On this day in comedy on June 11, 1937, Actor, John “Johnny” Brown was born in St. Petersburg, Florida
Brown established himself professionally as a Broadway performer in the Sammy Davis, Jr. musical, Golden Boy. He played the part of Ronnie and was featured in one of the show-stopping numbers. Once he got that attention he landed the lead in a high profile national commercial for Papermate’s Write Brothers pen. Brown-headed the musical number where he had the role of the teacher showing his students why they should use the Write Brothers pen. He also found film work in the movie The Out of Towners in 1970.
Known for his amiable persona, quick wit and easy-going comedy style, Brown soon found himself on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In. That gig turned out to be a career break and killer. Norman Lear had originally considered Brown to play the part of Redd Foxx’s son Lamont in Sanford and Son, but because of his Laugh-In commitment, Lear had to look elsewhere and cast Demond Wilson.
Brown earned his sitcom success on Good Times. The CBS Esther Rolle / John Amos vehicle was a smash hit and the character of building superintendent, Bookman, was a standout. That wasn’t easy with Jimmie Walker stealing most of the show. Walker’s scenes were always guaranteed extra laughs though, whenever Bookman entered the apartment and became the butt of a lot of fat boy, big butt jokes. However, Bookman also knew how to issue out jokes too and managed to often give as good as he got.
Once Good Times was canceled in 1979, Johnny Brown made the guest-starring rounds. He’d been seen previously on The Flip Wilson Show and he also did The Jeffersons, Family Matters, Martin and The Jamie Foxx Show. Johnny Brown later appeared in the Eddie Murphy / Martin Lawrence film, Life in 1999.
By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton
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