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Roger, Rerun and Dwayne - WHAT'S HAPPENING!!
Roger, Rerun and Dwayne at Rob's Place

After graduating from Jefferson High School, Roger goes to college and shares a one-bedroom apartment (105) with Rerun for $150 a month. Roger's mother helped decorate the place but Mama's continual visits curtailed the boy's chances at romance. Roger is unable to hurt his Mama, so Dwayne tells her about the problem and she agrees to not just drop by without first calling.

While on dates, Roger uses what he calls the "Thomas Technique" to woo his women. It consists of music, candlelight, wine, roses and the mellow sounds of Barry White ("Oh Baby, Baby") as Roger moves his date to the couch to get her more comfortable. Then Roger dims the light, proposes a toast - perhaps a bit of romantic poetry. Then he turns the conversation around to her, compliments her on her shapely legs, and small feet.

Using these guidelines, Roger guarantees the girl will be putty in his hands According to Roger, the "Thomas Technique" is the most "romantic thing since the drive-in movie." As a extra incentive to attract the ladies, Roger wears Brave Bull cologne. But as one of his friends told him, "You have to be brave to wear it."

Roger and Rerun later move into a larger place (Apartment 3A). Their neighbors included Jerry Simpson, a.k.a. "The Snake, a college basketball star at City College whom Roger tutors so he can pass his English course; Big Earl, a police detective; and his son "Little Earl" who had a crush on Dee Thomas, Roger's sister. Meanwhile, Roger tutors students for $3.00 an hour.

Once. Roger became infatuated with a girl name Jean and decided to leave Rerun and move in with her. But when the girl's former roommate returns, Roger and is left in a lurch when Rerun, hurt over Roger leaving, tells him that he already rented his half of the room to Dwayne. However, the two make amends as Rerun asks "Whose turn is it to cook?"

The Cast of What's Happening Now!

By 1985, Roger is a writer, although a struggling one. His first novel The Kremlin Dimension sold 25 copies. His second novel Fateful Harvest was published by Ballard Publishing. Roger also penned a play entitled It's Nothing Personal, and movie script called The Great Cleveland Jewel Heist.

Now married, Roger lives with his newlywed wife, Nadine (a social worker) in his childhood home at 1147 Central Avenue. Roger's mother had moved to Arizona with her new husband and sold her home to Roger before she left town, A short time later, Roger and Nadine adopt a run away orphan named Carolyn Williams. And, occasionally, Roger's sister Dee, now in college, drops in for a visit.

Roger is still close with friends, Dwayne and Rerun (who now share an apartment together). Dwayne had joined the army, learned computers and became a computer programmer for Milster Computers; and Rerun is a bit of a local legend as a used cal salesman at K-Doe's OK cars where he appears in commercial spots as "Swami Stubbs."

When Roger learns that his once favorite eatery is slated for demolition, he joins forces with Shirley Wilson as business partners and reopen Rob's Place. To market his new business, Roger does a TV commercial on Channel 77 dressed as "Mr. Good Chef."

Now firmly reestablished in the neighborhood, Rob's Place provides a new generation with a place to go for burgers, fries and fun as well as a comfy hangout for old timers like Roger, Rerun and Dwayne to catch up on WHAT'S HAPPENING!!

What's Happening!! - First Season

TRIVIA NOTE: The interior set used for the Thomas home was the same set used on SANFORD AND SON (without all that junk, of course). During second season production of 'What's Happening!!' actress Danielle Spencer lost her stepfather in a terrible head-on car crash which also injured Danielle (broken left arm, facial injuries). In 1996, Danielle Spencer became a veterinarian. In February, 2001, Bryant Gumbel hosted a 'What's Happening!!' cast reunion on the CBS Early Show.

Cast Passings:

  • Shirley Hemphill (who played Shirley Wilson, the waitress at Rob's Place) died from kidney failure on December 10, 1999 in West Covina, Los Angeles, California.
  • Mabel King (who played "Mama" Thomas on the show) died from complications of diabetes on November 9, 1999 in Los Angeles, California. Before her death she had suffered a stroke and lost her legs and an arm to the disease.
  • Fred Berry (who played Freddie "Rerun" Stubbs) died after recovering from a stroke in Los Angeles, California on October 21, 2003. He was 52.


 Ernest Thomas as Roger 'Raj' Thomas
Haywood Nelson as Dwayne Nelson
Mabel King as Mabel 'Mama' Thomas
Danielle Spencer as Dee Thomas
Shirley Hemphill as Shirley Wilson
Fred Berry as Fred 'Rerun' Stubbs
Earl Billings as Rob
David Hollander as Earl 'Little Earl' Barnett Jr.
John Welsh as Earl 'Big Earl' Barnett
Thalmus Rasulala as Bill Thomas
Leland Smith as The Snake


Ernest Thomas as Roger Thomas 
Fred Berry as Freddie Stubbs
Haywood Nelson as Dwayne Nelson
Danielle Spencer as Dee Thomas
Shirley Hemphill as Shirley Wilson
Anne-Marie Johnson as Nadine Hudson Thomas
Reina King as Carolyn
Martin Lawrence as Maurice Warfield
John Pappas as Guard
Ken Sagoes as Darryl 
Lillian Lehman as Yvonne Hudson,
Nadine's Mother
Ray Girardin as Ringmaster / Duke
Teddy Wilson as Mr. Lee / Bum
Meshach Taylor as Buddy

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