March 7, 2022
Photo by: Walt Disney Television Photo Archives/Contributor
Johnny Brown, a musician, comedian and popular actor best remembered for his role on the hit TV sitcom Good Times has died, according to his family. He was 84 years old.
On March 4th, Brown’s daughter, Sharon Catherine Brown, shared the news of his death on Instagram. The cause of Brown’s death is unknown, but she stated in an Instagram post that it came as a “shock” to his family.
“Johnny Brown June 11, 1937 – March 2, 2022… Our family is devastated. Devastated. Devastated. Beyond heartbroken. Barely able to breathe. We respectfully ask for privacy at this time because we need a minute to process the unthinkable,” she wrote.
Brown joined the Good Times cast in 1975 when it was in its second season. He portrayed Nathan Bookman, a construction super who had a tumultuous relationship with the Evans family and their neighbor Wilona, was frequently the brunt of jokes — literally.
He was born in St. Petersburg, Florida, on June 11, 1937, and grew up in Harlem, NY.
After winning an amateur night at The Apollo Theatre, he became a star when he joined a nightclub act with his future wife June, tap dancer Gregory Hines Jr. and drummer Gregory Hines Sr.
In the 1960s, he appeared on Broadway in Golden Boy as the character Ronnie. Brown also appeared in the Broadway play Carry Me Back to Morningside Heights, directed by the late Sidney Poitier.
From 1970 to 1972, Brown also made regular appearances on the NBC show Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In appearing in 52 episodes.
He didn’t like it when his character was mockingly referred to as “Buffalo Butt.”
“Sometimes you can do too much of a thing, and it doesn’t come natural,” Brown said in a 2019 interview. “With everybody [calling Bookman] ‘buffalo butt’ in a scene, it loses something. … They even had Janet [Jackson], who had just come on the show, answering like Mr. Buffalo Butt.”
“And they used it in every show. They used it when I walked in the show, all through the scene. When I left the scene, they used it. I couldn’t say anything because I have a wife and two kids to support. Now at my age, I would have to say something.”
Brown became a regular face on television after Good Times ended, appearing on shows such as Moonlighting, The Wayans Brothers and Everybody Hates Chris, as well as performing voice work for animated shows.
In 2013, he had a role in the rom-com film In Da Cut.
Fans and Hollywood have already begun to pay tribute to the man whose easygoing nature kept them delighted for nearly four decades on social media. Throughout the comment sections of numerous social media platforms, many people echoed “Not Bookman.”
Bern Nadette Stanis, who played Thelma Ann Evans who also played on the sitcom Good Times, said she was “devastated to hear about my good friend Johnny Brown, who played Bookmen on our program ‘Good Times,'” in a statement.
“All the stories about Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and even John Wayne,” she said she will miss. “His talent was beyond measure,” the actress expressed, highlighting the actor’s star status. “He was so much fun to work with. I will certainly miss his bright energy and beautiful smile. In every aspect, I’m praying for his family. My dear friend, may you rest in peace. I’ll miss you terribly.”
Actress Holly Robinson Peete reflected on her experience working with Brown on an episode of Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper.
“So very sad to hear about the passing of Johnny Brown,” she tweeted. I had a the great fortune of doing an episode of #HanginWithMrCooper with him in 1995. When the producers told me he was coming on I was so excited. I was such a big fan… 💔”
His wife June Brown and their two children Sharon Catherine Brown, and Johnny Brown Jr. are among the surviving family members that the 84-year-old left behind.
Our condolences go out to Mr. Johnny Brown’s loved ones at this time.
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