The NBC comedy 227 premiered over 35 years ago and aired for five seasons. It brought more representation to Black actors and discussed current issues while delivering lighthearted jokes to American living rooms. An entire generation of TV viewers fondly remembers the residents of 227 Lexington Place. So, what happened to the 227 cast members?
‘227’ made TV history
The ‘227’ cast | Embassy Pictures/Fotos International; NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images
227 creator Christine Houston based the show on her play about a group of Black women living in an apartment building in 1950s Chicago. Thanks to 227, Houston became the first African American woman to receive a “created by” credit in primetime TV and paved the way for other family sitcoms, NBC News reports.
Set in the ’80s, the TV show chronicles the lives of residents living in an apartment building at 227 Lexington Place in Washington, D.C. They often sit on the stone front steps having discussions. Their conversations unfold during each week’s episode. 227 aired from 1985 to 1990.
Marla Gibbs joined ‘227’ fresh off ‘The Jeffersons’
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Actor Marla Gibbs landed 227 after shooting to stardom as Florence Johnston, the sarcastic housekeeper on The Jeffersons. She played the main character in 227, Mary Jenkins. Gibbs is known for her snarky, sharp, and dry humor.
After 227, the actor appeared in the ABC special Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons. She has also guest-starred in This Is Us, Black-ish, and Scandal.
The now-91-hear-old was married to Jordan Gibbs from 1955 until their divorce in 1973. They had three children. She has never remarried.
Hal Williams played Mary’s husband, Lester Jenkins, on the ‘227’ cast
When we celebrate the best Black TV families, we typically shout out the Banks fam, the Evans fam, the Jeffersons, the Huxtabales (well, at least we used to…), etc. but the family that meant the most to me was the Jenkins from 227. pic.twitter.com/GcmZs3D759
— Edward Bowser (@etbowser) February 4, 2022
In 227, Hal Williams portrayed Lester Jenkins, a construction worker married to Mary, with whom he shares a teenage daughter, Brenda.
Williams has enjoyed a successful acting career spanning 25 years. He has proven himself in dramas and comedies. Drama credits include The Waltons (1972), Roots: The Next Generations (1979), and L.A. Law (1986). Williams is also known for his comedic roles in Sanford and Son (1972) and The Sinbad Show (1993).
More recently, the actor has appeared in Parks and Recreation and The Mayor. The now-83-year-old also hosts the podcast Hal’s Hitlist.
Regina King portrayed the typical teen daughter in ‘227’
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Regina King began her TV career on 227 as Mary and Lester Jenkins’ teenage daughter Brenda. She soon began to build an impressive list of film credits, including Boyz n the Hood (1991), Poetic Justice (1993), Friday (1995), Ray (2004), and One Night in Miami (2020).
Mainstream audiences really took notice when she played the wife of Cuba Gooding Jr.’s character in Jerry Maguire (1996) and co-starred with Will Smith in Enemy of the State (1998).
And in 2019, the now-51-year-old actor won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for If Beale Street Could Talk.
Helen Martin was the nosy next-door neighbor Pearl
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Born on July 23, 1909, in Missouri, Helen Martin was an actor and writer in the theater. She was also a co-founder of the American Negro Theater. Martin became a beloved TV personality when she snagged the part of Pearl Shay, Mary’s nosy next-door neighbor, on 227.
At 90, Martin died of a heart attack in Monterey, California, on March 25, 2000.
Jackée Harry stole the show when she joined the ‘227’ cast as Sandra Clark
During her lengthy Hollywood career, Jackée Harry has racked up over 100 acting credits and consistently worked since making her TV debut in 1983 opposite Morgan Freeman in the daytime soap opera Another World.
Two years later, she snagged her iconic role as Sandra Clark on 227. Harry’s performance as Mary’s sexy neighbor won the actor an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, the first for an African-American. She also received a Global Globe nomination.
Harry went on to star as the adoptive mother of Tia and Tamara in Sister, Sister from 1994 to 1999. The role earned her NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 1999 and 2000.
Other notable guest appearances include 7th Heaven, Designing Women, and Hollywood Squares. In addition, Harry joined the cast of Everybody Hates Chris in 2006.
In March 2021, the now-66-year-old returned to daytime TV as Paulina Price on the NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives.
‘227’ cast member Alaina Reed-Hall played Mary’s loyal friend Rose
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Alaina Reed-Hall was known for her roles in Death Becomes Her (1992) and Cruel Intentions (1999). She also played Olivia, Gordon’s younger sister, on Sesame Street from 1976 to 1988.
Reed-Hall appeared on 227 as Rose Lee Holloway, the loyal best friend who often chatted with Mary on the front stoop.
According to IMDb, Reed-Hall died of breast cancer on December 17, 2009. She was 63.
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