Amos, who was raised in Newark, New Jersey, began his career as a writer for The Leslie Uggams Show and the Emmy Award-winning Loman and Barkley Show. After writing for several shows, Amos turned his attention to acting and landed his breakthrough role on The Mary Tyler Moore Show as weatherman Gordy Howard, a character he considers one of his favorites. After four years on the show, Amos got the chance for top billing by signing on for his most recognizable role, James Evans, the temperamental patriarch on Norman Lear's hit comedy series Good Times. One year after leaving the show, he starred in the highly celebrated and landmark mini-series Roots, Alex Haley's moving story about the search for his African ancestors. Amos' portrayal of the adult Kunta Kinte earned him praise, as well as an Emmy nomination. This season, he will also continue his recurring role as Admiral Percy Fitzwallace on the hit drama The West Wing.
While continuing to appear on television, Amos also starred in films including the comedy Coming to America with Eddie Murphy, the action thrillers Die Hard 2 and Ricochet, with Denzel Washington, and John Turturro's Mac. Next year, Amos will star with Anthony Anderson and Eddie Griffin in the film My Baby's Mama and The Watermelon Heist, directed by his son K.C. Amos, who is named after the Kansas City Chiefs, Amos' favorite football team (even though they cut him twice). For his work on the stage, Amos received a nomination for Best Actor by the Los Angeles Drama Critics for his theatrical debut in Norman, Is That You? and garnered the NAACP Award for Best Actor for his performance in the Broadway production of Split Second. Other notable stage performances include Sir Toby Belch in Twelfth Night at Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival and Troy Maxson in the Capital Repertory production of August Wilson's Pulitzer Prize-winning play Fences.
In addition to writing and acting, Amos is the former Artistic Director for the John Harms Theater in Englewood, New Jersey and in 1990, he conceived and wrote Halley's Comet, his critically acclaimed one-man show that has subsequently toured throughout the country and abroad.
The proud father of two children and one grandchild, Amos' passion is Halley's Comet Foundation, an organization he founded that provides positive alternatives to young people through its nautical and maritime programs, often in conjunction with the United States Coast Guard.
When not working, Amos can be found playing golf, chess or hitting the seas in his 68-foot Ketch sailboat.
John Amos Facts
|December 27, 1939 (84)
|Newark, New Jersey, USA