Where Are They Now? 10 Of Our Favorite TV Dads From Classic Black Comedies
With Father’s Day right around the corner (seriously, have you picked up a gift yet?), we thought we’d take a minute out to shout out some of our favorite black TV dads who made some of our favorite shows even better and see what they’re looking like now. Some of them we’ve highlighted in previous “Where Are They Now?” profiles, some of them we haven’t, but all of them are familiar faces we thought were outstanding dads in one way or another (and we thought we’d stick to the ones still in the world).
James Avery as Uncle Phil/Philip Banks on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
“Big ‘ol uncle Phil was always known for his temper, but good heart. While he might throw Jazz out by his shirt and snap at Will at any given moment, he was also there for Will when he needed him (remember the episode where Will’s dad bailed on him??). After the show ended, Avery worked on the show “Sparks,” guest starred on “That ’70s Show,” “The Closer,” and “Grey’s Anatomy,” and also did movies including Hair Show and Who’s Your Caddy? He’s still working and still doing big things.”
Reginald VelJohnson as Carl Winslow on Family Matters
“As Carl Winlsow, the head of the Winslow family (aka, the “Big Kahuna”), he was like many fathers on television: a little uptight, but very funny. When he wasn’t spending time letting Steve Urkel get him enraged, he was working for the Chicago Police department, going up the ranks from officer to sergeant, to lieutenant, and finally captain. In real life, after “Family Matters,” VelJohnson guest starred on “The Parkers, “The Bold and the Beautiful,” and most recently, he guest starred on the popular CBS show “Mike & Molly.” He did have a role on the CW show “Hart of Dixie,” and he has been in the movies Like Mike and Couples Retreat.”
Robert Townsend as Robert Peterson on The Parent’Hood
Hal Williams as Lester Jenkins on 227
“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. He reappeared with the rest of the 227 gang on “Today” in 2010 (see below) to reminisce about their time on the show.”
Bill Cosby as Heathcliff Huxtable on The Cosby Show
“As Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, Bill Cosby was the quintessential black father…or at least the black father we all thought we wanted to have. He was funny, but stern, and he was cool as hell! Peep out those Coogi-esque sweaters he was rocking, his dancing skills, and that time he ran track with his old team in those short shorts. Fastest. Dad. Ever. But anywho, Cosby did more work before the show on-screen, but afterwards, he did more producing and hosting. TV wise he did “The Cosby Mysteries,” “Cosby,” and hosted “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” Movie wise, he was in movies like The Meteor Man and Jack. Aside from all that, we know Cosby likes to speak up on political issues, what he finds to be problems in the black community, and more. Plus, he’s racked up a number of honorary degrees just for being him.”
John Amos as James Evans, Sr. in Good Times
“James Evans, Sr was the hard-working father of the Evans clan. He did numerous jobs to keep a roof over his family’s head, and that’s probably why he, like Florida, didn’t take any mess from any of his kids (or anybody for that matter). He had a fiery temper, but also had a good sense of humor that made him lovable. Unfortunately, we know his character was killed in a car crash around the third season, so what was he doing after the fact? A lot! He did work on the “Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “All About the Andersons,” and appeared on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” He also did a lot of film work, including The Player’s Club, Coming to America, Die Hard 2, and was recently in Madea’s Witness Protection. He is also the writer/producer of a a one-man show called, “Halley’s Comet.”
William Young as Frank Mitchell on Moesha
Young played the very uptight but not out of sight Frank Mitchell on Moesha. His character bumped heads with his eldest on damn near every episode of the popular UPN show, over everything from the boys she dated to the shirts she wore. But in the end, he was a very caring and supportive (and trifling for having a child on the side he told no one about) father. After the show ended in 2001, Young went on to have small roles on many television shows, and appeared in the critically acclaimed film District 9. Currently he stars as Colonel Westbrook, the father of Bryce “Blue” Westbrook (the new Derwin) on The Game, where he gets to work alongside his former TV daughter again–Brandy.
John Witherspoon as “Pops” on The Wayans Bros.
Bang! Bang! Bang! Those were probably the three favorite words of John “Pops” Williams, the diner-owning, polyester wearing, belt-whipping dad of Shawn and Marlon. He brought an extra dose of old-school humor to the show with his white dress shoes on, and he was definitely one of our favorite funny dads. So where is John Witherspoon at now? Well, since the series ended in 1999, Witherspoon has done numerous shows including The Tracy Morgan Show, and the show The First Family. He’s also been in the movie Soul Plane, and of course, he has been the voice of Robert ‘Granddad’ Freeman on the always hilarious Boondocks on Adult Swim, which is finally set to start its fourth season this year.
Tim Reid as Ray Campbell on Sister, Sister
On “Sister, Sister”, actor Tim Reid was Ray Campbell, the father of the bubbly twin, Tamera. He was a straight-edged black Republican who was the sensible parent between himself and Lisa (played by Jackée Harry). In real life, Reid (who is married to Daphne Reid, who played the second Vivian on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”) did a few movies after the show ended in 1999, and he even had recurrings role on “That ’70s Show” and the HBO series “Treme,” and produced documentaries and TV movies. He’s also had a few guest appearances on the show “Soul Man” starring Niecy Nash and Cedric the Entertainer.
Flex Alexander as Flex Washington on One on One
I didn’t realize how important of a character “Flex Washington” was to UPN’s “One on One” until the last season when he disappeared from the show and they tried to center the series around Breanna’s relationship with Arnaz and their big move from Baltimore to Los Angeles after graduation. Plus they brought Ray J on the show…
Flex Alexander was the hilarious former basketball star turned sportscaster trying to learn how to raise his teenage daughter when she comes to live with him. After the show came to a conclusion because of the merger between UPN and the WB to CW, we’ve seen him a lot less these days. He was in Snakes on a Plane, and had a few recurring roles on “Single Ladies” and “The Client List” since then. If you weren’t aware, Flex is married to the beautiful singer Shanice, who used to sing the theme song for “One on One,” and is known for “I Like Your Smile.”