On this day in comedy on June 25, 1947 Comedian, Actor, James Carter “Jimmie” Walker, Jr. was born in The Bronx, New York.
Walker initially got into show business through radio. Thanks to the federal program, SEEK (Search for Education, Evaluation and Knowledge) he was able to get into radio engineering at station WRVR and later became a radio personality on R&B station KAGB 103.9 FM in Inglewood, California. He got started in stand=up in 1969 and following appearances on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In and The Jack Paar Show, Walker was plucked up by a casting director to be in the next big Norman Lear sitcom for CBS.
Good Times was an instant hit and earned Walker 2 Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actor. A spin-off from Maude (which was spin-off from All in the Family) the show was about Florida Evans, a maid married to James Evans, a chronically unemployed father of three: a teen-age daughter, a young militant son and a buffoon. The part of J J didn’t start off that way, but once producer John Rich latched onto the catchphrase “Dy-no-mite”, he mandated Walker utter it at least once an episode; the die was cast. The eldest son of the Evans clan stole the show with his increasingly over-the-top antics and before long the two stars and many in the black public turned against the tone of the character, the show and by association – Walker. There were defections and in its waning days the smash about a struggling black family in the projects turned into the JJ show as Walker and a skeleton cast held things together before they completely fell apart and Good Times was canceled.
However, before those times came to a close Walker got busy. He released a comedy album titled, “Dy-no-mite!” on Buddah Records. He co-starred in the Sidney Poitier directed theatrical comedy, Let’s Do It Again along with Bill Cosby and John Amos (the father on Good Times). Walker also starred in the TV movie The Greatest Thing That Almost Happened with James Earl Jones. His other film credits include Rabbit Test, The Concorde: Airport ’79 and Airplane. He starred in two other sitcoms; the short lived, At Ease (1983) and Bustin’ Loose (1987). Jimmie Walker hawked product on commercials, guest-starred on sitcoms and yukked it up on game shows. He later went back on radio with his right-wing brand of conservative comedy, wrote his autobiography, “Dy-no-mite! Good Times, Bad Times, Our Times – A Memoir” and continues to tour as a stand-up comedian.
By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton
Check out his clip: