Mike Evans (actor)

Michael Jonas Evans (November 3, 1949 – December 14, 2006) was an American actor, best known as Lionel Jefferson on both All in the Family and The Jeffersons.

Mike Evans
Mike Evans (actor) 1975.jpg
Mike Evans, circa 1975
Michael Jonas Evans

(1949-11-03)November 3, 1949
DiedDecember 14, 2006(2006-12-14) (aged 57)
Years active1971–1985
Helena Jefferson
(m. 1976; died 2002)
Cast of All in the Family – Back row, L–R: Jean Stapleton, Mike Evans, Carroll O'Connor. Front: Sally Struthers, Rob Reiner (1973)
Cast of The Jeffersons, clockwise from top: Mike Evans, Sherman Hemsley, and Isabel Sanford (1975)

Early lifeEdit

Evans was born in Salisbury, North Carolina. His father, Theodore Evans Sr., was a dentist, and his mother, Annie Sue Evans, a teacher. He attended Palmer Memorial Institute, a private school for young black Americans in Sedalia, North Carolina, just outside Greensboro. His family later moved to Los Angeles, where he graduated from Los Angeles High School. He studied acting at Los Angeles City College.[1]


A college student majoring in drama but with no acting experience, Evans caught his big break when All in the Family producer and director John Rich hired him to play Lionel Jefferson, the son of the Bunkers' new black neighbors. Show developer Norman Lear preferred Cleavon Little for the role, but Rich lobbied to cast an actor who would appear less threatening.[2] Evans continued to play the role on the spinoff The Jeffersons, but left after the first season to pursue other aspects of his career. According to Jimmie Walker, Evans had threatened to leave if he was not given more screen time, and Norman Lear let him out of his contract.[3] Actor and opera singer Damon Evans (no relation to Michael) then took the role of Lionel, but Mike Evans returned in the role for the sixth through eighth seasons.

Evans was also one of the creators and writers of the series Good Times (1974–79).[4]

Evans played Lenny in the cast of the 1976–1977 Danny Thomas situation comedy The Practice during its second and final season.

Evans was also a real estate investor and owned properties in California's Inland Empire.[5]

Actress Berlinda Tolbert who played Evans' wife, Jenny, on The Jeffersons is just one day younger and they were also both born in North Carolina.

Personal life and deathEdit

In July 1974, Evans met Helena Jefferson (June 18, 1952 – September 11, 2002). They married on January 10, 1976. On September 11, 2002, Evans lost his wife to breast cancer after she was diagnosed on February 24, 2001. Four years after her death, Evans died of throat cancer at his mother's home in Twentynine Palms, California, at the age of 57.[5] He is survived by his two daughters, Carlena and Tammie, his mother Annie Sue, his brother Thomas, his cousin Harold and his niece Chrystal.


Year Title Role Notes
1971–1975 All in the Family Lionel Jefferson Main cast (33 episodes)
1972 Killer by Night Marley Television film
1972 Call Her Mom Wilson Television film
1972 Now You See Him, Now You Don't Henry Fathington Feature film
1972 Love, American Style Jerome Wilson "Love and the Perfect Wedding" segment
1973 Voyage of the Yes Orlando B. Parker Television film
1974 The House on Skull Mountain Phillippe Wilette
1974 The Streets of San Francisco Paul Hudson Episode: "For Good or Evil"
1975 Far Out Space Nuts Episode: "Galaxy's Greatest Athlete"
1975–1985 The Jeffersons Lionel Jefferson Main cast (34 episodes) (final appearance)
1976 Rich Man, Poor Man Arnold Simms Television miniseries
1976–1977 The Practice Lenny Main cast (13 episodes)


  1. ^ "Mike Evans". Biography Resource Center Online. Gale, 2007. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2009. Updated June 1, 2007. Retrieved 16 January 2009. Document Number: K1650005514.
  2. ^ FoundationINTERVIEWS (2011-06-28), John Rich Interview Part 10 of 14 – EMMYTVLEGENDS.ORG, retrieved 2018-08-10
  3. ^ FoundationINTERVIEWS (2017-02-07), JIMMIE WALKER, retrieved 2018-12-01
  4. ^ Good Times Full Cast and Credits at IMDb
  5. ^ a b "'Jeffersons' Actor Mike Evans Dies". CBS News, 2006. Published December 22, 2006, 9:42 a.m. Retrieved February 1, 2014.

Further readingEdit

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