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Good Times Actor Johnny Brown Is Dead At 84

Johnny Brown on Family Matters
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Television)

Over the past few months, Hollywood has sadly lost a number of TV legends and, unfortunately, it’ll now say goodbye to another. Johnny Brown, the actor best known for his role as Nathan Bookman on the hit ‘70s sitcom Good Times, has died. The veteran star reportedly died this past week, though his cause of death has not been revealed. Brown was 84 at the time of his death. 

It was Johnny Brown’s daughter, actress Sharon Catherine Brown, who confirmed that he passed away on Wednesday, March 2. In an Instagram post, Catherine Brown released a statement on behalf of her family:

Our family is devastated. Devastated. Devastated. Beyond heartbroken. Barely able to breathe. We respectfully ask for privacy at this time because we need a minute to process the unthinkable. To articulate the depths of profound sadness.This is my mom’s husband for sixty one years, mine and JJ’s dad, Elijah and Levi’s Pop Pop, older brother to George and brother in law to Pat and extended family to Chris, Hihat, Damian and Derell.

The actress went on to express more sadness over the “terrible” loss of her father. In the post, she stated that she’ll have more to say on the matter at some point in the future. In addition to her emotional message, she shared a photo of her late father, which you can see in the original post down below:

Born in St. Petersburg, Florida on June 11, 1937, Johnny Brown first found success as a singer in the early 1960s. By the age of 23, he’d already recorded a release, "Walkin', Talkin', Kissin' Doll" b/w "Sundown," for Columbia Records. He’d later release another in 1968, in which he showed shades of legendary trumpeter Louis Armstrong.

The actor would soon enter the world of comedy as a regular cast member on Laugh-In, and he eventually parlayed that success into a thriving TV career. Per NY Daily News, famed producer Norman Lear originally wanted him to play the role of Lamont Sanford on the iconic sitcom Sanford and Son, but the star ultimately couldn’t sign on due to his commitment to his other show. As a result, the role went to Demond Wilson. Johnny Brown would appear on the Lear-created Maude, before the  producer cast him as greedy, but lovable, superintendent Nathan Bookman on Good Times

Nathan “Booger” Bookman served as a recurring character throughout Seasons 2 to 4. However, the character’s popularity arguably earned Brown a spot as a main cast member in the show’s final two seasons. The henpecked Bookman was best known for his wit, frequent appetite and hilarious exchanges with Willona Woods (played by the late Ja'Net DuBois).

As the years went on, Johnny Brown would earn roles on other shows as well. Many of his appearances were in notable sitcoms like The Jeffersons, Family Matters, Sister, Sister and The Jamie Foxx Show

As a member of the cast of Good Times (which can be viewed with Peacock Premium), the actor will forever be linked to the pop culture staple. The series, which was television's first African American two-parent family comedy, paved the way for the other notable Black sitcoms that would follow. (And many of those are now seeing a resurgence.) And the show’s impact is so strong that a revival is in the works from Seth MacFarlane and Norman Lear. Johnny Brown was an integral part of the show, and his contributions to TV will surely not be forgotten.

We here at CinemaBlend extend our thoughts to the family and loved ones of Johnny Brown during this time.

Erik Swann
Erik Swann

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.