Johnny Brown Dies: Comedian and ‘Good Times’ Actor Was 84

Johnny Brown (Credit: Facebook)

Johnny Brown, an actor, comedian, and singer best known for playing housing project superintendent Nathan Bookman on Good Times, has died. He was 84.

Brown’s daughter, actress Sharon Catherine Brown, shared the news of her father’s death Friday on Instagram.

“Our family is devastated. Devastated. Devastated. Beyond heartbroken. Barely able to breathe,” she began. “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. It’s too terrible.”

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Sharon told TMZ that her father went to a doctor in Los Angeles on Wednesday, March 2, to get his pacemaker checked. But shortly after the visit, he went into cardiac arrest and collapsed. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Sharon said the doctor’s appointment was routine and her father’s death was a shock.

Brown was born in St. Petersburg, Florida on June 11, 1937 and grew up in Harlem.

He broke into show business after winning an amateur night contest at the famed Apollo Theater. Brown went on to perform in nightclubs with his future wife June and with tap dancer Gregory Hines Jr.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, while working in the Catskills he met legendary entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. In 1964 Davis signed on to star in a musical adaptation of Golden Boy on Broadway, and got Brown work as Godfrey Cambridge’s understudy. Brown later replaced Cambridge as Ronnie and turned in more than 500 performances.

Brown also landed small parts on television shows, including The Leslie Uggams Show and Julia, according to his IMDb page. He appeared on Love, American Style and Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, before landing a role on Good Times from 1975 to 1979. More recently, he appeared on Kenan & Kel, The Parkers, and Everybody Hates Chris.