Johnny Brown, known for his role as the housing project superintendent Nathan Bookman on the television show Good Times, died March 2. He was 84.
Born June 11, 1937, in St. Petersburg, Florida, Mr. Brown was raised in Harlem. Following a winning set at an Apollo Theater amateur night, he performed on the nightclub circuit with legendary tap dancer Gregory Hines, Jr. and his father Gregory Hines, Sr.
Sammy Davis, Jr. became a mentor to Mr. Brown, bringing him in as an understudy for Godfrey Cambridge on Broadway in Golden Boy. When Cambridge was fired prior to opening, Mr. Brown took over in the role of Ronnie, performing the show-stopping number “Don’t Forget 127th Street." Mr. Brown also appeared on Broadway in 1968 in Carry Me Back to Morningside Heights, directed by Sidney Poitier.
Mr. Brown came to Los Angeles at Neil Simon's request, playing a train waiter in The Out of Towners. That role led to him joining The Leslie Uggams Show, and his permanent relocation to California. In 1975, he was cast as Nathan Brookman on the hit television show Good Times, which catapulted him into the sitcom stratosphere. Mr. Brown appeared on television shows such as Julia, Maude, The Rookies, Lotsa Luck!, The Jeffersons, Archie Bunker’s Place, Family Matters, Sister, Sister, Moonlighting, and Martin, and in such films as The Wiz, Poitier’s Hanky Panky, Life, and Town & Country.
Mr. Brown is survived by his wife of 61 years, June, and their two children, Sharon and John Jr.