I AM THE GREATEST: ADVENTURES OF MUHAMMAD ALI/NBC/1977-78
*(Cartoon Character) Muhammad Ali (as Himself), a black boxing champ travels the
world battling evil.
*(Bill Cosby/costar) Alexander Scott, a black American secret agent who toured
the world with his white partner in the guise of tennis professionals. Bill
Cosby was the first black performer to have a starring role in a regular
dramatic series on American television. Robert Culp appeared as his white
partner, Kelly Robinson.
I'LL FLY AWAY/NBC/1991-92
*(Regina Taylor/costar) Lilly Harper, a black housekeeper working for a white
southern lawyer's family in Bryland County during the backdrop of early 1960's
civil rights movement. Also featured were Bill Cobb's as Lilly's father, Lewis;
and Zelda Harris as Lilly's daughter, Adelaide. In the fall of 1993, PBS aired a
follow-up "I'll Fly Away" TV-movie with now 63-year-old Lilly Harper reminiscing
with her grandson. This Emmy-winning show ran for 38 episodes.
IN LIVING COLOR/FOX/1990-94
*(Keenan Ivory Wayans) Comedy variety program strong on satire and spoof
featuring a cast of mostly black performers including Keenan Ivory Wayans, S.W.
Shawn Wayans, Damon Wayons, Kim Wayans, Jamie Foxx, Tommy Davidson, David Alan
Grier, T'Keyah "Crystal" Keymah; Marlon Wayans; Anne-Marie Johnson; and Kim
Coles. One of their funny skits included Keenan Wayans and Damon Wayans as Tom &
Tom, the Brothers brothers, two token black preppie, yuppie entertainers who
acted like white people and laugh at such jokes as "How do you baby sit a little
black kid ? (Velcro on the ceiling!).
IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT/NBC/CBS/1988-95
*(Harold Rollins/costar) Virgil Tibbs, a black Philadelphia trained police
detective who returned to his small southern hometown of Sparta, Mississippi to
work as Chief of Detectives for a white police chief. Other cast included
Anne-Marie Johnson as Virgil's high school teacher wife, Althea Peterson-Tibbs;
Geoffrey Thorne as Deputy Wilson Sweet; and Crystal Fox as police dispatcher Lu
Ann Corman. During the 1991 season white police chief Bill Gillespie began
romancing black city councilwoman, Harriet DeLong played by Denise Nicholas.
IN THE HOUSE/NBC/1995-99
*(LL Cool J, a.k.a. James Todd Smith/costar) Marion Hill, a black NFL star and
landlord who shared a Los Angeles house (he lived in the garage) with Jackie
Warren (Debbie Allen) a divorced single legal secretary with two children (whom
Marion often babysat). Also featured were Maia Campbell as Jackie's teenage
daughter, Tiffany; Jeffrey Wood as Jackie's young son, Austin; and John Amos as
Marion's trainer, Sam (Marion was a pro football player sidelined by an injury).
Later in the series, the Jackie Warren character was written out of the script
so Marion (still caring for Tiffany) spent more time at the sports rehab clinic
that he ran with Maxwell Stanton (Alfonso Ribeiro), a Harvard-educated Doctor.
Its staff included Kim Wayans as Tonia, the clinic's physical therapist. Phil
Morris also appeared as Dr. Goldwire in a few episodes.
**(Charlie Robinson) Ernie Trainor, black journalist assigned to the police beat
for a New York City newspaper.
*(Stoney Jackson/costar) James Mackey, a black streetwise, ex-con gone straight
(and Prince look-alike) who helped a freelance writer with his various expose'
assignments for Newspoint magazine.
**(Hal Frederick) Dr. Cal Barrin, young black physician and one of five interns
working at New North Hospital under the mentorship of crusty Dr. Peter
**(Don Mitchell) Mark Sanger, an ex-delinquent black youth who became aide and
bodyguard to wheelchair bound chief of detectives in the city of San Francisco.
Later in the series Mark studied to be a lawyer. Joan Pringle appeared as Diana
Sanger, Mark's wife.
IT TAKES TWO/ABC/1982-83
**(Della Reese) Judge Caroline Phillips, a black Chicago court official and
friend of white female assistant district attorney, Molly Quinn.
IT'S A LIVING/ABC/1980-82/SYN/1985-89
*(Sheryl Lee Ralph/costar) Virginia "Ginger" St. James, a vampish outspoken,
black aspiring fashion designer, who worked as a waitress at a roof top
restaurant (Above the Top) in Los Angeles with a bevy of other beautiful
colleagues. Ralph, who graduated from Rutgers in 1977 (their youngest female
graduate) received a Tony Award nomination for the Broadway extravaganza "Dreamgirls".
Ralph's character was introduced on IT'S A LIVING during the 1986 season. Also
featured was Edye Byrde as Ginger's Grandmother.
IT'S SHOWTIME AT THE APOLLO/USA/SYN/1987+
*(Sinbad) Sinbad, black host of this weekly talent program featured top black
singers, dancers and comedians during the 1989-91 season. Other hosts included
Steve Harvey; Rick Aviles (1977-91); Kiki Shepard; Rudy Rush; Mark Curry
(1992-93); Howard "Sandman" Sims. Tim Gibbons produced the program. As of 2002
the syndicated show SHOWTIME AT THE APOLLO has a new host (MO'NIQUE) and a new
executive producer, Suzanne de Passe. The Apollo Theater is located in Harlem,
in New York City. It's motto: "Where Stars are born and legends made."
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