John Amos (born December 27, 1939) is an American actor and former football player. His television work includes roles in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Good Times, the miniseries Roots, and a recurring role in The West Wing. He has also appeared on Broadway and in numerous motion pictures in a career that spans four decades. He has received nominations for a Primetime Emmy Award and NAACP Image Award.

Early life and sports career

Amos was born John Amos, Jr. in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Annabelle P. and John A. Amos, Sr., who was an auto mechanic. He graduated from East Orange (NJ) High School in 1958. He enrolled at Long Beach City College and graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in sociology. Amos also played on the Colorado State Rams football team. Amos was a Golden Gloves boxing champion. In 1964, he signed a free agent contract with the American Football League's Denver Broncos. Unable to run the 40 yard dash because of a pulled hamstring, he was released on the second day of training camp. He then played with Joliet Explorers of the United Football League. In 1965 he played with the Norfolk Neptunes and Wheeling Ironmen of the Continental Football League. In 1966 he played with the Jersey City Jets and Waterbury Orbits of the Atlantic Coast Football League. In 1967, he had signed a free agent contract with the American Football League's Kansas City Chiefs. Coach Hank Stram told John "you're not a football player, you're a man who is trying to play football." John approached Coach Stram with a poem he wrote about the mythical creature that passed the door of all players who are cut from the team. He read it to the team and received a standing ovation from all the players and coaches. Amos said Coach Stram pushed him in the direction of writing after he was released from training camp. He returned to the Continental League where he played that year with the Victoria Steelers.

Acting career

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Amos is perhaps best known for playing characters Gordy Howard (the weatherman on The Mary Tyler Moore Show) from 1970 until 1973 and James Evans, Sr. the husband of Florida Evans appearing three times on the sitcom Maude before continuing the role in 61 episodes of Good Times from 1974 to 1976. While playing an under-educated but hard-working middle-aged father of three on the show, in real life Amos was only 34 when the show began, only eight years older than the actor who played his oldest son (Jimmie Walker) and nearly 19 years younger than his screen wife (Esther Rolle). Amos, much like series' co-star Rolle, wanted to portray a positive image of an African American family, struggling against the odds in the ghetto of Chicago, but saw the premise slighted by lighter comedy, and expressed dissatisfaction. Unhappy with the scripts and tension with producers, he was fired from the show after the third season. His character James Evans died in a car accident in the first episode of the fourth season, and the series continued for two-and-a-half more seasons without him. Norman Lear said Amos had become a disruption and Amos agrees saying he wasn't very diplomatic about the direction of the show. Amos disagreed about the writers staying with J.J.'s phrases, funny walk and "pigeon hats". His other screen children, Thelma, wanted to be a surgeon and Michael a Supreme Court Justice. Amos could see the comedy that could be generated from that but the writers wanted to stay with the J.J. bits.

Other television roles:

He also portrayed Captain Dolan on the television show Hunter from 1984 to 1985. He co-starred in the CBS police drama The District and appeared in Roots as the older Kunta Kinte.

Amos played the role of an Archie Bunker-style character for the 1994 sitcom 704 Hauser which was a modern spin-off of All In The Family, but this series was cancelled after only six episodes. He was a frequent guest on The West Wing, portraying Admiral Percy Fitzwallace. He played Buzz Washington in the ABC series, Men in Trees. Amos co-starred with Anthony Anderson in the TV series All About the Andersons in 2003. In 2010, Amos also appeared as recurring character, Ed, on Two and a Half Men.

He has guest-starred on a number of other television programs including The A-Team, The Cosby Show, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, In the House, Martin as Sgt. Hamilton Strawn (Tommy's father), Touched by an Angel, Psych, My Name Is Earl, and Lie to Me.


Amos is the writer and producer of Halley's Comet, a critically acclaimed one-man play that he performs around the world.

Projects in development:

Amos' other projects, still being developed, include Back In Shape With John Amos and T and Gangs At Sea.

Film roles:

Amos has had roles in several films, such as Coming to America, Vanishing Point, The Beastmaster and Die Hard 2. He also starred in Let's Do It Again (1975) as Kansas City Mack with Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier. Amos was also featured in Disney's The World's Greatest Athlete with Tim Conway and Jan-Michael Vincent. He was also in Ice Cube's and Dr. Dre's video for Natural Born Killaz and played a police officer in The Players Club. Amos also co-starred with Sylvester Stallone in the 1989 movie Lock Up. In 2006, he played Jud in Dr. Dolittle 3.& "My baby Daddy"


Amos has the distinction of winning more TV Land Awards than anyone, taking home trophies for his roles on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Good Times and the TV miniseries Roots.

Personal life

John Amos is a veteran of the 50th Armored Division of the New Jersey National Guard and Honorary Master Chief of the U.S. Coast Guard. He is father to daughter Shannon Amos the founder of Afterglow Multimedia and son writer/director/producer K.C. Amos, and grandfather to Quiera and Jhazz.

Amos has lived in Mexico for the last decade and enjoys fishing. Amos has been a resident of Tewksbury Township, New Jersey.