When Norman Lear, Mike Evans, and Eric Monte were first developing this show, it was not a spin off of "Maude" (1972) (itself a spin-off of "All in the Family" (1971)). Later, they decided to cast Esther Rolle and `John Amos (I)` as the leads and promote the show as a spin off featuring Florida Evans and her family. The originally chosen family name was changed to Evans and the wife/mother`s first name to Florida, but those of the other characters were left unchanged. It was nothing but coincidence that the younger son`s name thus became the same as co-creator Mike Evans`. Two huge contradictions with "Maude" - that John Amos`s character there was a Tuchahoe, N.Y., fire fighter named Henry who insisted that his wife cease demeaning herself and quit her job as a servant to a white family when he received a hefty raise as part of a promotion and they no longer needed that additional income, while here he was a man named James who was unemployed and had been for a significant amount of time; and that the characters here live in Chicago, Illinois, projects rather than the aforementioned New York suburb and repeatedly indicate that they have done so for many years - reveal that this series does not genuinely qualify as a spin-off of "Maude".
John Amos was fired from the series after the third season after comments he made about the backstage fights in an interview. His character was one of the first comedy sitcom characters to ever be killed off.
The first African American family sitcom.
During the first three seasons that John Amos was with the show, the closing credits showed a portrait of the Evans family painted by J.J. After Amos was killed off, a mural that J.J. painted for the local bank was shown. During the final season, a painting of the cast was shown during the opening credits and it morphed into a live shot of the cast.
Jimmie Walker`s expression "DY-NO-MITE!" became a mid-1970s catchphrase. It was ranked #14 in TV Guide`s list of "TV`s 20 Top Catchphrases" [21-27 August 2005 issue].
In later years, J.J.`s catchphrase was changed from "Dy-no-mite" to "You know, what can I say?"
J.J.`s nickname for himself was "The Ebony Prince".
Willona`s pet name for Michael was "Gramps".
J.J.`s nickname for Michael was "Miguel".
John Amos`s character was named Henry when he would appear on "Maude" (1972)
# Jimmie Walker was only seven and a half years younger than John Amos who played his father. Although James and Florida were supposed to be close in age, Amos was 19 years younger than Esther Rolle.
Esther Rolle is 25 years older than Ja`net DuBois, although they supposed to be the same age on the show.
# Among J.J.`s many girlfriends, the ones that were mentioned the most were Henrietta, "Boom Boom" Belinda, Francine "The Furnace" and Samantha "the Human Panther". Henrietta played by Tina Andrews and Samantha played by Debbi Morgan were the only ones that appeared on-screen
Wanda (Helen Martin) was often referred to as "Weeping Wanda".
Penny`s real first name was Millicent. The name "Penny" derived from the word "cent" in her name.
Florida had four sisters and one brother. However, the only one of her siblings that ever appeared on the show was her brother Wilbert, who was played by Louis Gossett Jr..
Esther Rolle left the after the 1976-1977 season due to her displeasure with the what she saw as the character of J.J. being a bad role model for young blacks. She returned at the beginning of the 1978-1979 season after the producers guaranteed that they would make J.J. a more respectable character.
At the end of the 1976-1977 season, Florida was written out by having her marry the character of Carl Dixon. However, when she returned, Carl was nowhere to be seen and was never mentioned again.
The name of the comic book character that J.J. created, using Thelma`s likeness was "Dyno Woman".
J.J.`s favorite drink was always Kool-Aid.
James always referred to his daughter, Thelma as "Baby Girl".
James`s nickname for Michael was "The Militant Midget".
During the first season, J.J. would answer the phone by saying "Heloooooooo", but in later years he would answer it by saying "Cello".
During the series, Bookman was often referred to as "Buffalo Butt", although Willona called him "Booger".
The name of the gang that J.J. was briefly a member of was the Satan`s Knights. Michael was also briefly a gang member when he was forced into joining the Junior Warlords.
The name of the school that Keith attended was never mentioned.
Jimmie Walker based his character`s mannerisms on Art Carney`s character on "The Honeymooners" (1955)
The theme song was sung by Motown artists James Gilstrap and Blinky Williams. Quincy Jones sang the original demo for the song.
The setting for the show was implied to be the Cabrini Green Housing Projects on Chicago`s North Side. Exterior shots of the buildings are featured in the opening and closing credits but the name was never stated on the show. Today (March 2007), Cabrini Green as well as all Chicago`s housing developments are in the midst of demolition and are being replaced with mixed income residences and single family homes.
# Even though the series was set in the apartment projects in Chicago`s South Side, the front door of the Evans apartment was seemingly never locked, since people just walked in without knocking.
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