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Black History NJ: John Amos

John A. Amos, Jr. was born in Newark, New Jersey on December 27, 1939. In 1958, he graduated from East Orange High School. From there, he attended Long Beach City College before moving on to Colorado State University and graduating with a degree in sociology. While in college, Amos played football for the Colorado State Rams, and later became a Golden Gloves boxing champion.

He was signed to the Denver Broncos in 1964, but after a minor injury immediately afterward, he was cut from the team on the second day of training camp. Three years later, he was signed to the Kansas City Chiefs, but was again released from the team. This time, head coach Hank Stram gave him encouraging words about following his passion for writing, something Amos greatly appreciated.


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From Athlete to Actor

John Amos soon pursued a career in acting, becoming well-known for his roles on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Maude, and Good Times in the 1970s. For his roles in Good Times, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Roots, Amos won numerous TV Land Awards, in fact winning more than anyone else.

After leaving Good Times, Amos continued to appear in a number of other popular series throughout the 1980s and ‘90s; he guest starred on The District, Hunter, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and the mini-series Roots. His various, distinct roles made him a favorite among viewers; he often portrayed a variety of characters who were typically stern yet loveable.

Even in the 2000s Amos continued to please his fans; in 2010 he played a hysterical recurring part on the CBS hit, Two and a Half Men. Though fans love his television roles, his skill as a playwright is also impressive. He is the writer, producer, and performer in a one-man play titled Halley’s Comet that is critically acclaimed around the world.

Small Screen to Silver Screen

John AmosThroughout his television tenure, John Amos also found time to star in a number of motion pictures, including Let’s Do It Again, Coming to America, and Dr. Dolittle 3. In 2009, he also enjoyed a brief musical career after releasing an album of original country songs.

Beyond that, he has become an Honorary Master Chief of the United States Coast Guard; in addition to having served in the 50th Armored Division of the New Jersey National Guard in his youth.

The New Jersey-native has accomplished countless feats during his career in television, film, and even music. Though he hasn’t been as active recently (Amos is currently settled down in his home-state) we hope to see the talented performer once again on screen sometime in the near future.


Hero (Top) Feature Image: © Catherine Farmer, National Archives / Flickr
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