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THOMAS, Roger "Raj"
(What's Happening!!)
1147 Central Avenue
Los Angeles, CA
(Northeastern District)

Roger is a skinny, African-American teenager with dark-rimmed glasses. He lives with his hardworking and devoted mother, ("Mama") and his bratty little sister, Dee. Mama's snug hugs of affection make Roger cry "Mama, I can't breath!"

Ernest Thomas as Roger Thomas - WHAT'S HAPPENING!!
Roger "Raj" Thomas

Roger's parents are divorced but his scheming father, Bill Thomas (who cheated during his marriage) visits their house in times of crisis to help his ex-wife with the children's problems. While Mama works as a maid to put food on the table, she calls upon Roger to baby sit his little sister, Dee.

Now, Dee can be a real pain in the butt. She gets $1.00 a week for allowance but Dee is always finding ways of extorting money from Roger ("Give me a quarter") when she gets the goods on him. By threatening "Ooooh, I'm gonna tell Mama," she nicely supplements her income.

Dee occasionally loans money to Roger and friends but always charges interest on top of the loan amount (which she figures up with her handy little calculator). Dee's personal library of books contains the multi-volume collection entitled "The History of Banks."

Danielle Spencer as Dee Thomas - WHAT'S HAPPENING!!

Mable King as Mrs. Mabel Thomas - WHAT'S HAPPENING!!


Mabel "Mama"

Roger's friends are shy Dwayne Nelson (his father is a councilman) and overweight Frederick "Rerun" Stubbs (who lives with his married sister and likes to dance). Dwayne's greeting is "Hey! HEY! Hey!"; Rerun greets people with "What's Happening!!"

They all hangout at Rob's Place, a local hamburger/soda shop on Second Avenue that employs a plump, wisecracking waitress named Shirley Wilson who is their friend. (Shirley baby sits Dee Thomas when Mrs. Thomas is out of town.)

Shirley Wilson - WHAT'S HAPPENING!!
Shirley Wilson

The owner of the place, Rob cooks the food while Shirley serves up such delicacies as hamburgers (much loved by Rerun), orange sodas (Raj's pick) and strawberry milkshakes (Dee's favorite).

At school, Roger is the editor of the Jefferson High Gazette and dreams of one day becoming a writer. He published his first story "Mr. Beaver Builds a Dam and Saves the Town of Gum Drop Falls" for $35 to Little Miss Muffet magazine.

Roger is very studious and spends a lot of time at the local library. His favorite teacher is his history teacher, Miss Collins. In his spare time, Roger writes a column for a small underground newspaper. Contributing writers included William Shakespeare (Rerun) who writes articles on food and sex.

Haywood Nelson as Dwayne Nelson - WHAT'S HAPPENING!!

Fred Berry as Freddie 'Rerun' Stubbs - WHAT'S HAPPENING!!

Dwayne Nelson "Rerun" Stubbs

To earn extra money, Roger worked as delivery boy for Pronson's Market, and got hired to write for a TV series called Central Avenue. Roger even took the job as West Coast representative selling frozen meat for the Unified Meat Company ("A whole new career in meat"). But the job only lasted one day because the company president was arrested for fraud. Frantic, Roger took a job as a nude model to make some quick cash ($35.00 an hour) to pay the bills. He later gets hired part time as a cub reporter for a local newspaper.

Here is list of some other misadventures in which Roger:

  • Manages 'The Givens Kids,' a group of four talented child singers and gets them an audition on The Gong Show. Rerun gets scheduled to dance on the same show but at the last moment fakes a leg injury to avoid winning the prize and compromising his friendship with Roger.
  • Finds investors to get seed money for Rerun to enter a Disco dance contest (prize $100). But Rerun oversells his shares but luckily loses the competition.
  • Gets arrested scalping tickets at a Steve Wonder Concert.
  • Goes to the hospital for knee surgery, and shares a room with a surly old man who once played for the Negro Leagues.
  • Negotiates settlement damages when a Rolls Royce driven by Amid, the teenage son of a foreign dignitary from the Arabic Republic of Arango hits Rerun's car.
  • Interviews The Doobie Brothers when they come to town to play a charity concert at Jefferson High School (their alma mater) while Rerun agrees unknowingly to record the concert for some bootleggers.
  • Helps Rerun with his credit card addiction after Rerun fills their apartment with stuff he can't afford. After making restitution by selling the stuff, Rerun shreds his credit cards in a food processor.
  • Gets elected spokesperson by the tenants of his apartment building to negotiate better living conditions with the new landlord. Unfortunately, the landlord terminates the boy's month-to-month occupancy and kicks Roger and Rerun of the place for fomenting discontent. Luckily, they got their apartment back when all the tenants in the building came to their defense by carrying signs around the building and shouting "No Roger!, No Rerun! No Rent!"
  • Tries to convince Rerun not to sue Rob's Place after some tainted food sent him to the hospital with food poisoning (which turned out to be an attack of appendicitis).
  • Smooths over allegations that his sister, Dee stole jewelry (worth $39.37) from Bradford Jewelry Store. Actually, Dee's friend "Little Earl" who belonged to a gang called "The Vultures" gave her an ugly necklace for her birthday, and when she tried to return it for money, she was accused of shoplifting.
  • Tutors a young girl and is promised a puppy from a litter of dogs. Unfortunately, when Mrs. Thomas hears that Susie (a dog) is pregnant, she thinks Roger has fathered a child out of wedlock.
  • Confronts a bunch of aged bank robbers who years earlier stashed their loot ($2500) from a Westlake Trust heist in the walls of Roger's house. In the end, Roger agrees to donate the money to the retirement home to benefit the gang members and the other residents.
  • Volunteers to participate in a local charity event to raise money for the local Teen Center. Roger and Dee sing (they are called "The Donnie and Marie of Watts"). Dwayne plays drums and Rerun promises to get Sammy Davis, Jr., as the main act. But when Sammy Davis is a no show, Dee Thomas points out the positive side that there will now be money for a Teen Center. Although disappointed, the audience didn't ask for their money back.
  • Tracks down the Christmas presents stolen by a thief. Roger and Rerun inadvertently help the burglar get away with the heavy bag filled with their stuff as he left their apartment. (Note: Roger's cousin "Wee Willie" Thomas is a criminal).
  • Cheats on a history exam. Actually, Roger was giving answers to Rerun so he could pass the final exam in Miss Collins History class. Roger knew Rerun could answer the questions, but Rerun refused the answers because he was afraid to leave high school (after seven years) and begin a new life. Psst! Rerun took the test over and got an A.

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