Ernest Lee Thomas
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Ernest Lee Thomas (born March 26, 1949) is an American actor. He is best known for his role as Roger "Raj" Thomas on the 1970s ABC sitcom What's Happening!!, and its 1980s syndicated sequel, What's Happening Now!!, and for his recurring role as Mr. Omar on Everybody Hates Chris.
Ernest Lee Thomas
Ernest Lee Thomas
March 26, 1949
Gary, Indiana, U.S.
Early career and What's Happening!!Edit
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Thomas was born in Gary, Indiana and began his professional acting career as a Broadway actor, appearing in the 1974 revival production of Love for Love and in the 1975 revival of The Member of the Wedding. Both shows starred actress Glenn Close. Shortly after he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a TV/film actor. In the fall of 1975 he received a role on an episode of The Jeffersons. It was during the taping of the show that he learned of an audition for the upcoming sitcom What's Happening!!, at the time, loosely based on the 1975 film Cooley High. He auditioned, and went on to win the role of Roger "Raj" Thomas on the show, which became a ratings hit, and aired from 1976 to 1979.
During the show's run, Thomas was involved in other film and TV projects including Baretta, The Brady Bunch Hour and the film A Piece of the Action starring Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby. During the first season of What's Happening!!, Thomas was one of the final two actors to be considered for the lead role of Kunta Kinte in the breakthrough miniseries Roots, which eventually went to LaVar Burton. Thomas would go on to play the smaller role of Kailuba in the miniseries.
What's Happening Now!! and later careerEdit
After a six-year hiatus from TV and film acting, Ernest resumed his role as Roger "Raj" Thomas in the sequel What's Happening Now!! The show aired in first-run syndication from 1985 to 1988.
Since the show's cancellation Thomas has guest starred on a number of popular TV dramas and sitcoms including In the Heat of the Night, (which co-starred his TV wife Anne-Marie Johnson, from What's Happening Now!!), The Parent 'Hood, Martin (which starred his What's Happening Now!! co-star Martin Lawrence), Soul Food, The Steve Harvey Show, All About the Andersons and more recently Just Jordan. He has also appeared in a number of films, including a supporting role in Malcolm X and a cameo in Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star. He later had a recurring role as funeral director, Mr. Omar, on the TV sitcom Everybody Hates Chris. He had an uncredited guest spot as Ernest T "Bass" on the TV Show Are We There Yet? It was titled, "The Satchel Paige Episode" and had him playing a Flavor Flav type personality.
- 1976-1979: What's Happening!! (TV Series) - Roger 'Raj' Thomas
- 1977: A Piece of the Action - John
- 1985-1988: What's Happening Now!! (TV Series) - Roger 'Raj' Thomas
- 1991: Kiss and Be Killed - Det. Ross
- 1992: Malcolm X - Sidney
- 2003: The Watermelon Heist - Jailer
- 2003: Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star - Ernest Thomas
- 2005-2009: Everybody Hates Chris (TV Series) - Mr. Omar / Funeral Director / Radical Man
- 2007: Paroled - Royce Henderson
- 2009: Funny People - Yo Teach Principal
- 2012: The Lords of Salem - Chip McDonald (Frankenstein and the Witchhunter) (uncredited)
- 2013: The Pastor and Mrs. Jones - Pastor
- 2014: Basketball Girlfriend - Lenny
- 2014: Revenge - Neville
- 2014: The Slimbones - Uncle AB
- 2015: Mega Shark vs. Kolossus - Admiral Titus Jackson
- 2015: Chocolate City - Diner Manager
- 2016: '79 Parts - Priore
- 2016: Stop Bullying Now: Live from the Big House - Himself
- 2016 - Earworm (short)
- 2017: Chocolate City: Vegas Strip - Mr. Williams
- 2017: The Gods - Olympus
- 2017: Two Wolves - Olivier
- LA Sentinel
- "Splitsider.com". Archived from the original on 2014-02-22. Retrieved 2013-08-04.
- "Ernest Thomas joins The Lords of Salem". Daily Dead. 2011-09-21. Retrieved 2020-04-19.
- "Actor Ernest Thomas Discusses His Career And The 40th Anniversary of The Doobie Brothers Appearance on 'What's Happening!!'". go.Jimmy.go. 2018-01-21. Retrieved 2020-04-19.