Jimmie Walker didn't want people to identify him with his Good Times character
J.J. Evans, played by Jimmie Walker, was the eldest son of Florida and James Evans on Good Times. The show was about the struggles of a family living in poverty in Chicago, but Walker's character often shined the brightest in scenes.
An article in the Knight Newswire described Walker as "quiet, withdrawn and intense," opposite of the energetic teenager he played. He claimed that he was desperately trying to detach himself from that "cartoon character."
"I'm different off the set of Good Times," he told the publication in 1975. "J.J. is the writer's baby; that's not me at all. I don't want people to keep identifying me as J.J. — if Bob Dylan or George Carlin were playing the part, people would respect them as artists, not as the character."
Walker's main goal was to establish himself as a comedian, and the role was significant for exposure. He didn't get excited when his agent told him he got the part. "When you're trying to make it, you're up for everything. You're up for this show or that show. I just said, 'Oh?' and kept working on my [comedy] act," he added.
The actor didn't like talking about Good Times and wasn't concerned with its relevance. "The show is the writers. 90% of the credit for the show's success goes to them. I'm only involved with my act."
Walker needed to stay in front of the public to perfect his style as a stand-up comic, and that's what he cared about, not if Good Times remained in the top 10 ratings.
Fans expected the actor to be as loud and energetic as J.J., but he wasn't. "I'm really anti-social. I've never been a big meeter of people. And I've become more private since the show."
Although he never wanted to be identified as his most-known role, Walker is often called Jimmie "J.J." Walker and could be heard saying his character's signature phrase in commercials today.
Weeknights at 6p ET | 3p PT