Where Are They Now? The Cast of “227”
The theme song says it best: “There’s no place like home.” That’s very true, and there wasn’t anything like 227 back in the day (aside from the very hard to top Cosby Show). On top of having a fun theme song, teaching us life lessons and showing off the hottest looks, trends, and things of the late ’80s (including Jackee), 227 was MAD entertaining because it was both positive and real. The show ended in 1990 and helped pave the way for many other classics and successful acting careers, but I had to show some love today to the D.C. based comedy and find out where folks are now. Let’s get to it!
Mary Jenkins was the queen of the gossips, and also happened to be the much loved and respected housewife in the apartment building inhabited by all kinds of cool and kooky folks. If there was one thing you needed to know about Mary, it was that she didn’t take no mess. And with Marla previously playing the sharp-tongued maid, Florence, on The Jeffersons, moving on to Mary seemed to be a piece of cake. After her years on the show, Gibbs did a lot of TV work, including guest appearances on Martin, a role on The Hughleys, and voice work for the TV series, “101 Dalmatians: The Series.” She’s currently filming Madea’s Witness Protection with Tyler Perry…
I know I’m not the only one who has seen Helen Martin in every hood movie there is, but before she got really caught up in ish like Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood and I Got the Hook Up, she was uber-nosey Pearl Bailey on 227. The neighbor who stayed sitting half outside of her window, spreading the gossip around with Mary and the other ladies. After the show ended, she did a lot of movies, including the TV movie, Something to Sing About, Bulworth, and Kiss the Girls, however, Martin passed away in 2000 at the youthful age of 90.
Mary’s boo, Lester, was the do-right (and stay out of gossip) brotha in the picture, as well as a successful construction company owner. Outside of doing the show, he made appearances on everything from “The Sinbad Show” to “Moesha,” and the movie Guess Who. He’s done a few small independent films since the show ended as well, but for the most part, he’s just played extras and kept his appearances very low-key.
Alaina Reed Hall
I loved Rose! She was probably the most friendly resident at 227, and is classified as a “friend to all.” She was a single mom trying to play the dating field, and she also had the chance to be the building landlord. Hall’s life has been just as interesting in real life as her character’s was on television. She appeared on Sesame Street, married the guy who played Predator, did a lot of voice work (“Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego,” “Sonic the Hedgehog”) and did a lot of TV work too, appearing on the show Ally McBeal as a judge. The last movie she was in was an interesting one called, I’m Through With White Girls with fine a** Lamman Rucker. Sadly, Hall passed away in 2009 at the age of 63 after battling breast cancer.
Ha! Perhaps my favorite 227 characters was Regina King’s Brenda Jenkins. She was the adorable and studious daughter of Mary and Lester, and the girlfriend of fellow 227 resident, Calvin Hobbs. She was mad cool too, I’ll never forget the episode where she danced with Bobby Brown to my jam, “I’ll Be Good to You” while in class. Too awesome! But anyway, we know she had the most success in the end. King went on to have roles in Poetic Justice, Boyz n the Hood, Friday, Jerry Maguire, and How Stella Got Her Groove Back. And of course, she’s had a lot of television success with shows like 24, her voice work on The Boondocks (as Huey and Riley), and her current smash TNT show, Southland. She’s also dating cutie Malcolm-Jamal Warner, of Cosby Show fame.
Now, as for being all the men in America’s favorite character on the show, that award had to go to Jackée Harry for her role as voluptuous maneater, Sandra Clark. Harry’s character bickered with Mary over the rules on men and life, and they also had a small feud in real life. Harry later cleared up on the Wendy Williams Show that the two women were once again friends after falling out. Harry tried to do a spin-off from 227 that wasn’t green-lit, but she still had decent success after the show blew her up and brought her an Emmy. She did a show called The Royal Family, as well as playing Lisa Landry on Sister, Sister. She’s done movies like You Got Served, and appeared most recently on shows like Celebrity Fit Club, Everybody Hates Chris, Let’s Stay Together, and on her ex-husband’s short-lived reality TV show (Elgin Charles), Beverly Hills Fabulous.
Mr. Baldwin played the very cute resident of 227 by the name of Calvin Hobbs. Hobbs was the grandson of nosey neighbor Pearl, and as I stated earlier, wound up being the boyfriend of Regina King’s character, Brenda. If you want to know what he’s been up to…pretty much nothing in TV. He appeared on a TODAY show reunion with a few other 227 regulars, but he’s done little film work since the show ended.
This man’s hair was a Jheri curl dream. And no, he’s not related to the Jacksons, but he did dance with Michael in the video for “Beat It.” The former White Shadow star was the pretty interesting character of Travis on the show, appearing in season five. When the show ended, he did CB4 with Chris Rock, The Fan with Wesley Snipes and Robert DeNiro, and recently had guest appearances on the TV shows, Everybody Hates Chris, and my favorite, Modern Family.
I remember Paul Winfield most from playing Dr. King in the TV movie, “King” from the ’70s and for his Academy Award nominated role in Sounder with Cicely Tyson. However, he did have a loyal following on the show for playing oh so ratchet and stingy landlord, Julian C. Barlow. His character unexpectedly died in season five, leaving Rose as the landlord for 227. After the show, he had TV stints on LA Law, Touched By an Angel, and as Don King in the TV movie, Tyson. He also did voice work for The Simpson and The Magic School Bus. Winfield passed after battling bone cancer at the age of 64 in 2004.
After slaying the competition on Star Search and letting the world know her favorite show was 227, a young Countess Vaughn was actually lucky enough to be offered a role on the show as the gifted house guest of the Jenkin’s family–Alexandra DeWitt. She only had a role in season four, and left with an elaborate plot that involved moving to London with her archaeologist father. After 227, she popped up on Thea with a young Brandy, played the hilarious Kim Parker on Moesha with an older Brandy, and played the same character on her successful spin-off, The Parkers, with Mo’Nique. She’s done mostly reality TV since then, including “Celebrity Fit Club” and “Celebrity Rap Superstar” on MTV, but she most recently made an appearance on the BET show, Let’s Stay Together. She was also one of the first people I knew of to publicly announce that she had booty injections…hey, the more you know!
Kevin Peter Hall
I had to add this guy because his short life was soooo interesting. I know you remember Rose’s extra tall husband on 227? Kevin Peter Hall’s character’s name was Warren Merriweather, and at 6’9, he easily grabbed everyone’s attention when he showed up in season five. After the show, he went on to play the actual predator in Predator and Predator 2, as well as the Big Foot-esque character of Harry from Harry and the Hendersons. Hall and Alaina Reed Hall were actually also married in real life. But sadly, after contracting HIV from a contaminated blood transfusion, the actor passed away from pneumonia at the age of 35 in 1991.
Mr. Sobel was the goofy a** teacher of Brenda Jenkins who tried his hardest to be as hip as possible. When the show ended, he actually laid pretty low. He did Doc Hollywood with Michael J. Fox, and That Thing You Do with Tom Hanks, but for the most part, he hasn’t been doing the most in Hollywood. However, he most recently starred alongside Tom Hanks again, in the film, Larry Crowne.
You guys are super lucky, because I was really not going to include Ms. Goodwin to this list, seeing as how I really couldn’t recall her character. But today’s a good day, so here we go. Goodwin played Rose’s daughter, Tiffany Halloway on the show, but when writers couldn’t really develop her character, they got rid of her after season one. However, she was still discussed on the show, they just didn’t want to pay her. But she bounced back in Hollywood and has done everything from the short-lived UPN show, Platinum, to the movie Swimfan, the “Barbershop” TV series, and most recently (2012), she was in a film called, You’re Nobody ’til Somebody Kills You.
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