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 African Americans

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J. J. STARBUCK/NBC/1987-88
*(Ben Vereen/costar) E. L. Turner, aka "Tenspeed" a black ex-con hustler who became the sidekick (in February 1988) of Jerome Jeremiah Starbuck, a white San Antonio billionaire. The Tenspeed character originally appeared on the 1980 detective drama TENSPEED AND BROWN SHOE.

**(Eddie Anderson) Rochester, the raspy-voiced valet to comedian Jack Benny, "the cheapest man in the world". In April 1937, Jack Benny needed a Pullman porter for a single appearance on his radio program. He hired vaudeville/movie performer Eddie Anderson and the writers gave him the name Rochester Van Jones. His immediate popularity guaranteed his success for the next twenty plus years as a reliable fixture of Benny's act. During a 1950's episode, Jack Benny recalled the first time that he met Rochester. It seems that Jack Benny crashed into a cab owned by Amos Jones and Andy Brown of the Sunshine Cab Company (it was up on a grease rack at the time). In an attempt to get out of paying any compensation for the accident, both Amos and Andy convinced Jack that he needed a valet and left their driver Rochester with him. The rest is history. Anderson quit Benny after having a heart attack while rehearsing for THE JACK BENNY SHOW in the late 1950's. He died 2/28/77.

*(Jackée) Sandra Clark, the sassy, man-chasing black female from comedy series 221 who left Washington, D.C. to become an assistant manager at a health club in New York City. The series was short-lived.

**(Michael Boatman) Grant Watson, black comedy writer and part of a team of writers for the mythical "Jackie Thomas Show," America's top-rated comedy series, about a white butcher.

*(Jackson Five) The Jackson Five, a black rock group, was the focus of these fictional stories about the adventures of these talented pop singers. Jackson Brothers Michael, Marlon, Jackie, Tito and Jermaine provided the voices on this Saturday morning cartoon series.

*(The Jackson Family) The Jackson Family, popular black singers/entertainers from Gary, Indiana (reportedly discovered in 1968 by black song stress Diana Ross) were the stars of this musical variety that featured the singing talents of brothers Jackie, Marlon, Tito, Michael, Randy, and sisters Maureen (Rebie), LaToya, and Janet.

JAMES AT 15/NBC/1977-78
**(David Hubbard) "Sly" Ludwig Hazeltine, a hip, jive-talking black teenager who befriended James Hunter, a white teenager who recently moved from Oregon to Boston.

*(Jamie Foxx) Jamie King, an aspiring black stand-up comedian who heads to Los Angeles to work in the King's Tower Hotel owned by his Aunt Helen King (Ellia English) and his gambler Uncle Junior King (Garrett Morris). In between his hotels duties, Jamie performs his comedy routines in the hotel lounge. Also featured were Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon as gorgeous front-desk clerk Francesca "Fancy" Monroe; Christopher B. Duncan as straight-arrow hotel accountant Braxton P. Hartnabrig; and Andy Mark Berman as Bellman.

*(Sherman Hemsley/costar) George Jefferson, a hot-tempered owner of a chain of New York dry cleaning stores, who lived in a high-rise apartment with his ever-tolerant wife, Louise "Weezie" played by Isabel Sanford. George's favorite hobby was making money and insulting people. He referred to white people as “honkies.” Other cast members were Mike Evans (later Damon Evans) as their son, Lionel; Zara Cully as George's doting mother, Mother Olivia Jefferson; Franklin Cover as their "honky" white neighbor Tom Willis; Helen Willis, Tom's black wife; (Tom & Helen were the first racially mixed married couple featured in primetime); Berlinda Tolbert as Jenny Willis, their daughter; and Marla Gibbs as the Jefferson's outspoken maid, Florence Johnston. In 1980 Lionel & Jenny's baby girl (Jessica) is born. Unfortunately, Lionel & Jenny separated in 1981. In 1984 Ebonie Smith joined the cast as Jessica, Lionel and Jenny's now school-age daughter. The Jefferson characters began on ALL IN THE FAMILY/CBS/1971-75 where they lived on Houser Street in Queens next store to a blue-collar bigot, Archie Bunker.

**(Darryl Thierse) Kurt, super-efficient, imperious black nurse who proves to be the nemesis of the title character (Jesse) as they work together at a local clinic in Buffalo, New York. Darryl Thierse was born and raised in Hempstead, N.Y. before receiving his bachelor of arts diploma from Brown University and a master of fine arts in theater..

*(Jesse Jackson) Jesse Jackson, black political activist and Reverend who moderated this syndicated weekly talk show that discussed topics on political and social significance. He previously starred on another CNN produced program BOTH SIDES WITH JESSE JACKSON.

**(John Marshall Jones) Ray Wharton, black effete chef working at a restaurant owned by Italian-American Stan Gennaro, whose brother Joe Gennaro helps out as a chef in the evenings.

**(Chi McBride) Heavy Gene, a philosophical black janitor working the late shift at the Crossroads, a run-down bus terminal in St. Louis. Also featured was Daryl "Chill" Mitchell as Dexter Walker, a fellow employee who ran the station's lunch counter and didn't especially like white folk; and Jimmy Walker as Dexter's estranged father.

*(Arjay Smith) Allen Strange, a Xelan alien who takes on the form of a black youth as he struggles to acclimate to Earth with the help of two white children.

*(Diahann Carroll) Julia Baker, a widowed black nurse (Air Force pilot husband killed in Vietnam) who spent her time between working at a medical office at a Los Angeles industrial clinic and raising her young son, Corey (played by Marc Copage). Diahann Carroll was the first black female to star in her own comedy series (one devoid of stereotypical overtones). Also featured were Paul Winfield as Paul Cameron, Julia boyfriend (1969-70); Fred Williamson as Julie's widower boyfriend, Steve Bruce (1970-71); and Eugene Jackson as Julia's Uncle Lou.

Julia: [on the telephone] I’m colored. I’m a Negro.
Dr. Chegley: Have you always been a Negro, or are you just trying to be fashionable?

*(T. K. Carter/costar) Shabu, a hip, black genie-in-a-bottle with a bent toward practical jokes who was discovered by a young, white TV reporter. According to T. K. Carter "Shabu doesn't have a master because he doesn't believe in master....I made it clear that I won't do that jive routine, acting like some cat in a black El Dorado, drinking a Kool-Aid daiquiri with a hat as big as a house....When Shabu pops out of the bottle, he's wearing a Bill Blass raw silk suit. You're not going to see me wearing a lot of jewelry and stuff." After the program aired, The NAACP intervened with the show's development insisting on such changes as the concept of "Master" and "servant" being dropped; the inclusion of additional black script writers and an extra black actor to appear on the cast, namely, Leonard Simon as Jim Dexter. Despite all the efforts to make this show click, the series was canceled after eleven episodes.

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