One of many culturally significant black TV shows was the TV sitcom “227”, which ran from 1985 to 1990. Though the show only ran for five years, that was plenty of time to help cement the careers of several notable black actresses and actors into mainstream TV and film. Let’s review the “227” cast and take a look at what these actors and actresses did after the show, as well as what they’re up to today.
Marla Gibbs, played “Mary Jenkins”, and was essentially the lead actress of the “227” cast. “Mary”, her husband, and her daughter lived in a middle-class apartment, and Mary served as the protagonist of the show.
During and after the show’s five-year run, Marla also served as a supporting actress in several films and guest-starred on episodes of “Touched by an Angel,” “ER,” “Southland,” and the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”. She was in “Madea’s Witness Protection” in 2012, and in later years, she guest-starred in “American Horror Story: Hotel,” “This Is Us,” and “Hot in Cleveland.”
Up until 1999, Marla Gibbs owned a jazz club in LA (which she bought in 1981) by the name of Marla’s Memory Lane Jazz and Supper Club.
Gibbs is also a singer and has released several pieces of music.
Today, Marla Gibbs is 91 years old but still keeps busy. Since 2021, she has regularly appeared on the long-running soap opera, “Days of Our Lives.”
In “227”, Helen Martin played Pearl Shay, the devoted grandmother character who spent a lot of her time sitting at her front window so that she could listen to the not-so-private conversations anyone nearby was having.
She played several other grandmotherly characters in films like “Bulworth,” “House Party 2”, “Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood,” and “Hollywood Shuffle.” She was also in a couple of other sitcoms, namely, “That’s My Mama.”
Helen Martin accomplished a career spanning more than sixty years but passed away due to a heart attack in 2000. She was 90 at the time.
Jackee Harry landed the role of Sandra Clark in “227” when she was only 19 years old. Sandra was an introspective young woman who always had interesting takes to present on the hilarious situations that happened during the show’s episodes.
Her role as Sandra led her to become the first black actress to win an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.
After the show, Jackee starred with Oprah Winfrey in the adaptation of “The Women of Brewster Place,” a novel written by Gloria Naylor. She also played CoCo in “The Royal Family” and Lisa Lowry in “Sister, Sister,” and the latter role earned her the NAACP Image Award two years in a row. Like Marla Gibbs, Jackee Harry also had a role in “Days of Our Lives.”
Jackee later appeared in “Designing Women,” “Everybody Hates Chris,” “That’s So Raven,” and “7th Heaven”. She also did stage performances, such as “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” “The Vagina Monologues,” “The Boys from Syracuse,” “The Cleanup Woman,” “NEWSical: The Musical,” and “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide.”
Today, Jackee is a spokesperson for the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund and an ambassador to the Women’s International Center.
On “227”, Regina King played Brenda Jenkins, the incredibly smart daughter of the main couple, Mary and Lester.
After her role in “227”, King had roles in several movies, including “Boyz in the Hood,” “Higher Learning,” “Friday”, “Jerry Maguire,” and “Poetic Justice.” In 1998, Regina King played two notable roles in the films “How Stella Got Her Groove Back” and “Enemy of the State.”
She continued to act in television roles, including “Shameless,” “24”, “American Crime,” “Watchmen,” and “The Leftovers.”
King earned an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Tish’s mother on “If Beale Steet Could Talk.” A couple of her most recent roles were in “Flag Day” and “The Harder They Fall.”
In 2013, she directed a movie, “Let the Church Say Amen,” and directed “One Night in Miami” in 2020.
In 227, Hal Williams (one of the most well-known “227” black actors) played Lester Jenkins, the husband of Mary Jenkins and the father of Brenda Jenkins. He was a working-class man and owned his own construction company.
Williams has had acting roles in movies and an array of TV shows before and after his time on “227”. When the show ended, Hal Williams acted in “Night Court,” “LA Law,” “Tales from the Crypt,” “Suddenly Susan,” “Moesha,” and “Parks & Recreation,” to name a few.
Recently, Williams was the voice of the character credited as Wagonner in the “Disintegration” video game and appeared as the character Walt on the TV show “Mr. Mayor.” He’s currently working on a short film entitled “Goodnight, My Love.”
Alaina Reed Hall
Alaina Reed Hall played Rose Lee Holloway on the “227” cast. Her character was the landlady of the apartment in which the show took place. Rose was also close friends with Mary Jenkins. Her character later married Warren Merriwether, who was played by the actress’s real-life husband, Kevin Peter Hall.
Before and during the runtime of “227”, Hall was known for her role as Olivia on “Sesame Street.” After the show, Hall appeared in several TV shows, such as “NYPD Blue,” “Friends,” “Ally McBeal,” and “ER.”
She had roles in the following movies as well: “Death Becomes Her,” “I’m Through With White Girls,” and “Cruel Intentions.”
Alaina Reed Hall passed away after a long battle with breast cancer in 2014, though she was diagnosed in 2007. She was 63 years old.
These prominent black cast members made an impact on TV viewers both before and after their time on “227”, and many of them continue to work in media to bring interesting, dynamic characters to life onscreen. Keep an eye out for the latest on what these former sitcom actors are up to so that you can stay up to speed with fantastic TV and film productions.