Jimmie Walker

Actor


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-hour interview, Jimmie Walker talks about his early life and getting his start doing stand-up comedy at the African Room, where he was advised by comedian David Brenner. He describes early television appearances with Joe Franklin and Jack Paar, and his ultimate goal to get on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He recounts being cast by Norman Lear as “J.J. Evans” on the comedy Good Times, a spin-off from Lear’s Maude. He discusses difficulties he had getting along with his castmates on Good Times, including Esther Rolle and John Amos, and how "J.J.'s" catchphrase, "Dyn-o-mite!" made him the breakout character from the show. Walker tells stories of guest-starring on several series including The Love Boat and The Larry Sanders Show, as well as appearing on the game shows Match Game and Hollywood Squares. He concludes by giving an insider’s perspective on Jay Leno taking over The Tonight Show, and discussing his conservatism. John Dalton conducted the interview on February 7, 2017 in North Hollywood, CA.

"Every month during 'Good Times,' Norman Lear would say, 'I beg of you, go get some acting lessons. It would really help you,' and I would say, 'I like what I do.' Then, in the second year, I hate to say it, the laughs got so big, it was bigger than Norman Lear."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Jimmie Walker on being cast as "J.J. Evans" on Good Times
Jimmie Walker on doing stand-up at the African Room, and on learning from comedian David Brenner
Jimmie Walker on his Good Times catch phrase, "Dyn-o-mite!" and on how Norman Lear felt about it
Jimmie Walker on television he watched growing up, and his early influences
Jimmie Walker on how he'd like to be remembered
Jimmie Walker on the end of Good Times, and on the legacy of the show
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on television he watched growing up, and his early influences; on the comedy improv group The Last Poets
On doing stand-up at the African Room, and on learning from comedian David Brenner; on appearing on The Joe Franklin Show; on being discovered to appear on Jack Paar Tonite
On his goal to appear on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and on working with Bette Midler at the Continental Baths; on being cast as "J.J. Evans" on Good Times; on his first days playing "J.J. Evans" on Good Times, and on working with producer Norman Lear
On his character, "J.J. Evans," on Good Times, and on "Michael Evans" played by Ralph Carter; on his level of comfort in acting on Good Times, and the difficulty of an African-American actor being the "laugh guy" on a series; on Norman Lear searching for black writers for Good Times, and on Married with Children creator Michael Moye

Chapter 2

On his Good Times catch phrase, "Dyn-o-mite!," and on how Norman Lear felt about it; on working with show creator Norman Lear on Good Times, and on Aaron Spelling dealing with actors on Starsky & Hutch; on Good Times co-creator Mike Evans, who also played "Lionel Jefferson" on The Jeffersons
On "J.J. Evans'" denim hat on Good Times, and on show director John Rich; on his friendship with Freddie Prinze; on working with Esther Rolle as "Florida Evans" and John Amos as "James Evans" on Good Times, and on the lack of unity among the cast
On Ralph Carter and Bern Nadette Stanis as "Michael" and "Thelma Evans" on Good Times; on Ja'net Dubois as "Willona Woods" on Good Times; on Janet Jackson as "Penny" on the show
On the experience of being the breakout star of Good Times, and on still working as a stand-up during the series' run; on favorite episodes and guest stars of Good Times; on the end of Good Times, and on the show's legacy

Chapter 3

On Norman Lear wanting to cover controversial topics on Good Times; on how Good Times impacted his career, and on his struggles in show business
On appearing on The Love Boat, and on starring in B.A.D. Cats with Michelle Pfeiffer; on appearing on Match Game and Hollywood Squares; on guest-starring on The Larry Sanders Show and Everybody Hates Chris
On Jay Leno getting The Tonight Show with the help of Helen Kushnick
On what he loves about stand-up comedy; on being conservative in Hollywood
On how the industry has changed since he started and on his friend and mentor comedian David Brenner; on advice to aspiring comedians; on career achievements and regrets, and how he'd like to be remembered
Shows

Battle of the Network Stars

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Jimmie Walker on appearing on Battle of the Network Stars

Everybody Hates Chris

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Jimmie Walker on guest-starring on Everybody Hates Chris

Good Times

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Jimmie Walker on being cast as "J.J. Evans" on Good Times
Jimmie Walker on his first days playing "J.J. Evans" on Good Times, and on working with producer Norman Lear
Jimmie Walker on his character, "J.J. Evans," on Good Times, and on "Michael Evans" played by Ralph Carter
Jimmie Walker on his level of comfort in acting on Good Times, and the difficulty of an African-American actor being the "laugh guy" on a series
Jimmie Walker on Norman Lear searching for black writers for Good Times, and on Married with Children creator Michael Moye
Jimmie Walker on his Good Times catch phrase, "Dyn-o-mite!" and on how Norman Lear felt about it
Jimmie Walker on working with show creator Norman Lear on Good Times, and on Aaron Spelling dealing with actors on Starsky & Hutch
Jimmie Walker on Good Times co-creator Mike Evans, who also played "Lionel Jefferson" on The Jeffersons
Jimmie Walker on "J.J. Evans'" denim hat on Good Times, and on show director John Rich
Jimmie Walker on working with Esther Rolle as "Florida Evans" and John Amos as "James Evans" on Good Times, and on the lack of unity among the cast
Jimmie Walker on Esther Rolle as "Florida Evans" and John Amos as "James Evans" leaving the cast of Good Times, and on the chemistry of the cast
Jimmie Walker on Ralph Carter and Bern Nadette Stanis as "Michael" and "Thelma Evans" on Good Times
Jimmie Walker on Ja'net Dubois as "Willona Woods" on Good Times
Jimmie Walker on Janet Jackson as "Penny" on Good Times
Jimmie Walker on the experience of being the breakout star of Good Times, and on still working as a stand-up during the series' run
Jimmie Walker on favorite episodes and guest stars of Good Times
Jimmie Walker on the end of Good Times, and on the legacy of the show
Jimmie Walker on Norman Lear wanting to cover controversial topics on Good Times
Jimmie Walker on how Good Times impacted his career, and on his struggles in show business

Hollywood Squares, The

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Jimmie Walker on appearing on Match Game and Hollywood Squares

Jack Paar Tonite

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Jimmie Walker on being discovered and appearing on Jack Paar Tonite

Jeffersons, The

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Jimmie Walker on Good Times co-creator Mike Evans, who also played "Lionel Jefferson" on The Jeffersons

Joe Franklin Show, The

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Jimmie Walker on appearing on The Joe Franklin Show

Larry Sanders Show, The

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Jimmie Walker on appearing on The Larry Sanders Show starring Garry Shandling

Love Boat, The

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Jimmie Walker on appearing on The Love Boat

Match Game

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Jimmie Walker on appearing on Match Game and Hollywood Squares

Starsky and Hutch

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Jimmie Walker on working with show creator Norman Lear on Good Times, and on Aaron Spelling dealing with actors on Starsky & Hutch

Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The

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Jimmie Walker on his goal to appear on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and on working with Bette Midler at the Continental Baths
Topics

Advice

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Jimmie Walker on advice to aspiring comedians

Characters & Catchphrases

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Jimmie Walker on his character, "J.J. Evans," on Good Times, and on "Michael Evans" played by Ralph Carter
Jimmie Walker on his Good Times catch phrase, "Dyn-o-mite!" and on how Norman Lear felt about it

Creative Influences and Inspiration

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Jimmie Walker on discovering he wanted to be a stand-up comedian due partly to Dick Gregory
Jimmie Walker on doing stand-up in the African Room, and on learning from David Brenner

Pivotal Career Moments

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Jimmie Walker on discovering he wanted to be a stand-up comedian due partly to Dick Gregory
Jimmie Walker on doing stand-up at the African Room, and on learning from comedian David Brenner

Pop Culture

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Jimmie Walker on his character, "J.J. Evans," on Good Times, and on "Michael Evans" played by Ralph Carter
Jimmie Walker on his Good Times catch phrase, "Dyn-o-mite!" and on how Norman Lear felt about it

Television Industry

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Jimmie Walker on how the industry's changed since he started
Jimmie Walker on advice to aspiring comedians
Professions

Comedian

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Jimmie Walker on dealing with disappointment and rejection in his career
Jimmie Walker on what he loves about stand-up comedy

Performers

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Jimmie Walker on dealing with disappointment and rejection in his career
Jimmie Walker on what he loves about stand-up comedy
Genres

Comedy Series

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Jimmie Walker on playing "J.J. Evans" on Good Times
Jimmie Walker on playing "J.J. Evans" on Good Times
Jimmie Walker on playing "J.J. Evans" on Good Times
Jimmie Walker on appearing on The Love Boat
Jimmie Walker on appearing on The Larry Sanders Show starring Garry Shandling
Jimmie Walker on guest-starring on Everybody Hates Chris

Game Shows

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Jimmie Walker on appearing on Match Game and Hollywood Squares
Jimmie Walker on appearing on Battle of the Network Stars

Talk Shows

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Jimmie Walker on being discovered and appearing on Jack Paar Tonite
People

John Amos

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Jimmie Walker on working with Esther Rolle as "Florida Evans" and John Amos as "James Evans" on Good Times, and on the lack of unity among the cast

David Brenner

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Jimmie Walker on his friend and mentor comedian David Brenner

Johnny Carson

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Jimmie Walker on his goal to appear on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and on working with Bette Midler at the Continental Baths

Mike Evans

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Jimmie Walker on Good Times co-creator Mike Evans, who also played "Lionel Jefferson" on The Jeffersons

Joe Franklin

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Jimmie Walker on appearing on The Joe Franklin Show

Dick Gregory

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Jimmie Walker on discovering he wanted to be a stand-up comedian due partly to Dick Gregory

Janet Jackson

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Jimmie Walker on Janet Jackson as "Penny" on Good Times

Norman Lear

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Jimmie Walker on his first days playing "J.J. Evans" on Good Times, and on working with producer Norman Lear
Jimmie Walker on his Good Times catch phrase, "Dyn-o-mite!," and on how Norman Lear felt about it
Jimmie Walker on working with show creator Norman Lear on Good Times, and on Aaron Spelling dealing with actors on Starsky & Hutch
Jimmie Walker on Norman Lear wanting to cover controversial topics on Good Times

Jay Leno

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Jimmie Walker on Jay Leno getting The Tonight Show with the help of Helen Kushnick

Bette Midler

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Jimmie Walker on his goal to appear on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and on working with Bette Midler at the Continental Baths

Jack Paar

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Jimmie Walker on being discovered and appearing on Jack Paar Tonite

Michelle Pfeiffer

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Jimmie Walker on starring in B.A.D. Cats with Michelle Pfeiffer

Freddie Prinze

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Jimmie Walker on his friendship with Freddie Prinze

John Rich

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Jimmie Walker on "J.J. Evans'" denim hat on Good Times, and on show director John Rich

Esther Rolle

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Jimmie Walker on working with Esther Rolle as "Florida Evans" and John Amos as "James Evans" on Good Times, and on the lack of unity among the cast

Garry Shandling

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Jimmie Walker on appearing on The Larry Sanders Show starring Garry Shandling

Aaron Spelling

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Jimmie Walker on working with show creator Norman Lear on Good Times, and on Aaron Spelling dealing with actors on Starsky & Hutch

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