Bishop, who becomes romantically involved with a much younger J.J. (season 4, episode 3)
- Gary Coleman as Gary, a sharp-tongued classmate of Penny's in two season five episodes
- Conchata Ferrell as Miss Johnson, Willona's supervisor at her short-lived second job as security in a department store (season 5, episode 6)
- Kim Fields (real-life daughter of Chip Fields) as Penny's friend, Kim, who has a tendency to add the suffix "-ness" to emphasize her anxiety such as "hopelessnessness" (2 season 6 episodes)
- Carl Franklin as Larry, Thelma's fiance', ultimately breaking up when Larry is offered a job on the West Coast and Thelma is not ready to accompany him (2 episodes)
- Alice Ghostley as a social worker who is working on Penny being adopted by Willona (3 episodes)
- Ron Glass as Michael's elementary school principal (2.4); also made an appearance as a blind encyclopedia salesman who tries to swindle the Evans family (2.8)
- Louis Gossett, Jr., in season two as Thelma's much-older paramour, which Florida and James object to their relationship because of the age difference (2.6); also appears as Uncle Wilbert (Florida's brother), who comes from Detroit to look in on the family while James is away (3.8)
- Robert Guillaume as Fishbone the wino in the episode "Requiem for a Wino" (season 5, episode 11)
- Phillip Baker Hall as Motel Owner in the episode "J.J.'s Fiancee (Part 2)" (season 3, episode 18)
- Shirley Hemphill as "Roz", the dimwitted sister of Edna, who was being tutored by Thelma (season 4, episode 10)
- Gordon Jump as Mr. Rogers, the head of security at Willona's short-lived second job as security in a department store (season 5, episode 6)
- Paula Kelly as Dr. Kelly in the episode "Where Have All The Doctors Gone" (season 6, episode 17)
- Jay Leno as "Young Man" in the season three's "J.J. in Trouble", which was one of the first times that the subject of "VD" (STD) was addressed on a primetime series
- Calvin Lockhart as Florida's cousin Raymond, who earned his riches by betting on horses (season 6, episode 23)
- Paul Mooney as "The Second Guy" in the episode "J.J. and T.C." (season 6)
- Debbi Morgan as Samantha, a date of J.J.'s (3.23); and as Ellen (4.18)
- Charlotte Rae as a hiring manager for a sales job that Florida stole from James (season 2, episode 14)
- Sheryl Lee Ralph as Vanessa in the episode "J.J. and The Plumber's Helper" (season 6, episode 9)
- Philip Michael Thomas as Eddie, Thelma's college-age boyfriend (season 1, episode 6)
- Adam Wade as successful businessman Frank Mason, Willona's boyfriend (2 season 5 episodes)
- Vernee Watson-Johnson as Thelma's friend and college mate Valerie, in the episode "Thelma's African Romance (Part 1)" (season 4)
- Carl Weathers as Calvin Brooks, husband of the 'nude' model for J.J.'s painting (season 2, episode 16)
- Hal Williams as one of the movers in a season one episode; James' friend, Willie Washington (season 2); and Mr. Mitchell, the father of Earl Mitchell, who is an art student of J.J.'s (season 6)
- John Witherspoon as Officer Lawson in the episode "A Matter of Mothers" (season 6, episode 20)