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What's Happeneing aired from August 1976 until April 1979 on ABC.
In the summer of 1976, television super-producer Bud Yorkin—the man
behind All in the Family and Sanford and Son—premiered his newest
series, What’s Happening!! Geared toward the teen market, the series
followed a trio of best friends: aspiring writer Roger (Raj), class
clown Rerun, and painfully shy Dwayne, plus Raj’s
wise-beyond-her-years little sister Dee. As they navigated school-age
life in L.A.’s Watts neighborhood, the problems they faced—girls,
bullies, and homework—were issues familiar to any teen.
This Urban comedy centered around 3 spirited black kids in a big
city. Raj (Ernest Thomas) was the studious dreamer, who wanted
to be a writer ;Rerun (Fred Berry), the jolly overweight clown who
often wound up with his foot in his mouth; and Dwayne (Haywood Nelson),
the shy tag-along,always striving to be cool. When not involved in
some sort of scrape; the three could be found hanging out at Rob's,
a diner near their school, where Shirley (Shirley Hemphill) was the waitress.
Family problems arose when Raj clashed with his no-nonsense mother
Mabel (Mabel King) who worked as a maid, and with his pesky little
sister Dee (Daniel Spencer). Mama's no good ex-husband Bill
( Thalmus Rasulala), the kid's father, was seen occasionally as was
Marvin (Bryan O'Dell), the gossipy reporter for the high school newspaper.
In 1978 Raj and Rerun graduated from high school and moved into a
shared apartment nearby, where Raj entered college and Rerun went to
work. Their new neighbors were Big Earl ( John Welsh), a police
detective; and his smart mouthed son, Little Earl ( David Hollander).
"the Snake" ( Leland Smith) was the college basketball star.
First seen as a summer replacement show, What's happening!!! was given
a spot on the regular ABC schedule in the fall of 1976.
The series was loosely based on the movie Cooley High.The creator was
Eric Monte and the Executive produces were Bernie Orenstein, Saul
Turteltaub and Bud Yorkin.
Here is Mabel King's Obituary
"What's Happening!!" Star Dead
by Joal Ryan | Wed., Nov. 24, 1999 11:40 AM
The actress best known simply as Mama--the oversized, all-powerful matriarch of 1970s sitcom What's Happening!!--has died of complications from diabetes, it has been learned.
Mabel King died November 9 in Woodland Hills, California. She was 66.
Movie fans will remember King for her turn as Steve Martin's mother in 1979's The Jerk and for her life force of a performance in the 1978 musical, The Wiz, where she played the Wicked Witch of the West (name of Evillene).
But it is in the forever world of TV reruns where King arguably leaves her biggest mark. In the 1976-79 ABC sitcom, she played the no-nonsense life advisor to a trio of teen boys, son Roger (Ernest Thomas), and his friends Dwayne (Haywood Nelson) and Rerun (Fred Berry).
Poor health plagued King for years--she worked little following the What's Happening!! run. More recent credits included a bit in the 1988 Bill Murray comedy, Scrooged.
Diabetes cost King both her legs; a stroke damaged her left hand; a fall from a wheelchair knocked out her upper teeth. She lived at Motion Picture & Television Hospital in Woodland Hills for nine years, leaving the residence just this past August.
"Sure enough, I've been through a lot," King told the Los Angeles Times in 1995, "but so what? I thank God for my life."
Here is Shirley Hemphill's Obituary
December 10, 1999: Shirley Hemphill Dies
Hemphill died of kidney failure at her home in suburban Los Angeles, California. Her body was discovered by a gardener who had looked through a window and saw her lying on her bedroom floor. Hemphill was cremated.
Just one month earlier, her What’s Happening!! co-star Mabel King had also died; they were both honored in the “In Memoriam” segment during the 2000 NAACP Image Awards telecast.
Shirley Ann Hemphill was a stand-up comedian and actress.
A native of Asheville, North Carolina, Hemphill moved to Los Angeles in the 1970s to pursue a career as a stand-up comedian. After working the Los Angeles comedy club circuit, her routine eventually attracted attention leading to her being cast in guest starring roles on television.
In 1976, she landed the role of wisecracking waitress Shirley Wilson on the sitcom What’s Happening!!. The series was a modest hit for ABC, but production and cast problems caused ABC to cancel the series in 1979. The following year, Hemphill was cast in her own sitcom, One in a Million. The series failed to attract an audience and was canceled in June 1980.
Here is Fred Berry's Obituary
Fred 'Rerun' Berry Dies At 52
By Ellen Crean AP October 23, 2003, 9:56 AM
Fred Berry, the bulb-shaped, squeaky-voiced actor famous for playing red-beret-wearing Rerun on the 1970s TV sitcom "What's Happening!", has died at age 52.
Berry died Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles apparently of natural causes, police Officer Jason Lee said Wednesday. The county coroner was investigating, but friends said Berry had been ill because of a recent stroke.
He wore his red beret and suspenders in real life, and it was unclear whether he originally brought his own style to the character of Rerun or whether he was forever mimicking the goofball character that made him famous.
"What's Happening!", which ran from 1976-1979, focused on three teenage friends (Rerun, Raj and Dwayne) who learn about life, women and trouble while growing up in Los Angeles.
The name Rerun, according to Berry, referred to the character's brainlessness: In the summer, he had to rerun all the classes he failed during the school year.
Among the more famous episodes was one in which Rerun joined a bizarre cult and another in which he was busted for making bootlegged tapes of a Doobie Brothers concert.
Berry's success on the show was clouded by his heavy use of marijuana and cocaine. "There were dealers right there in the studio, people that worked there," he said in 1996.
By the time "What's Happening!" ended, Berry said he had blown more than a million dollars on drugs, cars, homes and an airplane. With no acting jobs heading his way, Berry tried to live off his fame by charging for appearances at shopping malls.
Lately, he had earned money by calling fans on the telephone, taking part in the service www.HollywoodIsCalling.com. About $30 would earn a fan a 30-second call.
Rerun brought Berry another brief moment of success in 1985, when "What's Happening!" was revived as the syndicated "What's Happening Now!" Berry quit in a contract dispute after the first season, and the show ended in 1987.
By 1986, Berry says, he abandoned drugs and started speaking to churches, schools and other groups, finally working as a minister in Madison, Ala.
He continued to dabble in show business. Berry recently appeared on the TV shows "Star Dates" on the E! Entertainment Network, MTV's "Doggy Fizzle Televizzle" with Snoop Dogg and in a cameo role in the David Spade comedy film "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star."
Berry married a dancer while in his 20s, and the two divorced, remarried and divorced again. Berry also married and divorced his second wife twice, most recently in 1991. He also married and divorced two other women.
By ANTHONY BREZNICAN
An Article from the SF Gate
APPRECIATION / Fred Berry's 'Rerun' a role to be cherished
By Peter Hartlaub Published 4:00 am PST, Monday, October 27, 2003
Fred Berry had no "Dy-no-mite" or "Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis?" Instead, the actor was a human catchphrase, using his high-pitched drawl and disco dancing antics to craft the iconic character Freddie "Rerun" Stubbs on "What's Happening!!"
While other young actors who found their fame in 1970s sitcoms spent their lives trying to break typecasting, Berry embraced the character throughout his life, wearing Rerun's trademark red beret and flashy suspenders even during public appearances.
Berry died last week at the age of 52 at his Los Angeles home. While his death didn't prompt tributes on national newscasts or a makeshift memorial on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (the actor never received that honor), a generation of television viewers quietly mourns his passing.
Berry and "What's Happening!!" emerged in 1976, at a time when television executives seemed transfixed with hip urban comedies.
While other shows in that decade typecast young black men as street toughs, basketball stars and scratching-and-surviving welfare recipients, "What's Happening!!" was about three friends who hung out at the soda shop and dealt mostly with the struggles of being a teenager. They never forgot their identity, but rarely mined stereotypes for humor or drama.
The show focused on Roger the academic whiz and Dwayne the earnest and loyal friend, but Rerun was always the heart of the show, a portly disco- dancing party that never stopped. Nicknamed because of academic shortcomings that forced him to retake classes he had failed, Rerun was always getting in jams, whether it was joining a cult or a get-rich-quick scheme or promising that he would get the Doobie Brothers to show up for a school dance.
"What's Happening!!" was unfairly maligned during its original three-year run by critics who wanted something more highbrow. But it gained a cult following in reruns. Berry and friends came back in the mid-1980s in first-run syndication under the title "What's Happening Now!!"
At the time, no other show had gone off the air and returned with most of its original cast ("Leave It to Beaver" and "Mama's Family" would follow). "What's Happening Now!!" lasted three more years, but Berry didn't. He got in his second contract dispute with the show's producers (the first came during the original run) and left after a year.
Despite his desire to walk away from the show, Berry never walked away from Rerun. While "Family Matters" star Jaleel White ditched his Urkel glasses when that program was canceled, Berry seemed comfortable playing the clown in real life as well.
Berry last starred in a sitcom in the mid-1980s, but the actor never left the cultural lexicon. He experienced a particularly strong resurgence in the year before his death, with appearances on NBC's "Scrubs" and "The Rerun Show, " the movie "Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star" and the cable reality program "Star Dates" -- in most cases playing himself.
The Elizabeth Taylor of the 1970s sitcom set, Berry battled substance abuse problems in his private life and was married six times to four women (two of his wives came back for another round). Overweight for most of his career, Berry had recently lost about 100 pounds. Earlier this year he suffered a stroke that may have led to his death.
With only one character to identify with, viewers are likely to remember Berry from his visage in the opening credits of "What's Happening Now!!" He may forever be that round goofball, chasing after a truck as Dwayne and Roger sit in the bed, urging him to run faster.
And wherever he is right now, Fred Berry probably thinks that's OK.
For more on What's Happening!! go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What%27s_Happening!!
For an episode guide go to http://web.archive.org/web/20030218223812/http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/9821/1tom-whp.txt
For Tim's TV Showcase go to http://web.archive.org/web/20090224024158/http://www.timstvshowcase.com/whatshappening.html
For some What's Happening!!!-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to https://interviews.televisionacademy.com/shows/whats-happening
� Date: Wed April 6, 2016 � Filesize: 46.7kb, 200.6kb � Dimensions: 1600 x 1066 �
Keywords: The Cast of What's Happening!!! (Links Updated 7/13/18)