Childhood & Early Life
Jimmie Walker was born James Carter Walker Jr., in The Bronx, New York City, to James Carter Walker sr. and Lorena Walker, on June 25, 1947. He lived in a black neighbourhood. His father was a Pullman porter while his mother worked in odd jobs, and eventually became head of the nursing department in a local hospital.
However, his childhood was not as comfortable as it looked from outside, given the stable financial condition of the family. His father used to severely assault her mother. She often showed up to work with broken bones and jaws. She, however, never even complained to the police about her husband’s violent behaviour.
Interestingly, the television comedy shows featuring black main characters were on the rise while he was growing up. Jimmie got hooked to acting and decided to become an actor. He was also known for his impeccable sense of humor.
As a teenager, he was obsessed with playing basketball, but he was too thin and never quite too good at the game. Hence, he was always sceptical about his future in professional basketball.
Frustrated by the atmosphere at home and a muddled future, he decided to quit school and started working in odd jobs. He worked as a vendor at the ‘Yankee Stadium’ in New York during that time, but he soon realized the value of education and decided to carry on with his academics; he attended night classes at the ‘Theodore Roosevelt High School.’
He developed interest in radio engineering and enrolled into the ‘SEEK’ program, run by the government for the minorities. He received training in radio engineering and announcing. After completing his program, he began working in the radio industry.
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Soon after he got out of the institute, he got a job at a local radio station, as a radio engineer. Although he was good at what he did, he realised that he was better as an announcer and writer.
In 1967, he began working at the ‘WRVR Radio Station’ of the Riverside Church. Working in the radio industry he realized that comedy offered a great career potential. In the late 1960s, he began organizing his stand-up comedy routines and slowly became famous.
He eventually made television appearances as a comedian and was noticed by the casting director of the comedy series ‘Good Times.’
The sitcom began airing in 1974 and became an immediate hit. Around that time, the sitcoms featuring all black casts were very popular and ‘Good Times’ made the best out of the trend. Jimmie played one of the lead roles as ‘James ‘J.J.’ Evans Jr.’ His character of a quirky and eccentric young man became popular with the masses.
For his performance in the series, Jimmie won a ‘Golden Globe’ nomination for the ‘Best Supporting Actor In A Television Series,’ in 1975 and 1976. He became a household name and also became known for popularizing the phrase ‘Dy-no-mite!’ The series turned out to be one of the biggest hits of the decade and ran for 6 seasons and 133 episodes.
In 1975, he made his film debut in the action comedy film ‘Let’s Do It Again.’ Also starring Bill Cosby in one of the leading roles, the film became a huge critical and commercial success. While it picked up slowly on the box office, it was a huge success when released on home video.
He then appeared in a supporting role in the comedy film ‘Rabbit Test.’ The film received bad reviews, but proved a success at the box office, earning $12 million.
He remained busy with ‘Good Times’ throughout the 1970s, and began the 1980s in a small role in the film ‘Airplane!’ The film turned out to be a huge success critically and commercially.
In the early 1980s, he played guest roles in series’ such as ‘Today’s FBI’ and ‘Fantasy Island.’ Thereafter he appeared in a guest role in the episode ‘Chop Shop’ of the series ‘Cagney & Lacey.’
In 1983, he appeared in the lead role in the sitcom ‘At Ease.’ He appeared in 14 episodes of the series, playing the leading role as ‘Sgt. Val Valentine.’ However, despite some initial good ratings, the series was eventually cancelled after 1 season and 14 episodes.
In 1987, Jimmie was seen in the lead role as ‘Sonny Barnes’ in the sitcom ‘Bustin’ Loose.’ It was based on a film of the same name. It was moderately successful and ran for 1 season and 26 episodes.
After ‘Bustin’ Loose,’ he appeared in small roles in a few TV series’ such as ‘Scrubs’ and ‘Space Ghost Coast to Coast.’
As for his film career, he appeared in films such as ‘Big Money Rustlas’ and ‘Super Shark.’
Family & Personal Life
Jimmie Walker mentioned in a 2012 interview that he had never married and had no children, but had many romantic relationships. He did not reveal the names of his girlfriends though.
He claims himself to be a ‘realist independent’ and said that he did not vote for Barack Obama. He, however, openly expressed his support to Donald Trump.