On this day in comedy on December 22, 1953 Actress, Author, Bern Nadette Stanis (Bernadette Stanislaus) was born in Brooklyn, New York.
The Julliard School graduate is best known for her role as Thelma Evans in the CBS hit sitcom Good Times. The Norman Lear produced show about life in the projects ran from 1974-1979. Stanis was the teenage daughter of James (John Amos) and Florida Evans (Esther Rolle) and sister to older brother JJ (Jimmie Walker) and younger brother, Michael (Ralph Carter). The program dealt with social issues of urban life and gave Stanis an opportunity to represent the trials and tribulations of a young black girl in post-Civil Rights America to a generation. The fact she was attractive helped. Girls wanted to look like Thelma and guys wanted a girl who looked like Thelma.
Good Times made Stanis a cultural icon and she embraced it. Unlike many celebrities who the public confused with their popular alter ego, if you called Stanis “Thelma” she’d answer to it with a smile and talk to the adoring fan. She’s done promotional commercials as Thelma, radio spots, personal appearances, Black History Month recollections about Good Times and played Thelma Evans on an episode of The Wayans Bros. Stanis was even part of a “Battle of the Thelmas” for TV One. The stunt was to air the weddings of Thelma from Good Times (to actor Ben Powers) and the wedding of Anna Maria Horsford (who played Thelma Frye on Amen).
However, Stanis proved she was more than Thelma Evans. Following the cancellation of Good Times, Stanis guest starred on The Love Boat, What’s Happening Now!!, The Cosby Show, The Parent ‘Hood, Girlfriends and Black Jesus. She’s appeared in over a half dozen films and has published two books; Situations 101: Relationships, The Good, The Bad & The Ugly and For Men Only, a collection of her poetry.
By Darryl “D’Militant” Littleton
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