Actor John Allen Amos Jr. is well known for his roles in the TV series Good Times and the miniseries, Roots. He is a famous African-American actor who initially graduated with qualification as a social worker but ended up in Hollywood.

Actor John Amos
Actor John Amos

As of 2020, John Amos net worth is estimated at about $3-5 million. Amos began his entertainment career as a standup comedian before venturing into acting – first in TV series, then in theatre and later movies. Below are some updates on his career and life you shouldn’t miss.

Early Life

John Amos was born on 27 December 1939 in Newark, New Jersey, US. He finished the East Orange High school and continued his education at Long Beach City College. Amos graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in Sociology. During his studies, he was a member of Colorado State Rams Football team.

An Ex-American Footballer

Amos initially started a career as a footballer, although it was short-lived as he was released from training camp. Upon graduation, he’d signed a contract with Denver Broncos, but had problems with pulled hamstring and couldn’t run the 40 yard dash. He continued to play in the United Football League and then in Continental and Atlantic Football Leagues.

In 1967, he signed another contract with an American Football League team. It was Kansas City Chefs. The coach, Hank Stram, actually told Amos that he was not a footballer, but someone who was trying to be. The last team he played for was Victoria Steelers in Continental League, and then he was released from the training camp.

Acting Career

John Amos started his acting career as the weatherman in the “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” in 1970. He then played as James Evans in the sitcoms, Maude and in the spinoff, Good Times. These shows brought him the breakthrough he needed in his career. While featuring in the shows, he appeared also in a McDonald commercial.

John Amos in Good Times

Good Times was the first African-American family sitcom. It had six seasons, and aired from 1974 to 1979. John Amos played in three seasons of the show before he was fired due to disagreements with the executive producer, Norman Lear. So his character was killed in a car accident and the show continued for three more seasons.

Actor John Amos in Good Times
Actor John Amos in Good Times

Amos actually wanted a positive image for the African-American family and he was not happy where the direction of the show was going. An interesting fact about the show is that he was playing a father of 3 at 34 years in real life, 19 years younger than his screen wife, and 8 years older than the actor who played his older son.

His next role was in the Roots, an American miniseries that were based on the novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family, written by Alex Haley in 1976. It received many awards and nomination: 37 Primetime Emmy Award nominations and 9 wins. It also won a Golden Globe Award and a Peabody Award. For his role, Amos was nominated for an Emmy Award.

Other TV Series

Besides Good Times and Roots, Amos starred in many other TV series in later years. He appeared in The West Wing, a political drama TV series, and played as a mayor in the first season of The District crime drama series which started airing in 2000. In 2006, Amos played a pilot in Men in Trees, a romantic comedy series that had two seasons. He was a guest star in The Cosby show, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Two and a half men, Lie to Me, and others.

John Amos On Stage

John Amos made his stage debut in 1971 in the comedy Norman, is that you?. The Los Angeles Drama Critics nominated him for Best actor for his role in the show. He debuted on Broadway in the play Tough to Get help which was staged in New York City. In 1985, Amos played in Split Second and it earned him the NAACP Award for Best actor. While working on stage, he also directed two productions in Bahamas: Twelve Angry Men and Miss Reardon drinks a little.

Amos received good reviews for The boys next door at the Berkshire Theatre Festival. In 1990, the actor started his own theatrical one-man show “Hailey’s Comet”, which became part of the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem in North Carolina. It received good reviews from the critics. The show was about an 87-year-old man reflecting on his past life. Amos wrote the script himself and directed the production.


John Amos’ movie career started in 1973 with a main role in The world’s greatest athlete in which he played the role of a sport coach. In 1975, he played in Let’s do it again alongside Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby. It was a low budget movie with great success at the end.

In 1988, he appeared in the romantic comedy movie, Coming to America, featuring Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, and James Earl Jones amongst other actors. The next year, Amos played with Silvester Stalone in Lock Up but the movie didn’t receive positive reviews by the critics. In 1998, he played in The Players Club, Ice Cube’s directorial debut, who also starred in the movie. It was a success at the Box office.

Amos played in a Russian action movie Countdown in 2004 which was considered as propaganda. However, the next year, he appeared again in another Russian movie, the 4-episodes drama movie Shadowboxing. He played in the movie, Madea’s witness protection in 2012 which didn’t receive good reviews, but was a financial success. Last year Amos played in Uncut Gems, a movie with Adam Sandler in the lead role.

Coming 2 America

This is a sequel to the 1988 romantic comedy, Coming To America, which revolved around Prince Akeem, a pampered prince of a fictitious African country who, urged on by his aide (played by Arsenio Hall), escapees to America to free himself from his father’s wish who was set to impose a wife on him. Amos featured in the movie as Cleo MacDowell, the owner of MacDowells eatery and Akeem’s employer in New York. He is also the father of Akeem’s love interest, Lisa McDowell.

Amos in the Coming to America comedy
Amos in the Coming to America comedy

Amos would be reprising his role as McDowell in the upcoming sequel of the movie which is sheduled for release at the end of this year. Not much details of the movie are available as yet.

Personal Life

John Amos has been married twice. The first time, he married the artist Noel Mickelson in 1965. The marriage lasted 10 years. They have two children. His daughter is Shannon Amos, a producer, writer, and founder of the talent management and production company, Afterglow Multimedia, founded in 2009. His son, Kelly Christopher Amos is a director and actor. Amos is also a grandfather; he has a grandchild from his daughter.

His second marriage lasted only one year. He married the actress Lillian Lehman in 1978. There were rumors that he had one more marriage with Elisabete de Sousa, who worked with him on few occasions as his Spanish and Portuguese interpreter and also was a producer of his theatrical show “Halley’s Comet” in the early 2000’s. But the rumour wasn’t officially confirmed. Amos lives in Tewksbury Township, New Jersey.

Son K. C. Amos and Daughter Shannon Amos

His father’s advice and career success must have inspired K. C. Amos to seek a career also in Hollywood. He is a movie director and producer. In 2003, Amos and his children worked together on their first movie, an urban comedy The Watermelon Heist. K. C. directed the movie, his father played the main role, while his sister was the producer. The last movies that K. C. directed were the comedy drama Tamales and Gumbo in 2015 and the horror movie, Hauntsville in 2016.

Amos with his two children, Shannon and K. C.
Amos with his two children, Shannon and K. C.

Amos was also the biggest inspiration to his daughter, Shannon. His work provided to her a great experience hence, she was able to built a career in writing and producing. She started off as a production assistant but soon became an associate producer. Her talent was recognized early, and she got a chance to work as show creator and director of original programs.

In 2001, Shannon started production of music videos for famous hip hop and R&B artistes, among which were Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Snoop, etc. She has also produced few movies like Blood Diamond, Good Night and Good Luck, and Letters from Iwo Jima. In 2009, Shannon started her own talent management and production company that manages the careers of some YouTubers.

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