BernNadette Stanis Was a Virgin When She Wed a Man 'Who Wasn't Very Kind in Words' — Inside Their Marriage
TV star BernNadette Stanis reflected on her memorable role as Thelma Evans in the '70s popular American sitcom "Good Times." Stanis said her character has become the doctor she always wanted to be, has three kids, who are all striving in their own lives, with one following in her footsteps.
Actress BernNadette Stanis has looked back on her role as Thelma Evans in CBS' TV show, "Good Times," which aired for six seasons from 1974 to 1979.
Stanis played the feisty African-American middle child of the Evans household living in a Chicago housing project. After more than 40 years since the show aired, the New York native shared why she believed it was still relevant to modern-day society.
Actress BernNadette Stanis during 6th the Annual BET Awards - Arrivals at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. / Source: Getty Images
In August 2019, Stanis told Journalnow.com that "Good Times" had such a long run because it was authentic in its storytelling. She shared that her father even said the series was the first reality TV series.
Stanis added many African-Americans and other poor Caucasians and other nationalities went through the same financial struggles during that time, and they all related to the show.
When asked where she thought her character would be in the present time, the author said she had become the doctor she always wanted to become. Stanis added that Thelma would have had three kids, a son in the NFL and a daughter studying towards a medical degree, including a younger teenage daughter still trying to figure life out.
Though she no longer plays Thelma, Stanis revealed to BrooklynPaper.com in August 2009 that she learned to embrace her on-screen identity:
"I always think, hmm...I must have played that part so well that I was that person to people. The way they look at me is as a family member – and I don't stop them from that."
When asked why she felt the show had such an effect on viewers during an interview with Sun-Sentinel in December 2015, the "N-Secure" star said the series was written realistically concerning how people feel and their emotions:
"It resonates with so many people across the board, understanding about love and family and understanding about the way the black family was in those days."
On what "Good Times" taught viewers, Stanis stated: "It taught us about family. It taught us about caring for one another. It taught us that although you may not have a lot of money, you can be rich in love and security."
Many people do not know about Stanis' personal life, about which she spoke several times. Here are the details about her first marriage and other relationships.
STANIS' SECOND MARRIAGE WAS NOT LIKE HER FIRST
Author BernNadette Stanis posing for a portrait in February 1975 in Los Angeles, California. / Source: Getty Images
Stanis wed for the first time in June 1974 to Thomas Fauntleroy and described the union as "interesting" because she was still pure and naïve. In an interview with Essence.com in October 2020, "The "Engagement" star revealed:
"Well, my first marriage was interesting because I was a virgin. I was a young woman and didn't understand how it really worked."
After four years of courtship, Stanis married a man who had a sharp tongue. However, that bad experience made her even more interested in relationships.
"Unfortunately, after four years courting, I married a man who wasn't very kind in words. He was harsh to me, but there's a side to me that's very strong. That experience got me so interested in relationships," she said.
While Stanis became exposed to the darker side of Fauntleroy, she had a preconceived notion that her being a virgin was every man's desire, but that was not the case:
"In my mind, he had the best of everything. I thought, doesn't every man want a virgin? But it didn't turn out that way."
"With the next situation, I was a little more cautious and was definitely sure that the man that I married was not going to be mean, and I did that with my second marriage."
The couple had a surprise wedding at the groom's home. Rev. Walter DeLoatch officiated their ceremony in the presence of the maid of honor, Debbie Stanislaus, the bride's sister, and the best man, Edward Swogea.
After saying their 'I dos,' the newlyweds took to the dance floor. Moreover, before exchanging their wedding vows, Stanis and Johnson had met two months prior.
Immediately after their wedding, Johnson relocated to California to start a new life with his beautiful wife, who became TV's first black sex symbol or the "It" girl.
STANIS' THIRD MARRIAGE FAILED - BUT HER DAUGHTER GOT A DOTING STEPMOTHER
Be that as it may, the couple's marriage failed, and they divorced in 1981. But Stanis gave marriage another shot when she wed for the third time with Terrence Redd the same year she divorced her second husband.
She and Redd, a mechanical engineer, married on December 27, 1981. The pair welcomed a daughter, Dior, within their marriage. However, the duo later divorced, and Redd won custody of their child.
He also remarried and wed former model Kathleen Bradley, and she became a doting stepmother to Dior. "The Price Is Right" alum has an endearing relationship with her stepdaughter.
Bradley once revealed that she had heard many unsettling stories about stepmom and stepdaughter relationships, but in her case, things are smooth sailing:
"I've heard horror stories about stepmothers and stepdaughters, but my situation is more like a fairy-tale."
The former singer complimented her stepchild, Dior, and disclosed there had not been issues between them. Playing the role of a stepmother was a learning experience for her.
"She has been a wonderful daughter, and there have been no problems. It has been a great opportunity and a learning experience – being a parent and raising someone's child. There is a lot of give and take," said Bradley.
The actress, who has a daughter named Cheyenne from a previous relationship, explained the interaction between her and Dior had been pleasant because she had been a part of her relationship with Redd since she was young:
"Terrence has had custody of Dior for a long time. We got together when both Dior and Cheyenne were five years old. I felt we were destined to be together. We were married to previous spouses in the same year, and our daughters were born in the same year."
Bradley continued to sing Dior's praises, saying she had been nothing but remarkable as a child and as a young adult, adding she was easy to talk to:
"By and large, she has been a perfect daughter. I was pleased with her as a child and now as a young adult. She is easy to talk to and get along with. She has a sweet disposition."
The host of the game show shared that Dior and Cheyenne got along well while touching on the normalcy of sibling rivalry in their home. "They have little spats as all sisters do. But for all intents and purposes, we have a normal family life. My husband and I both put in a lot of time with the children," said Bradley.
STANIS FOUND THE ONE AFTER THREE FAILED MARRIAGES
In addition, after saying 'yes' three times, Stanis found true love in her 4th husband, Kevin Fontana, with whom she has a daughter, Brittany Rose. Fontana is also her manager.
During "The Unseen Interview" in 2009, Stanis shared that she found it challenging to find someone who loved her genuinely in real life throughout her love journey:
"I had difficulty finding a person who loved me for me in my lifetime because I did have the Thelma thing going on from early. So, when I started dating and everything, that was there."
So, she focused on that, and it took her a while to get to that place. The "Situations 101 Relationships" author said it hurt only to realize later that her previous partners only loved her because of her Thelma on-screen persona:
"So, I had to work through that, and it took me a little time to work through that, to understand that. And it was very hurtful when you think someone loves you for you, and then all of a sudden you found out it's just your character."
That revelation negatively affected her romantic relationships, which inspired her passion for writing about them in her books. "So, it became a big issue for me in relationships, and that's why relationships are so important to me, she said.
Things are now different with Fontana, who sees her in her, making Stanis a happy wife and a mom. She gushed about her happy marriage with a glowing smile: "I got married, and I have two daughters. And they love me for me. That's cool."