By 1975, Jimmie Walker was one of the biggest sitcom stars in the country. As J.J. on Good Times, he had his own catchphrase — “Dy-no-mite!” — and quickly became a fan favorite on the first major television series to depict what life was like for African-Americans living in the projects.
Four decades later, Walker is one of Donald Trump’s few celebrity supporters.
Walker made his feelings about the president known in a new interview with Fox News this week. "I'm for probably 90 percent of the things he does,” he said. "That means I'm not against Trump, but he makes mistakes, too."
He went on to lament the fact that there is “not one positive Trump joke out here,” arguing, “you couldn't attack Obama because he was black… but Trump, they have come out guns blazing against him, but even though I don't like everything he does, why, heck, darn it, I think he deserves some sort of praise… but you can't say that in Hollywood."
Walker, who also made waves with his criticism of President Obama — telling Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, “I don’t think he’s a good guy for the job we have to do” — has been pushing the idea of President Trump since long before anyone else was taking it seriously.
In the summer of 2012, while promoting his memoir, Walker told The Wrap, “People will laugh, but we need a guy like Donald Trump now because America has become a business.” Trump wouldn’t go on to announce his presidential campaign for another three years.
That same year, Walker shared more of his political views with CNN, saying he’s against affirmative action “because we're at a point now where some things outlive their usefulness” and opposed same-sex marriage on “moral grounds” but had accepted it was probably a battle not worth fighting. “The gay lobby is very loud,” he said.
Like many Trump supporters, Walker seems to gravitate towards the president’s rejection of political correctness. That includes a defense of Bill Maher, who came under fire for casually saying the “n-word” earlier this year.
“It was a joke! Come on, people! I love Bill Maher,” he said, “even though Bill Maher has not put me on his show in about 10 years… Bill Maher is not a racist… calm down." Walker offered a similar defense of comedian Kathy Griffin, who drew outrage for holding up a fake severed head of the president.
One other thing Walker has in common with Maher are longtime rumors that both men have dated conservative pundit Ann Coulter. “I would never date a Republican,” Maher told Politico a few years ago. “I never have. I wouldn’t. Nor would she be interested in dating me.”
It was none other than Norman Lear, the 95-year-old TV legend and producer of Good Times, who said in an interview with black-ish creator Kenya Barris just a few months ago that Walker and Coulter were a romantic item.
“I love him; he’s a wonderful guy, but I’ll tell you something about him that’ll astound you: He dates Ann Coulter,” Lear said, telling Barris about the time he and his wife had dinner with the unlikely pair.
“This rumor spreads every now and then, but it’s never been true,” Coulter assured Page Six a few days later, adding, “We’re great friends. He’s hilarious and a Republican. Now, that’s news!” This from the woman who once said liberal commentators like Maher and MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell think of themselves as “freedom riders” because they date “black gals.”
As for how Walker went from starring on a show produced by one of America’s most outspoken Hollywood progressives to stumping for Trump on Fox News, it does seem as though his experience on Good Times impacted his political perspective. While Lear has said the show was “heralded” by the black press as “great breakthrough,” Walker has a different view.
Speaking to CNN’s Carol Costello in 2015 as that network was gearing up for its original series on The Seventies, Walker said that the black community did not look kindly on Good Times, fearing that it helped reinforce negative stereotypes about African-Americans. Because of that, Walker said, “you’ll never see a poor black family again on TV.” Instead, he added, “Every black family now has to be upper middle-class,” pointing to The Cosby Show and black-ish as examples.
Walker started his career by facing down accusations that J.J. was nothing more than a black stereotype. By trashing Barack Obama, hanging with Ann Coulter and fawning over Donald Trump, he has certainly proven that Jimmie Walker is anything but.