John Amos


27 Dec 1939


Newark, New Jersey, USA


John A. Amos


A native of New Jersey and son of a mechanic, African-American John Amos has relied on his imposing build, eruptive nature and strong, forceful looks to obtain acting jobs, and a serious desire for better roles to earn a satisfying place in the annals of film and TV. He has found it a constant uphill battle to further himself in an industry that tends to diminish an actor's talents with severe and/or demeaning stereotypes and easy pigeonholing. A tough, often hot-headed guy with a somewhat tender side, John would succeed far better on stage than on film and TV...with one extremely noteworthy exceptions.

Born on December 27, 1939, John was first employed as an advertising copywriter, a social worker at New York's Vera Institute of Justice, and an American and Canadian semi-professional football player before receiving his calling as an actor. A stand-up comic on the Greenwich Village circuit, the work eventually took him West and, ultimately, led to his hiring as a staff writer on Leslie Uggams' musical variety show in 1969. Making his legit stage debut in a 1971 L.A. production of the comedy "Norman, Is That You?", John went on to earn a Los Angeles Drama Critics nomination for "Best Actor". As such, he formed his own theater company and produced "Norman, Is That You?" on tour.

The following year he returned to New York to take his first Broadway bow in "Tough To Get Help". By this time he had secured secondary work on the classic Mary Tyler Moore (1970) as Gordy the weatherman. His character remained on the periphery, however, and he left the show after three discouraging seasons. On the bright side, he won the recurring role of the sporadically-unemployed husband of maid Florida Evans (played by Esther Rolle) on Norman Lear's Maude (1972) starring Bea Arthur. The two characters were spun-off into their own popular series as the parental leads in Good Times (1974).

Good Times (1974), a family sitcom that took place in a Chicago ghetto high-rise, initially prided itself as being the first network series ever to be created by African-Americans. But subsequent episodes were taken over by others and John was increasingly disgruntled by the lack of quality of the scripts and the direction Lear was taking the show. Once focused on the importance of family values, it was shifting more and more toward the silly antics of Jimmie Walker, who was becoming a runaway hit on the show as the aimless, egotistical, jive-talking teenage son JJ. John began frequently clashing with the higher-ups and, by 1976, was released from the series, with his character being killed in an off-camera car accident while finding employment out of state.

Amos rebounded quickly when he won the Emmy-nominated role of the adult Kunte Kinte in the ground-breaking epic mini-series Roots (1977), one of the most powerful and reverential TV features ever to hit television. It was THE TV role of his career, but he found other quality roles for other black actors extremely difficult to come by. He tried his best to avoid the dim-headed lugs and crime-motivated characters that came his way. Along with a few parts (the mini-movie Willa (1979) and the films The Beastmaster (1982) and Coming to America (1988)), he had to endure the mediocre (guest spots on "Love Boat", "The A-Team", "Murder, She Wrote" "One Life to Live"). John also toiled through a number of action-themed films that focused more on grit and testosterone than talent.

He found one answer to this acting dilemma on the proscenium stage. In 1985, the play "Split Second" earned him the NAACP Award as Best Actor. He also received fine reviews in a Berkshire Theater festival production of "The Boys Next Door", a tour of O'Neill's towering play "The Emperor Jones", and in a Detroit production of Athol Fugard's "Master Harold...and The Boys". In addition, John directed two well-received productions, "Miss Reardon Drinks a Little" and "Twelve Angry Men", in the Bahamas. He took on Shakespeare as Sir Toby Belch in "Twelfth Night" at Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare and earned strong notices in the late August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play "Fences" at the Capital Repertory Company in Albany, New York. Overseas he received plaudits for his appearance in a heralded production of "The Life and Death of a Buffalo Soldier" at the Bristol's Old Vic in England. Capping his theatrical career was the 1990 inaugural of his one-man show "Halley's Comet", an amusing and humanistic American journey into the life of an 87-year-old who recalls, among other things, World War II, the golden age of radio, the early civil rights movement, and the sighting of the Comet when he was 11. He wrote and has frequently directed the show, which continues to play into the 2007-2008 season.

In recent years, John has enjoyed recurring parts on "The West Wing" and "The District", and is more recently appearing in the offbeat series Men in Trees (2006) starring Anne Heche. John Amos has two children by his former wife Noel Amos and two children. Son K.C. Amos director, writer, producer, editor and daughter Shannon Amos a director, writer and producer. Amos has one grand child,a grand-daughter, Quiera Williams.

Actor ( 105 credits )

Hauntsville (2016) Mr. Kimball
Tamales and Gumbo (2015) The Patron
Mercy for Angels (2015) God
Bad Ass 3: Bad Asses on the Bayou (2015) Earl
The Seventies (2015)  Himself - Actor, 'Good Times' (1 episode, 2015)
Nubbin & Friends (2015)  Mr. Johnson (1 episode, 2016)
The Nicole Barrett Show (2014)  Himself (1 episode, 2015)
Janet Russell Presents STAR POWER (2014)  Himself (1 episode, 2015)
Madea's Witness Protection (2012) Pastor Nelson
Zombie Hamlet (2012) Edgar Mortimer
NYC 22 (2012)  Pappy Science (1 episode, 2012)
Perfect Sunday (2010) Slick
Stills of the Movement: The Civil Rights Photojournalism of Flip Schulke (2009) Himself - Host / Narrator
Royal Pains (2009)  Harrison Phillips (1 episode, 2010)
Lie to Me (2009)  Jim Weaver (1 episode, 2010)
Life After (2009)  Himself (1 episode, 2012)
The Mo'Nique Show (2009)  Himself (1 episode, 2010)
Ascension Day (2007) Henry
The Bob Show (2007) (1 episode, 2012)
Psych (2006)  Uncle Burton Guster (1 episode, 2007)
30 Rock (2006)  John Amos (1 episode, 2010)
Men in Trees (2006)  Buzz Washington (27 episodes, 2006-2008)
Boy s tenyu (2005) Hill
My Name Is Earl (2005)  Joe (1 episode, 2008)
TV Land Confidential (2005)  Himself / ... (4 episodes, 2005-2007)
Countdown (2004) Admiral Melory
My Baby's Daddy (2004) Uncle Virgil
Tavis Smiley (2004)  Himself (1 episode, 2006)
The Watermelon Heist (2003) Old Man Amos
Two and a Half Men (2003)  Ed (3 episodes, 2010)
I Love the '80s Strikes Back (2003)  Himself (unknown episodes)
I Love the '70s (2003)  Himself (2 episodes, 2003)
All About the Andersons (2003)  Joe Anderson (16 episodes, 2003-2004)
All Over Again (2001) Coach Zeller
The District (2000)  Mayor Ethan Baker (10 episodes, 2000-2001)
The West Wing (1999)  Percy Fitzwallace (21 episodes, 1999-2004)
The Players Club (1998) Freeman
Sports Theater with Shaquille O'Neal (1998) (1 episode, 1998)
King of the Hill (1997)  Glen Johnson (1 episode, 1998)
The Chris Rock Show (1997)  Himself (1 episode, 1997)
A Woman Like That (1997)
E! True Hollywood Story (1996)  Himself (archive footage) (1 episode, 2000)
For Better or Worse (1995) Gray
The Outer Limits (1995)  Peter 'Yas' Yastrzemski (1 episode, 2000)
In the House (1995)  Coach Sam Wilson (11 episodes, 1995-1997)
Touched by an Angel (1994)  James Mackey (1 episode, 1995)
704 Hauser (1994)  Ernie Cumberbatch (6 episodes, 1994)
Extra (1994)  Himself - Good Times (1 episode, 2015)
Night Trap (1993) Capt. Hodges
Walker, Texas Ranger (1993)  Pastor Roscoe Jones (1 episode, 1997)
The Black Cat (1993)
Mac (1992) Nat
Martin (1992)  Sgt. Strawn (1 episode, 1997)
Without a Pass (1991) Blue Berry
Ricochet (1991) Reverend Styles
Two Evil Eyes (1990) Det. Legrand (segment "The Black Cat")
Die Hard 2 (1990) Maj. Grant
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990)  Fred Wilkes (4 episodes, 1994-1995)
The Howard Stern Show (1990)  Himself (1 episode, 1990)
Lock Up (1989) Captain Meissner
The Arsenio Hall Show (1989)  Himself (1 episode, 1990)
Gideon Oliver (1989)  Carl Manning (1 episode, 1989)
Coming to America (1988) Cleo McDowell
Live with Kelly and Michael (1988)  Himself (1 episode, 1989)
American Flyers (1985) Dr. Conrad
American Masters (1985)  Dr. Bledsoe (1 episode, 2002)
Stingray (1985)  Roy Jeffries (1 episode, 1987)
The Cosby Show (1984)  Dr. Herbert (1 episode, 1988)
Murder, She Wrote (1984)  Doc Penrose (1 episode, 1987)
Hunter (1984)  Captain Dolan (13 episodes, 1984-1985)
You Are the Jury (1984)  Sergeant Harold Borman (1 episode, 1987)
Dance of the Dwarfs (1983) Esteban
The A-Team (1983)  Reverend Taylor (1 episode, 1984)
Hardcastle and McCormick (1983)  Albie Meadows (1 episode, 1984)
The Beastmaster (1982) Seth
Ebony/Jet Showcase (1982)  Himself (1 episode, 1989)
Touched by Love (1980) Tony
Here's Boomer (1980)  Foster (1 episode, 1981)
Trapper John, M.D. (1979)  Ins. Roland Hackett (1 episode, 1984)
Mr. Dugan (1979)  Rep. Dooley
The Love Boat (1977)  Duke Taylor (1 episode, 1983)
Future Cop (1976)  Officer Bill Bundy (6 episodes, 1976-1977)
Let's Do It Again (1975) Kansas City Mack
Good Morning America (1975)  Himself (1 episode, 1977)
Good Times (1974)  James Evans, Sr. (61 episodes, 1974-1976)
Tony Orlando and Dawn (1974)  Himself (1 episode, 1975)
Dinah! (1974)  Himself (6 episodes, 1975-1976)
The World's Greatest Athlete (1973) Coach Sam Archer
Police Story (1973)  Walt Kyles (1 episode, 1976)
Sanford and Son (1972)  Luther (1 episode, 1973)
Maude (1972)  Henry Evans (3 episodes, 1973-1974)
Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song (1971) Biker (as Johnny Amos)
Vanishing Point (1971) Super Soul's Engineer (uncredited)
The New Dick Van Dyke Show (1971)  Mark Cooper (1 episode, 1972)
The Funny Side (1971)  Minority Husband (unknown episodes)
Information Processing (1971)
Mary Tyler Moore (1970)  Gordy Howard / ... (14 episodes, 1970-1977)
Love, American Style (1969)  (segment "Love and the Split-Up") / ... (2 episodes, 1
The Bill Cosby Show (1969)  1st Salesman (1 episode, 1970)
One Life to Live (1968)  Detective Johnson (1987-1988) (unknown episodes)
The Hollywood Squares (1965)  Guest Appearance (3 episodes, 1974-1978)
Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (1954)  Coach Sam Archer (2 episodes, 1983)
Farewell Party (0) Moses
Devotion (0) Big Jim
Capture the Flag (0) Clinton

Producer ( 2 credits )

Althea (2014) executive producer
Zombie Hamlet (2012) co-producer