November 5, 2020
Remember when Family Matters’ Judy Winslow went upstairs never to return?
How could we forget Florida Evans’ response when James Evans passed away on Good Times — “damn, damn, damn.”
And, we all remember when dark skin Aunt Viv became light skin Aunt Viv on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Some of the most shocking iconic moments from Black TV sitcoms often left us only to speculate what happened to the character — or in Family Matters’ case, what happened to Judy?
Jamiee Foxworth played Judy, the Winslow clan’s youngest sister, until her character mysteriously disappeared in the series’ fourth season. The show’s creator, William Bickley, would later explain that Foxworth was fired from the show due to budgetary considerations.
“I just think that what happened to Jamie Foxworth, who is just a beautiful…multi-talented individual…I think it was just a casualty of war, and all is fair in war,” he said.
McCrary began his acting career in 1987 at the age of 11 on the film Big Shots. He’d later go on to star in the movie Mississippi Burning before landing a short stint on the sitcom Designing Women, a role in which he could relate to Foxworth’s experience since he too was fired from the show.
“I, myself, have been fired from a gig,” McCrary said, explaining that he was fired because he couldn’t grasp working on a multi-camera set, something he thought should’ve been the responsibility of the director to explain to the then-child actor.
“There are just certain things that unless you’re a seasoned veteran, you’re not going to know [as a kid],” he continued about the incident, “…and you depend on your director to give you the direction. And as a director, he fired me as a kid. It broke my heart.”
Coincidentally — in the small world of Black Hollywood — the person who’d replace McCrary on the show, Shavar Ross, later ended up playing McCrary’s friend, Weasel, on Family Matters.
With a career that spans as long as McCrary’s career, much can be said about what he’s experienced and witnessed in the industry — particularly in Foxworth’s case.
Ironically, Foxworth wasn’t the first actress to play the Judy Winslow role. Valerie Jones played Judy in the pilot episode but she’d be replaced by Foxworth.
“Whatever happened [with Foxworth], whatever took place, it just didn’t work for the producers,” he continued. “In this game, it’s not about what works for you as a talent. It’s about what works for the producers…This industry is not our game. If you look at yourself as a fish in an aquarium, you’ll be able to swim a whole lot easier.”
McCrary added that Foxworth’s removal from the show, at the time, “was like losing a family member.” But today, he remains close to the former child star and her family.