Jimmie Walker (born James Carter Walker Jr. on June 25, 1947 in The Bronx, NY) is an African-American Actor and Comedian. He is best known to TV audiences as the wise-cracking James "J.J." Evans Jr. on the classic CBS sitcom Good Times from 1974-1979. He has appeared as a semi-regular panelist on both Match Game throughout the 1970s and the 1990s revival.
Native in The Bronx, New York. He attended Theodore Roosevelt High School in New York City. Through a federal program known as SEEK, or "Search for Education, Evaluation, and Knowledge," he continued his studies and entered into the field of radio engineering with WRVR. As a young man, Walker was working as a vendor at Yankee Stadium, starting with the 1964 World Series. He was given a silver dollar by Mickey Mantle, which he still has. In 1967, Jimmie began working full-time with WRVR, the radio station of the Riverside Church. In the mid-70's, he was also a weekend personality on contemporary R&B music station KAGB 103.9 FM licensed to Inglewood in the Los Angeles market.
In 1969, Walker began performing in the field that he is best known for: stand-up comedy. It was there where he began to be noticed by TV casting directors and landing appearance on the comedy sketch shows Rowan & Martin's Laugh In and The Jack Paar Show. Walker's many appearances on the comedy circuit led him to be discovered by the casting director for a new African-American sitcom on the CBS Network.
This African-American sitcom was titled Good Times, which was a spin-off of the CBS sitcom Maude starring Bea Arthur. The new series was originally made for a vehicle for Esther Rolle, who first appeared as family matriarch Florida Evans on Maude as well as for John Amos, whom also appeared alongside Rolle on Maude (Amos' character was originally named Henry on Maude but changed to James on Good Times) Jimmie was casted as the eldest son of Florida and James Evans Sr. The character of James "J.J." Evans Jr. was 17 years old and Walker was 26 years of age and was only 8 years younger than John Amos, who was 34 when the show began.
Good Times premiered on February 8, 1974 on CBS and in the series premiere episode, Walker's character coined the catchphrase "Dy-no-mite !" which he credits producer/director John Rich for inventing it. Rich had insisted that Walker say the catchphrase on every episode but both Jimmie and executive producer Norman Lear were skeptical of the idea, but the catchphrase and the increasing popularity of Walker's character quickly became an immediate hit with TV audiences and as a result of the character's popularity, writers focused more on J.J.'s comedic antics instead of serious issues which Esther Rolle and John Amos wanted the show to focus on.
As the second and third seasons of Good Times progressed, Rolle and Amos grew increasingly frustrated with the direction the show was taking, especially with J.J.'s antics and stereotypically buffoonish behavior and both were very vocal about their disapproval of the increasing popularity of Walker's character. Esther Rolle once gave an interview in Ebony magazine where she was quoted saying: "He's 18 and he doesn't work. He can't read or write. He doesn't think. The show didn't start out to be that...Little by little—with the help of the artist, I suppose, because they couldn't do that to me—they have made J.J. more stupid and enlarged the role. Negative images have been slipped in on us through the character of the oldest child".
John Amos at one point was quoted saying: "The writers would prefer to put a chicken hat on J.J. and have him prance around saying "DY-NO-MITE", and that way they could waste a few minutes and not have to write meaningful dialogue". Amos was ultimately fired from the show after the third season after serious disagreements with executive producer Norman Lear as the character of James Evans Sr. was killed off in the beginning of the fourth season in the two-part episode "The Big Move" with a memorable ending with Rolle's character of Florida finally breaking down as she smashes a glass bowl and crying out "DAMN DAMN DAMN !!!!" as the Evans children rush out to console her. After the fourth season drew to a close, Esther Rolle decided that she too had enough and exited the show, she did however agreed to return during the show's sixth and final season after the producers agreed to a number of her demands, the biggest one being turning Jimmie's character into a more, responsible adult as she felt the character of J.J was a poor role model for African American youths. Good Times ended it's run on CBS on August 1, 1979.
During the height of his Good Times popularity, Jimmie released one stand-up comedy album : Dyn-o-mite on Buddah Records. Also during the six year run on Good Times, Walker was a frequent guest on The Tonight Show and as a semi-regular panelist on the CBS classic Game Show Match Game, he always sat in the first seat on the upper tier. He also appeared as a panelist of all the Match Game revivals except for the 1998-1999 revival.
Walker has made a string of guest appearances on various TV shows such as Badge 373, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, The Larry Sanders Show, The Drew Carey Show, In the House, Cagney & Lacey, Everybody Hates Chris, and George Lopez. He also appeared in films such as The Concorde ... Airport '79, Airplane!, and appeared in the 1975 film Let's Do it Again alongside his Good Times co-star John Amos.
Although it has been reported that Jimmie was once married to former actress Jere Fields and no children during the marriage, he has come out and stated that he has never married. In 2012, he shocked very many and even made headlines after an appearance on The O' Reilly Factor where he revealed that he did not vote for Barack Obama and that he would not vote for him in the 2012 election either. Walker described himself politically as a "realist independent" and stated that he opposed affirmative action, saying that it had outlived its usefulness. He also stated that he was against same-sex marriage on moral grounds but believed legislation for its legalization should be passed, stating it was not worth fighting against.
He described his political beliefs at length in his autobiography, Dyn-O-Mite: Good Times, Bad Times, Our Times: A Memoir, calling himself a "logicist," who believes in "logic and common sense." He holds typical conservative positions on the death penalty, the size of government and capitalism. However, Walker is in favor of amnesty for the children of illegal immigrants and a system of universal health care for the United States.