John Amos

Actor


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-and-a-half-hour Archive interview, John Amos recalls his early years as a football player and making the transition into acting and writing. He talks about becoming a writer for The Leslie Uggams Show, which led to him being cast as "Gordy the Weatherman" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. He describes his role of "Henry Evans" on Maude, which led to him playing family patriarch "James Evans" on Good Times. He talks in-depth about the character of "James Evans," his clashes with series creator Norman Lear, and his departure from the show. Amos also outlines his role as "Kunta Kinte" on the groundbreaking ABC miniseries Roots. He discusses his Roots co-stars, as well as the program's effect on the way African-Americans were seen and portrayed on television. He speaks of his role of "Percy Fitzwallace," Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on The West Wing, and several other acting roles including his one man show, "Halley's Comet." Nancy Harrington conducted the interview on December 2, 2014 in Woodland Hills, CA.

"Television can be a wonderful training ground, or it can be a wonderful career. It has been for me. It's all been one hell of a ride."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
John Amos on being cast as "Gordy the Weatherman" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
John Amos on his problems with the scripts of Good Times and being dismissed from Good Times
John Amos on getting the role of "Kunta Kinte" on Roots
John Amos on appearing in the feature film "Coming to America," starring Eddie Murphy
John Amos on advice to an aspiring actor
John Amos on playing "Henry Evans" on Maude
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on an early encounter with Good Times artist Ernie Barnes
On his football career and becoming a writer; on being "discovered" for "Gordy the Weatherman" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show; on some of his early television appearances with Tim Conway
On being cast as "Gordy the Weatherman" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show; on the character of "Gordy the Weatherman" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show; on the atmosphere on the set and his favorite episodes
On playing "Henry Evans" on Maude; on the character of "James Evans" on Good Times; on acting on Good Times
On being cast as "Kunta Kinte" on Roots

Chapter 2

On his experience playing "Kunta Kinte" on Roots and how his background prepared him for it; on the effect of Roots on his personal self-esteem
On his Roots character, "Kunta Kinte"; on Roots author Alex Haley; on LeVar Burton's performance as young "Kunta Kinte" on Roots; on working with Louis Gossett, Jr. on Roots
On working with Madge Sinclair on Roots; on working with Robert Reed as "Dr. William Reynolds" on Roots; on Leslie Uggams as "Kizzy" on Roots; on working with the producers of the show
On public reaction to Roots; on the Roots reunion on the TV Land Awards; on appearing in the feature films "Coming to America" and "Die Hard 2"

Chapter 3

On working with Jimmie Walker on Good Times; on starring on 704 Hauser and Norman Lear's legacy; on appearing in a Broadway play directed by Carl Reiner
On the audience's relationship with Good Times and his one-man show, "Halley's Comet"; on his feelings about classic television
On the then-current state of television; on appearing on The West Wing
On appearing on Men in Trees; on guest-starring on Two and a Half Men; on his then-current projects

Chapter 4

On his Halley's Comet Foundation; on his favorite thing about acting
On celebrity and how roles for African-Americans have changed over the years; on career achievements and regrets; on advice to an aspiring actor and how he'd like to be remembered
Shows

704 Hauser

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John Amos on starring on 704 Hauser and Norman Lear's legacy

Good Times

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John Amos on an early encounter with Good Times artist Ernie Barnes
John Amos on being cast as "James Evans" on Good Times
John Amos on the character of "James Evans" on Good Times
John Amos on the premise of Good Times
John Amos on his problems with the scripts of Good Times and being dismissed from Good Times
John Amos on working with Jimmie Walker and the rest of the cast of Good Times

Hunter

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John Amos on playing "Captain Dolan" on the series Hunter

Leslie Uggams Show, The

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John Amos on writing for The Leslie Uggams Show, and being "discovered" for "Gordy the Weatherman" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show

Mary Tyler Moore Show, The

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John Amos on being "discovered" for "Gordy the Weatherman" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
John Amos on being cast as "Gordy the Weatherman" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
John Amos on the character of "Gordy the Weatherman" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
John Amos on the atmosphere on the set of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
John Amos on his favorite episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show
John Amos on reuniting with the cast of The Mary Tyler Moore Show on the TV Land Awards

Maude

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John Amos on playing "Henry Evans" on Maude

Roots

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John Amos on getting the role of "Kunta Kinte" on Roots
John Amos on the accent he wanted to use for "Kunta Kinte" on Roots
John Amos on his experience playing "Kunta Kinte" on Roots and how his background prepared him for it
John Amos on the effect of Roots on his personal self-esteem
John Amos on his Roots character, "Kunta Kinte"
John Amos on Roots author Alex Haley 
John Amos on LeVar Burton's performance as young "Kunta Kinte" on Roots
John Amos on working with Louis Gossett, Jr. as "Fiddler" on Roots
John Amos on working with Madge Sinclair as "Bell Reynolds" on Roots
John Amos on working with Robert Reed as "Dr. William Reynolds" on Roots
John Amos on Leslie Uggams as "Kizzy Reynolds" on Roots
John Amos on Roots producers David L. Wolper and Stan Margulies 
John Amos on the public reaction to Roots
John Amos on reuniting with the cast of Roots on the TV Land Awards

TV Land Awards

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John Amos on reuniting with the cast of The Mary Tyler Moore Show  on the TV Land Awards
John Amos on reuniting with the cast of Roots on the TV Land Awards

Two and a Half Men

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John Amos on guest-starring on Two and a Half Men

West Wing, The

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John Amos on appearing as "Percy Fitzwallace" on The West Wing
John Amos on his character of "Percy Fitzwallace" on The West Wing
John Amos on working with Martin Sheen on The West Wing
John Amos on working with John Spencer on The West Wing
John Amos on rehearsing for The West Wing
John Amos on the end of his character on The West Wing
John Amos on the legacy of The West Wing
Topics

Advice

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John Amos on advice to an aspiring actor

Characters & Catchphrases

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John Amos on the character of "James Evans" on Good Times
John Amos on his Roots character, "Kunta Kinte"
John Amos on his character of "Percy Fitzwallace" on The West Wing

Diversity in Television

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John Amos on the public reaction to Roots
John Amos on his experience playing "Kunta Kinte" on Roots and how his background prepared him for it
John Amos on the effect of Roots on his personal self-esteem
John Amos on guest-starring on Two and a Half Men
John Amos on how roles for African-Americans have changed since he started acting

Fame and Celebrity

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John Amos on celebrity

Historic Events and Social Change

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John Amos on the public reaction to Roots
John Amos on his experience playing "Kunta Kinte" on Roots and how his background prepared him for it
John Amos on the effect of Roots on his personal self-esteem
John Amos on guest-starring on Two and a Half Men
John Amos on how roles for African-Americans have changed since he started acting

LGBTQ

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John Amos on guest-starring on Two and a Half Men

Minorities

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John Amos on the public reaction to Roots
John Amos on his experience playing "Kunta Kinte" on Roots and how his background prepared him for it
John Amos on the effect of Roots on his personal self-esteem
John Amos on how roles for African-Americans have changed since he started acting

Pivotal Career Moments

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John Amos on getting the role of "Kunta Kinte" on Roots

Pop Culture

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John Amos on the character of "James Evans" on Good Times
John Amos on his Roots character, "Kunta Kinte"
John Amos on his character of "Percy Fitzwallace" on The West Wing

Television Industry

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John Amos on celebrity
John Amos on advice to an aspiring actor
Professions

Actor

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John Amos on his favorite thing about acting
John Amos on advice to an aspiring actor

Performers

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John Amos on his favorite thing about acting
John Amos on advice to an aspiring actor
Genres

Comedy Series

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John Amos on playing "Gordy the Weatherman" on The Mary Tyler Moore Show
John Amos on playing "James Evans" on Good Times  (Part 1)
John Amos on appearing as "James Evans" on Good Times (Part 2)
John Amos on starring on 704 Hauser and Norman Lear's legacy

Commercials

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John Amos on appearing in commercials 
John Amos on appearing in a well-known McDonalds commercial

Drama Series

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John Amos on appearing as "Percy Fitzwallace" on The West Wing

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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John Amos on playing "Kunta Kinte" on Roots (Part 1)
John Amos on playing "Kunta Kinte" on Roots (Part 2)
People

Beatrice Arthur

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John Amos on playing "Henry Evans" and working with Beatrice Arthur on Maude

Ray Bradbury

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John Amos on meeting Ray Bradbury

LeVar Burton

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John Amos on LeVar Burton's performance as young "Kunta Kinte" on Roots

Tim Conway

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John Amos on some of his early television appearances with Tim Conway

Louis Gossett, Jr.

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John Amos on working with Louis Gossett, Jr. as "Fiddler" on Roots

Alex Haley

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John Amos on Roots author Alex Haley 

John Landis

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John Amos on appearing in the feature film "Coming to America," directed by John Landis

Norman Lear

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John Amos on his problems with the scripts of Good Times and Norman Lear dismissing him from Good Times
John Amos on starring on 704 Hauser and Norman Lear's legacy
John Amos on repairing his relationship with Norman Lear and his thoughts on the then-current state of television

Stan Margulies

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John Amos on Roots producers David L. Wolper and Stan Margulies

Eddie Murphy

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John Amos on appearing in the feature film "Coming to America," starring Eddie Murphy

Robert Reed

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John Amos on working with Robert Reed as "Dr. William Reynolds" on Roots

Esther Rolle

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John Amos on being cast as "James Evans" and working with Esther Rolle on Good Times

Martin Sheen

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John Amos on working with Martin Sheen on The West Wing

Madge Sinclair

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John Amos on working with Madge Sinclair as "Bell Reynolds" on Roots

John Spencer

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John Amos on working with John Spencer on The West Wing

Leslie Uggams

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John Amos on Leslie Uggams as "Kizzy Reynolds" on Roots

Jimmie Walker

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John Amos on working with Jimmie Walker and the rest of the cast of Good Times

David L. Wolper

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John Amos on Roots producers David L. Wolper and Stan Margulies

All Interviews

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