The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
|Jimmie “J.J.” Walker will take the stage on Sept. 6|
Jimmie “J.J.” Walker became a household name with his catch phrase “Dyn-o-mite” in the 1970s.
Friday, September 5, 2014
Comedian Jimmie "J.J." Walker will perform at the Harvester Center in Rocky Mount on Saturday, Sept. 6 at 8 p.m.
Rising from the streets of New York's ghettos to superstardom in the 1970s, the "Good Times" television star personifies the great American success story.
His catch phrase "Dyn-o-mite!" is part of the modern vernacular, and he became such a major celebrity in the 1970s that Time Magazine named him "Comedian of the Decade."
Walker was born on June 25, 1947, on the streets of New York's South Bronx.
By 1969, Walker was on stage at the African Room in Manhattan, along with a few other up-and-coming talents, including Bette Midler, David Brenner and Steve Landesberg. Brenner was the first to get his big break and then helped Walker and the others, moving them all to Budd Friedman's Improv in New York where they occasionally got some valuable stage time.
Brenner and his "disciples" soon turned into crowd favorites and became regulars onstage. To top it all off, Walker spent a year as the youngest MC in the history of the world famous Apollo Theater in Harlem.
In those early days, doing "The Tonight Show" was a direct line to the Big Time. Brenner made it first, followed by Landesberg, Midler and Freddie Prinze, but by 1972, Jimmie still hadn't landed that big break. Then Brenner, Landesberg and Midler, scheduled for the "Jack Paar Show," refused to appear unless Walker was also given a spot. The Paar staff gave in and Walker's first guest shot drew the attention of Dan Rowan, who immediately flew Walker to Los Angeles to guest on a "Laugh In" special.
The series of successes gave Walker the confidence to give up his day job, and in 1972, he was working as the main attraction in all the top comedy clubs. His soaring popularity prompted Time to name him "Comedian of the Decade."
Spotted by the casting director for Norman Lear of "All in the Family" fame, Walker accepted a part in Lear's new urban-styled comedy series "Good Times." The role of the broadly strutting, wisecracking J.J. Evans would launch him into television superstardom. "Dyn-o-mite!" was the phrase that made him famous nationwide.
As "Good Times" enjoyed a six year run, Walker's fame grew exponentially. He was the first winner of the NAACP Image Award, and he won a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. He appeared on The Mac Davis Show, Donny and Marie, The John Davidson Show, The Merv Griffin Show, Dinah, The Mike Douglas Show, The Hollywood Squares, and the Match Game.
Clothing, tee-shirts and even a talking doll that blurted out his signature catch phrase were soon on store shelves everywhere.
Even with his demanding schedule, Walker continued to appear as the headliner at top comedy clubs, including the famous Comedy Store in Los Angeles. His joke writing team included a young David Letterman, Jay Leno and Byron Allen.
Walker's television work would lead to movie roles, like boxer Bootney Farnsworth in "Let's Do it Again," co-starring with entertainment luminaries Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby. Walker also released a smash comedy album, "Dyn-o-mite!" that went gold.
When "Good Times" ended in 1979, Aaron Spelling offered Walker a starring role in the short-lived "B.A.D. Cats" and returned to cast him again in 1983 in "At Ease," an ABC series about a bunch of United States Army misfits.
He also landed choice roles in films, like "Airplane!" and "Airport '79," and was a regular on television shows, like "The Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island." In recent years he's made scene-stealing appearances on "The George Lopez Show," "Everybody Hates Chris" with Chris Rock and "Scrubs."
Walker currently tours the country 35 to 45 weeks a year for live performances and guest appearances on game shows and late night television. In his spare time he writes scripts for TV and movies, and continues to enjoy a comedy career now approaching five decades.
Tickets for Saturday's show are $20 in advance and $25 the day of the show. Doors open at 7 p.m.