Old School Americana & Nostalgia


‘That’s My Mama’: Where is the Cast of the ’70s Sitcom Now?

‘That’s My Mama’: Where is the Cast of the ’70s Sitcom Now?

In the 1970s, black sitcoms found their way onto network TV. One of them was That’s My Mama. The series, which lasted just two seasons on ABC, featured a cast that included Clifton Davis, Theresa Merritt, Teddy Wilson, Ted Lange, Lynne Moody, Joan Pringle, and Lisle Wilson.

Where, though, are these cast members today? We’ll get to that. But let’s talk a bit about That’s My Mama regarding its plot and characters on the show.

That’s My Mama had an interesting plot with Davis playing barber Clifton Curtis. He’s the owner of Oscar’s Barber Shop, which he inherited upon his father’s death. But he’s enjoying the bachelor life a little bit too much. Well, that is the opinion of his mother, Eloise “Mama” Curtis (Merritt).

It turns out that “Mama” can give out the comebacks with the best of them. She’s also feeling feisty enough to share her opinions all the time. Clifton doesn’t always want to hear what “Mama” has to say. This leads to some interesting back-and-forth banter between them in different episodes.

‘That’s My Mama’ Has Quite The Cast

Meanwhile, at the barber shop, Earl (Teddy Wilson) and Junior (Lange) come by all the time. Earl is a mailman, while Junior likes to fancy himself as a ladies’ man.

The That’s My Mama cast also included Moody, then Pringle, playing Clifton’s sister Tracy. Lisle Wilson played Tracy’s husband Leonard. DeForest Covan and Jester Hairston portrayed a couple of older gentlemen in the neighborhood.

While this show’s plot set it up to be funny, television viewers didn’t tune in enough. ABC didn’t do the show many favors, putting it up against NBC powerhouse Little House on the Prairie. America chose to spend time with “Half Pint” and not “Mama” in this case.

So, That’s My Mama ended up getting canceled on Christmas Eve 1975. There was an effort in the 1980s to have a revival called That’s My Mama Now! This came on the heels of a successful revival show titled What’s Happening Now! But there wasn’t any juice for the revival, so it got shelved.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the That’s My Mama cast members. These days, Davis, Lange, and Pringle are still alive. Sadly, the other cast members have passed away.

Davis and Hairston did work together later on as part of the NBC sitcom Amen. Davis, these days, spends time focusing on his ministry and might pop up occasionally on Trinity Broadcasting Network.

Pringle’s face probably is familiar to those who remember The White Shadow, which starred Ken Howard. She played vice principal Sybil Buchanan on there.

Ted Lange Moved On To ‘The Love Boat’

Lange, of course, went on to have a lengthy run as bartender Isaac Washington on The Love Boat. But he’s also had an active career as a director on TV shows. Lange has made his mark in the theater world, too, penning some plays over the years.

Wilson had an outstanding recurring role on CBS’ popular sitcom Good Times, which starred Esther Rolle, Ja’Net DuBois, and Jimmie Walker. He popped up as Sweet Daddy Williams on there, usually causing trouble as the gangster/pimp in the neighborhood. Sweet Daddy ends up appearing in six episodes during that series’ run.

Merritt had an extensive background in Broadway plays and musicals. She appeared in Golden Boy during its original 1964 run, which starred Sammy Davis Jr. Other plays included The Crucible, The Wiz, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and Carmen Jones. Film work for Merritt included a version of The Wiz, The Goodbye Girl, Billy Madison, and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas.

Hairston’s career included writing black spirituals and his involvement in choral work. He had bit roles, some uncredited, in such movies as In the Heat of the Night, To Kill a Mockingbird, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, and The Alamo. Hairston did receive a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in the television industry.