Johnny Brown, best known as the beloved actor who played housing project superintendent Nathan Bookman on Good Times, has died. He was 84.
Brown’s daughter, the actress Sharon Catherine Brown, announced her father died on Wednesday. The cause of death was not disclosed, but Sharon posted Friday on Instagram that the “family is devastated” and “beyond heartbroken.”
“To articulate the depths of profound sadness,” Sharon’s caption read in part. “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. It will never not be. It’s a shock. He was literally snatched out of our lives. It’s not real for us yet. So there will be more to say but not now. Dad was the absolute best. We love him so very much.”
Sharon told TMZ that her father was at the doctor’s office in L.A. on Wednesday getting his pacemaker checked. But shortly after that visit he went into cardiac arrest and collapsed. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Sharon told the outlet that the doctor’s appointment was routine, making his sudden death a huge shock to the family.
Brown made his first appearance on the CBS comedy in 1975 at the halfway point of season 2. Brown, born in St. Petersburg, Florida, began his climb up the entertainment ladder after winning an amateur night contest at the famed Apollo Theater.
He’d later end up working in the Catskills, and that’s where he met the legendary entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. It was later in 1964 when Davis got Brown a part as an understudy on the Broadway show Golden Boy. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Brown had never even seen a Broadway show before landing that part. Brown would go on to wow audiences when he took over Godfrey Cambridge for the role of Ronnie.
Brown’s TV credits included Laugh in, The Jeffersons, Family Matters, Sister, Sister and Martin. He made his film debut with the 1966 drama, A Man Called Adam. He returned to Broadway two years later for Carry Me Back to Morningside Heights, which was directed by Sidney Poitier.