Childhood & Early Life
Timothy was born on December 19, 1944, in Norfolk, Virginia, to Augustine and William Lee Reid. He grew up in the Crestwood area of Norfolk County (now Chesapeake), Virginia. Timothy obtained his bachelor’s degree in business administration from 'Norfolk State College’ in 1968. Following his graduation, Timothy worked for 3 years as one of the first black marketing representatives with 'DuPont Corporation' in Chicago. Timothy was associated with the 'Junior Chamber of Commerce' of Harvey, Illinois, when he met Tom Dreesen, an insurance salesman from Chicago (now a popular actor and comedian).
Timothy and Tom together founded an anti-drug program for the students of Harvey. In 1969, after the two had a session of their anti-drug program, a middle-school student complimented their sense of humor and suggested they become comedians. Timothy and Tom liked the idea and hence formed the comedy duo ‘Tim and Tom.’
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Timothy began his career as part of the duo ‘Tim and Tom.’ The duo was active from 1971 to 1975, after which Tim and Tom disbanded to pursue their respective careers. Their journey, as perhaps the first interracial comedy duo, is chronicled in the book 'Tim & Tom: An American Comedy in Black and White.' In 1976, Timothy had a brief role in the sitcom 'Rhoda.'
From 1977 to 1978, Timothy made guest appearances in TV series such as 'Fernwood 2 Night,' 'The Richard Pryor Show,' 'What's Happening!!,' 'Maude,' and 'ABC Weekend Specials.' Timothy received his breakthrough in the 'CBS' sitcom 'WKRP in Cincinnati,' which featured him in the role of ‘Venus Flytrap’/‘Gordon Sims.’ He has also written three episodes for the show.
In between his stint with 'WKRP in Cincinnati,' from 1978 to 1982, Timothy appeared in a TV movie titled 'You Can't Take It with You' and in an episode of the 'ABC' sitcom 'Benson.' He had a short recurring role as ‘Michael Horne’ in the 'NBC' sitcom 'Teachers Only.' Timothy was cast in the recurring role (79 episodes) of detective ‘Marcel “Downtown” Brown’ in the 'CBS' series 'Simon & Simon,' for which he wrote two episodes. Timothy reprised the role in 1995, in 'Simon & Simon: In Trouble Again.'
Timothy’s next long-running role was that of the lead ‘Frank Parish’ in the 'CBS' comedy–drama 'Frank's Place.' He appeared in 22 episodes, from 1987 to 1988, and penned one. He earned a 'Golden Globe' and two 'Primetime Emmy' nominations. His remarkable performance as the lead won Timothy an 'Image' and a 'Viewers for Quality Television' award. He also shared a 'Television Critics Association' award with actor Hugh Wilson.
After brief recurring roles in the 'CBS' drama 'Snoops' (1989) and the science-fiction series 'Highlander: The Series' (1992–1993), Timothy was seen as ‘Ray Campbell’ in the 'ABC' sitcom 'Sister, Sister.' With 119 episodes, from 1994 to 1999, this has been his longest-running role to date. Timothy made his directorial debut with 'Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored' in 1996. His debut film as an actor was the 1990 release 'The Fourth War.' Toward the end of the 1980s, Timothy directed a children's TV show titled 'Bobobobs.'
After quitting 'Sister, Sister,' Timothy appeared in two 'Disney Channel' original movies, 'Alley Cats Strike' (2000) and 'You Wish!' (2003). From 2004 to 2006, he portrayed the character ‘William Barnett’ in the 'Fox' period sitcom 'That '70s Show.'
Timothy was one of the leads in the 1990 horror 'It.' His other film credits are 'Dead Bang' (1989), 'Say a Little Prayer' (1993), 'Out-of-Sync' (1995), 'Trade' (2007), and '93 Days' (2016). He has also acted in a few TV movies, namely, 'Mastergate' (1992), 'Perry Mason: The Case of the Silenced Singer' (1990), and 'You Can't Take It with You' (1979). Timothy will be seen as ‘Kendal Hooks’ in the upcoming 'Netflix' series 'Heartstrings.'
Timothy co-owned 'New Millennium Studios,' which he had co-founded with his second wife in 1997. The film studio was regarded as the only studio in the US that had been owned by black people since the 1930s and was also one of the largest independent studios not located in Hollywood. It was later sold to ‘Four Square Property Management LLC.’ In 2009, Timothy laid the foundation of the 'Legacy Media Institute,' a platform for upcoming filmmakers.
In 2011, Timothy was included in the board of directors of the 'American Civil War Center' at 'Tredegar Iron Works.' He earned a 'VCU' doctorate on May 10, 2014. In the 1980s and 1990s, Timothy served as an advisory board member of the 'National Student Film Institute.'