REID, REID

U.S. Actor/Producer

Tim Reid is an accomplished television actor and producer whose critically acclaimed work has, unfortunately, often failed to meet with sustained audience acceptance. As an African American, Reid has tried to choose roles and projects that help effect a positive image for the black community. Through both his acting and writing, Reid has provided important insights regarding black/white relationships and bigotry.

Being a part of show business was one of Reid's childhood dreams. Not content with simply being an actor, Reid hoped to play a vital role behind the scenes, as well. Like many young actors, he began his career as a stand-up comedian, working with Tom Dreesen as part of the comedy duet "Tim and Tom." It was during this experience that Reid began exploring the dynamics of black/white relationships. In 1978, after performing in various episodic series, Reid received the role of Venus Flytrap in Hugh Wilson's WKRP in Cincinnati. From the beginning, Reid made it clear to Wilson that he was not interested in playing just another "jive-talking" black character. Wilson agreed, eventually giving Reid control over his character's development, which culminated in a back story that revealed a much deeper character than the Flytrap persona first presented.

It was during WKRP that Reid gained experience as a writer, contributing several scripts to the series. One episode, "A Family Affair," dealt with the underlying tones of bigotry that plague even the best of friends. Reid also worked closely with Hugh Wilson on the script "Venus and the Man," in which Venus helped a young black gang member decide to return to high school. Teacher's organizations applauded the effort, and scenes from the show were reproduced, in comic book form, in Scholastic magazine.

After WKRP, Reid landed a recurring role in the detective drama Simon and Simon, for which he also wrote a number of scripts. In 1988, Reid joined forces with Wilson to co-produce one of television's finest half-hour programs--Frank's Place--which starred Reid as a Boston professor who took over his deceased father's bar in a predominately black section of New Orleans. While critics raved about the rich writing (Wilson won an Emmy for the Frank's Place script "The Bridge"), acting and photography, the series was canceled after its first season. Reid feels this was due to the constant schedule changes which afflicted the series (a problem he and Wilson experienced previously with WKRP), as well as CBS's overall dismal ratings at the time.

In 1989, Reid became executive producer of Snoops, a drama in which he starred with his wife, Daphne Maxwell Reid, as a sophisticated husband and wife detective team in the tradition of the Thin Man series. Just as with Moonlighting and Remington Steele, Snoops placed character development over mystery. Once again, despite quality scripting and performances, the show failed to find an audience. Reid has continued to appear in a variety of series, including ABC's Sister Sister, a disappointing sitcom that pales in comparison to Reid's previous work.

-Michael B. Kassel


Tim Reid
Photo courtesy of Tim Reid

TIM REID. Born in Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.A., 19 December 1944. Educated at Norfolk State College, B.B.A. 1968. Married: Daphne Maxwell, 1982; children: Tim II, Tori LeAnn, Christopher Tubbs. Marketing representative for Dupont Corporation, 1968-71; actively involved in anti-drug movement since 1969; stand-up comedian, Tim and Tom Comedy Team, 1971-75; actor in series television, from 1976; founded Timalove Enterprises, 1979; creator, producer, anti-drug video Stop the Madness, 1986; co-founded, with Black Entertainment Television, United Image Entertainment Enterprises, 1990, also co-chair; organizer and sponsor, Annual Tim Reid Celebrity Tennis Tournament, Norfolk State University campus. Member: Writers Guild of America; Screen Actors Guild; board of directors, Phoenix House of California; board of trustees, Norfolk State University, Commonwealth of Virginia; board of directors, National Academy of Cable Programming; AFTRA; life member, NAACP. Recipient: Emmy Award; Critics Choice Award, 1988; NAACP Image Award, 1988; Viewers for Quality Television Best Actor in a Comedy Award, 1988; National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame, 1991.

TELEVISION SERIES

1976 Easy Does It...Starring Frankie Avalon
1977 The Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. Show
1977 The Richard Pryor Show
1978-82 WKRP In Cincinnati
1983 Teachers Only
1983-87 Simon and Simon
1987-88 Frank's Place (also co-executive producer)
1989-90 Snoops (also co-creator, executive producer) 1994- Sister, Sister (also creator, producer)

MADE-FOR-TELEVISION MOVIES

1979 You Can't Take It With You
1990 Perry Mason: The Case of the Silenced Singer
1991 Stephen King's It
1991 The Family Business
1992 You Must Remember This
1994 Race to Freedom: The Underground Railroad
1995 Simon and Simon: In Trouble Again

FILMS

Dead Bang, 1989; The Fourth War, 1990; Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored (director), 1995

FURTHER READING

Gray, Herman. Watching Race: Television and the Struggle for "Blackness." Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995.

 

See also Comedy, Workplace; Dramedy; Frank's Place; Pryor, Richard; Racism, Ethnicity, and Television