A native of Newark, New Jersey, John Amos initially tried many occupations: social work, advertising and even stand-up comedy. Then in 1969, he made his way to Los Angeles when he landed a job as a staff writer on future Roots co-star Leslie Uggams' variety series. His stage debut came in 1971 in Norman, Is That You?, after which John continued to work in small roles in television and film. A stint on Norman Lear's Maude led John to the role he's best known for—patriarch James Evans on Lear's Good Times. John left Good Times in 1976. The following year, he landed the role as Toby (the adult Kunta Kinte) in Roots.
Currently, John is touring the United States appearing in his one-act play, John Amos' Halley's Comet.