John Amos was married twice, but his second marriage to Noel Jean Mickelson was difficult, as interracial marriage was illegal. Find out the other terrible encounters the duo faced as an interracial couple.
American Actor John Amos is best known for playing the role of James Evans Sr. in the CBS television series "Good Times." Born on December 27, 1939, the Hollywood icon has also featured in other hit productions such as "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "Roots," "Coming To America," and "The Love Boat."
Indeed, Amos has enjoyed a stellar career that has spanned decades, but many fans are unaware of the actor's past. For the star, climbing the ladder of fame was not an easy feat.
John Amos at the 2nd Annual Giant Night of Comedy on September 26, 2016 in New York. | Source: Getty Images
The star had to go through difficult phases like being one of the first young black students in mostly white schools, playing football for the Denver Broncos, and working as a social worker.
However, Amos confessed that the tough experiences he faced were useful throughout his journey to stardom. In his words:
"Each and every working experience I had as a young man and then later in my life served me in good stead as an actor because they all gave me hands-on experience."
John Amos during the 2014 Doe Fund Benefit & Gala Celebration at Cipriani 42nd Street in New York City on October 30, 2014 | Source: Getty Images
Today, Amos's life and achievements are an inspiration to many young actors. The "Coming to America Star" has quite an interesting life away from the camera.
He has been married twice — his first marriage was to Actress Lilian Lehman and his second marriage was to Noel Jean Mickelson.
John Amos at the SiriusXM Studios on October 10, 2017 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images
When he tied the knot for the second time, his marriage was considered illegal in 16 states. Here are details about Amos's marriages and his children.
It is unclear when Lehman and Amos first met, but the duo's relationship became public in 1975 when she joined him on a trip to Africa, discussing the terms of his upcoming movie, "Shaka." She was also spotted with him at the JET American Airlines Celebrity Tennis Tournament in San Diego.
JOHN AMOS, THE LADIES' FAVOURITE
John Amos at "Showing Roots" New York Screening SVA Theatre | Source: Getty Images
After going public with their relationship, the former couple dated for many years before tying the knot in 1978. At the time, Amos was young and attractive, and despite his marital status, he received constant attention from women. Speaking about the attention her husband got, Lehman said:
"I knew going into this marriage the women have always been attracted to him- physically because of the way he looks and psychologically because of who he is. But I married John Amos the man, not John Amos, the actor."
Lillian Lehman, Mark James, extras appearing in the ABC tv series 'ABC Afterschool Specials', episode 'The Heartbreak Winner'. | Source: Getty Images
While receiving so much attention would bother many women, Lehman noted that it was nothing to worry about, and they often laughed about it. Lehman confessed:
"People always approach him, and they always approach me. But what can you do? You are flattered, you say thanks, and hopefully, you move on. We just laugh about it."
She also added: "With me being an actress and him being an actor, we read people easier than they usually read themselves. It's just no problem for me because of my life being geared to having a positive attitude and eliminating the negative."
John Amos (as James Evans, Sr.) in the CBS television situation comedy, GOOD TIMES. January 1, 1977. | Source: Getty Images
Unfortunately, Lehman and Amos's marriage was doomed from the onset. After staying married for 19 months, the pair called it quits in 1980 without having any children. Speaking about the reason for their separation, Lehman commented:
"In marriage, it happens."
CHALLENGES AS AN INTERRACIAL COUPLE
John Amos at the Althea screening and panel discussion on Oct. 5, 2015 in New York City | Source: Getty Images
The former couple first met as college students at Colorado State University fell in love. In a revealing Instagram post, Amos and Mickelson's daughter, Shannon, revealed:
"For them, it was love at first sight. However, it was a tumultuous time in the world around them."
Amos and Mickelson tied the knot in 1965. At the time, interracial marriages were still illegal in 16 states.
In no particular order, the states were Texas, Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Louisiana, North Carolina, Mississippi, West Virginia, Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, and Delaware.
Despite the circumstances surrounding their marriage, Amos and Mickelson's love thrived. Shannon wrote.
"In the midst of it all, their love would produce a child (me). I was born a year before my parents would be recognized as a legal couple in 16 states."
Welcoming a black child in that era was not easy. Nevertheless, Amos and Mickelson were determined to bring up their daughter in love, keeping her oblivious of the term "racism." Shannon confessed:
"As a child, I didn't know my parents were different colors. I only saw them as my parents— the two people who loved me. All I knew was their love."
Unfortunately, it was only a matter of time before little Shannon saw racism firsthand. She was only five years old and on a cross-country road trip with her parents.
According to Shannon, they had pulled over at a gas station in Arizona when a white man came out of the service station with a loaded shotgun.
He pointed the gun at Amos's head and asked that he take his White wife and black daughter out of there. At that point, Shannon said everything changed. In her words:
"My parents would have no choice but to explain to me the man's frightening behavior. They would be forced to introduce me to the existence of racism, and my innocent view of the world was forever changed."
SHANNON'S THOUGHTS ABOUT HER MOM
John Amos and daughter Shannon at the Cure Autism Now 's third annual "Acts of Love" in Los Angeles, California on November 8, 2004. | Source: Getty Images
Although Shannon's view of the world changed, it did not stop her from seeing her parents as indifferent people. On the contrary, she learned a lot of valuable lessons from them, even after their divorce in 1975. Speaking about her mom and the most important life lesson she learned from her, Shannon relayed:
"My mom defined what it means to be a great mom by being tender, nurturing, and patient. She was an artistic woman who taught my brother and me to express ourselves through our creativity."
She also said Mickelson was a "true renaissance woman," a free spirit, an artist, and a feminist. According to Shannon, Mickelson taught her that women could do anything they set their minds to do.
WHO ARE AMOS'S KIDS
Born in New Jersey, USA, Shannon is of mixed breed, as her dad is of Ghanaian ancestry, and her mom is a descendant of Eastern Europe.
Like her father, Shannon was involved in the movie industry. Even though she never appeared on screens, she witnessed the production of notable films like "Good Times" and "Coming To America."
Shannon always dreamed of being a producer and worked towards it, securing a job as an intern and working with director Spike Lee on his movie, "Mo Better Blues."
Over time, Shannon achieved a lot of success, including producing music videos for several famous R&B and Hip Hop artists. According to her social media bio, she is also a travel blogger, spiritual writer, entrepreneur, Nomad, and social media influencer.
Currently, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter and is focused on connecting brands, talent, music, product, and content owners.
On the other hand, her younger brother K.C is a filmmaker, actor, editor, and content creator. His movie credits include "Syphon Gun," "Huntsville," and "Mercy Angels." A graduate of California Institute of the Arts, K.C. also has a Grammy Award nomination to his name.
Overall, Amos' kids excel in their endeavors, and the actor could not be happier. He shares a great relationship with Shannon and K.C., and they have nothing but only sweet words for their father. K.C. once said:
"One word comes to mind when I think about him and his role in my life. Inspiration."
He added: "I saw that his role was more than a job; that he was actually helping people through his role as a strong father dedicated to mentoring his T.V. kids."
On the other hand, Amos loves sharing pictures of his children on social media. He once took to Facebook to share a photo of himself and Shannon posing. He added the caption:
"She will always be my beautiful baby girl. Me and my lovely daughter Shannon Amos on Thanksgiving!"
At 82, Amos is not only a doting father to two children but also a grandfather to his granddaughter, Quiera Williams.