Thursday, November 3, 2005

‘What’s Happening!!’ Star Turns NBA Stars Into Children

LOS ANGELES (Wireless Flash - FlashNews) – Although the sitcom What’s Happening!! had its heyday in the 1970s, the show still has the effect of turning athletes into children.

That’s what actor Ernest Thomas – who played “Raj” – has discovered in the 25 years since the original series went off the air.

Thomas says the show has allowed him to befriend NBA stars like Kobe Bryant and Allen Iverson and claims Shaquille O’Neal always imitates his character’s “Raj dance” whenever they meet.

But athletes aren’t the only ones who are into What’s Happening!! Thomas met one former prisoner who told him the show inspired him to go straight and pursue a career as a standup.

There used to be times when Thomas worried about being typecast by the character but changed his tune after Muhummad Ali reminded him how lucky he was to be on the show because it made him someone who everyone smiles at when they meet him.

Thomas should have more smiles than ever starting Saturday (Nov. 5) when TV Land adds to the show to its nightly lineup with a special 48-hour marathon.

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