On this day in comedy on December 19, 1944 Comedian, Actor, Director, Timothy L. “Tim” Reid was born in Norfolk, Virginia.
Reid got into comedy as a duo. He was working for the DuPont Corporation when he met Caucasian insurance salesman, Tom Dreesen. They reluctantly partnered on an anti-drug program for local schools to try and make a difference. It was 1968 – what can I tell you? People cared about society back then. Anyway, they basically had to go around and preach about the evils of drugs. The difference with these two was they had a sense of humor. They engaged the kids with skits and stand-up. It was actually working and Tim and Tom were pleased merely being good members of the community. To them they were just helping inform the youth. That is until a kid asked them if they ever thought about being a comedy team. The thought had never crossed their minds, but now that the idea was in front of them they went for it and became the first inter-racial comedy team in American history. They appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson numerous times and toured extensively, but the country wasn’t really ready to see a white man and a black man making fun of being a white man and a black man so the team dissolved after five years and Reid moved more towards comedy acting.
Tim Reid broke into television guest starring on sitcoms. He worked on That’s My Mama, Rhoda, Fernwood 2 Night, The Richard Pryor Show, and What’s Happening!! Then he got his big break on WKRP in Cincinnati in the role of ultra-cool radio disc jockey, Venus Flytrap. The CBS hit lasted for six seasons. When that show was canceled, he stayed on CBS in the light-hearted detective show, Simon & Simon (Reid was not one of the Simon brothers). He played the part of Lieutenant Marcel “Downtown” Brown. In 1988 he starred in the critically acclaimed, Frank’s Place. On this (CBS) program Reid had the part of a professor who inherits a restaurant in Louisiana. The realistic depiction, stellar acting and outstanding writing might not have been rewarded with longevity (the show was short-lived), but received well-deserved accolades. Frank’s Place won Reid the “Best Actor in a Quality Series” award and an NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series”.
Reid was always in our face. He was Ray Campbell on the Tia and Tamara Mowry sitcom, Sister, Sister from 1994-1999. Then he had a recurring role from 2004-2006 as William Barnett on That ‘70s Show on Fox. And when we didn’t see him we still felt his touch. As a director, Reid helmed feature films as well as television programs. Going full circle from his roots, he created an after school special called Stop the Madness. It was an anti-drug project.
For his various outstanding and distinguished contributions over the years, Tim Reid was named to the board of directors of the American Civil War Center in 2011 and in 2014 he received an honorary doctorate from VCU.
By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton
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