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Tim Reid

Actor, writer, producer and director Timothy L. Reid was born on December 19, 1944 in Norfolk, Virginia. As a teenager growing up in Norfolk, Reid dealt with the horrors of segregation during the height of the Civil Rights Movement in Virginia’s Tidewater area. In 1968, at the age of twenty-three, Reid received his B.A. degree in business administration from Norfolk State University.

After college, Reid moved to Chicago, taking a position as one of the first black marketing representatives with DuPont Corporation. That year, as part of the Junior Chamber of Commerce of Harvey, Illinois, Reid met Tom Dreesen, a white native of Chicago’s South Side. Devastated by the high rates of drug abuse and violence among Harvey’s teenagers, Dreesen and Reid developed an anti-drug program for students. After a presentation in 1969, an eighth-grade student told the duo she thought they were funny, and should become comedians. Receptive to the idea, the duo began to write comedic material, and formed Tim and Tom, arguably the first interracial comedic duo. Reid and Dreesen toured from 1971 to 1975, before disbanding to pursue other interests.

In 1976, Reid moved to Los Angeles, and picked up regular work on various television shows. He was subsequently cast on the Richard Pryor Show. Due to controversy and creative differences between NBC and the show’s namesake, the show was cancelled after only four episodes. A year later, however, Reid landed a spot on a hit show, playing DJ Gordon "Venus Flytrap" Sims on WKRP in Cincinnati. After the show was canceled in 1982, Reid joined the cast of another successful series, the detective drama Simon & Simon. In 1987, Reid earned critical acclaim as the co-creator, producer, writer and lead actor of Frank’s Place, a dramedy that involves the exploits of a college professor who inherits a New Orleans restaurant. Lasting twenty-two episodes, the show earned Reid several award nominations, winning an NAACP Image Award. Reid returned to television in 1993 with Sister, Sister, which starred twins Tia and Tamera Mowrey and actress Jackee Harry. Reid remained with the show for its entire six-year run. In 1995, Reid made his film directorial debut with the critically acclaimed feature film, Once Upon A Time...When We Were Colored.

In 1997, Reid co-founded New Millennium Studios with his wife, actress Daphne Maxwell Reid. In 2009, Reid established the Legacy Media Institute to train emerging filmmakers around the world. Reid has also remained active in the community, donating his time for various charitable activities.

Timothy L. Reid was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 9, 2012 & January 18, 2013.

Accession Number

A2012.067

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/9/2012 |and| 1/18/2013

Last Name

Reid

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Norfolk State University

Ruffner Middle School

Laurie E. Titus Elementary School

Crestwood High School

St. Mary's Catholic School

First Name

Tim

Birth City, State, Country

Norfolk

HM ID

REI03

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Florence, Italy

Favorite Quote

Be Careful What You Ask For, You Just May Get It

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Virginia

Birth Date

12/19/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Petersburg

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Italian Food

Short Description

Film actor Tim Reid (1944 - ) is the co-founder New Millennium Studios with his wife Daphne Maxwell Reid, and founder of Legacy Media Institute.

Employment

E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont)

NBC - 'The Richard Pryor Show' (Television show)

'WKRP in Cincinnati'

New Millenium Studios

Legacy Media Institute

Favorite Color

Royal Blue, Yellow

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Tim Reid's interview, session 1

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Tim Reid lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Tim Reid talks about his mother's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Tim Reid describes his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Tim Reid talks about his father's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Tim Reid describes reconnecting with his paternal great uncle

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Tim Reid describes his childhood trips to Whaleyville, Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Tim Reid remembers developing an interest in storytelling

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Tim Reid talks about his paternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Tim Reid describes the secrecy surrounding his biological father's identity

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Tim Reid describes being adopted by his biological father

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Tim Reid describes his likeness to his parents and paternal grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Tim Reid remembers repairing his relationship with his mother before she passed away

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Tim Reid describes being raised by his mother in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Tim Reid remembers being punished at St. Mary's Catholic school

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Tim Reid recalls his mother's response to his being punished at St. Mary's Catholic school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Tim Reid describes moving between Baltimore, Maryland and Norfolk, Virginia as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Tim Reid remembers being selected to go on stage during a performance by George "Gabby" Hayes

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Tim Reid describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Tim Reid describes advantages of attending Crestwood High School in Chesapeake, Virginia

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Tim Reid describes the schools he attended and his demeanor as a student

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Tim Reid describes being raised by his biological father and his stepmother in Norfolk, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Tim Reid describes his family's attitude toward education and his educational experience at Crestwood High School

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Tim Reid recalls influential teachers from Crestwood High School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Tim Reid describes his educational and work experiences during segregation

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Tim Reid reflects upon surviving segregation and how it impacted his outlook

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Tim Reid talks about Virginia's African American history

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Tim Reid remembers visiting his mother when she worked as a live-in domestic for a white family in New York

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Tim Reid recalls an experience at a segregated restaurant in Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Tim Reid recalls his perspective on school integration as a student in Norfolk, Virginia

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Tim Reid reflects upon his time at Crestwood High School

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Tim Reid remembers his interest in the arts at Crestwood High School

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Tim Reid describes his father's social and political influence in Chesapeake, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Tim Reid remembers his father's nightclub business in the early 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Tim Reid explains how he entered Norfolk State College in Norfolk, Virginia

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Tim Reid remembers participating in the March on Washington and joining Norfolk State College's NAACP Chapter

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Tim Reid describes his participation in Norfolk State College's NAACP Chapter in 1965

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Tim Reid describes his political mentors at Norfolk Sate College

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Tim Reid remembers being Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s bodyguard at New Cavalry Baptist Church

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Tim Reid remembers his initial experience with acting at Norfolk State College

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Tim Reid remembers his interview with DuPont in Wilmington, Delaware

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Tim Reid remembers moving to Chicago, Illinois during the 1968 riot after Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Tim Reid describes moving to his first home in suburban Markham, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Tim Reid remembers his paternal grandmother's visit to Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Tim Reid recalls meeting Tom Dreesen

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Tim Reid describes his impression of Tom Dreesen and the beginning of their comedy act in the late 1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Tim Reid describes his financial success while working for E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Tim Reid describes being the first black employee in management at E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Tim Reid describes leaving his position at DuPont to enter show business

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Tim Reid describes how he profited from gold stock in the 1970s

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Tim Reid describes his friendship with HistoryMaker Della Reese and the breakup of his act, Tim and Tom

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Tim Reid remembers witnessing Tom Dreesen's success as a solo comic

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Tim Reid reflects upon what he learned from his friendship with HistoryMaker Della Reese

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Tim Reid explains why he left his marriage with Rita Sykes Reid

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Tim Reid describes moving from California to Washington, D.C. to pursue his solo comic career in the mid-1970s

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Tim Reid describes his time as a comic in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Tim Reid describes his television roles on 'Easy Does It...Starring Frankie Avalon' and 'WKRP in Cincinnati'

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Tim Reid remembers his return to performing stand-up comedy in Washington, D.C. while on 'WKRP in Cincinnati'

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Tim Reid remembers being chosen to perform on 'The Richard Pryor Show'

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Tim Reid remembers improvised skits from 'The Richard Pryor Show'

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Tim Reid describes parallels between his and Richard Pryor's upbringings

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Tim Reid talks about his experience with a racist television director

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Tim Reid recalls his audition for the role of Venus Flytrap on 'WKRP in Cincinnati'

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Tim Reid describes the creation of the episode "Who Is Gordon Sims?" on 'WKRP in Cincinnati'

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Tim Reid describes the 'WKRP in Cincinnati' episode, "Who Is Gordon Sims?"

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Tim Reid describes his career following the cancellation of 'WKRP in Cincinnati'

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Tim Reid describes his travels to Spain as a television producer for Penthouse magazine

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Tim Reid remembers proposing to HistoryMaker Daphne Maxwell Reid and being cast in 'Teachers Only'

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Tim Reid talks about the importance of respect in relationships

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Tim Reid talks about 'Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored' being excluded from Ebony's top one hundred movies list

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Tim Reid talks about black Hollywood

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Tim Reid reflects upon his transition from standup comedy to acting

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Slating of Tim Reid's interview, session 2

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Tim Reid describes the impact of the 'WKRP in Cincinnati' episode, "Who Is Gordon Sims?"

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Tim Reid describes the cancellation of 'WKRP in Cincinnati'

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Tim Reid describes becoming a television producer for Penthouse magazine

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Tim Reid describes his experience as television producer for Penthouse magazine

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Tim Reid recalls being hired for the television show, 'Teachers Only'

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Tim Reid describes playing Lt. Marcel "Downtown" Brown on 'Simon & Simon'

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Tim Reid describes his departure from 'Simon & Simon'

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Tim Reid describes the series, 'Frank's Place,' pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 10 - Tim Reid describes multigenerational storytelling in 'Frank's Place'

Tape: 8 Story: 11 - Tim Reid describes the series, 'Frank's Place,' pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 12 - Tim Reid describes his meeting with William S. Paley

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Tim Reid describes responses to the series, 'Frank's Place,' pt. 1

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Tim Reid describes the 'Frank's Place' episode, "The King of Wall Street"

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Tim Reid recalls the cancellation of 'Frank's Place'

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Tim Reid describes the setting of 'Frank's Place' in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Tim Reid describes responses to the series, 'Frank's Place,' pt. 2

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Tim Reid remembers showing episodes of 'Frank's Place' in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Tim Reid describes the impetus for the show 'Snoops'

Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Tim Reid describes shooting the show 'Snoops'

Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Tim Reid remembers watching old films with his grandmother

Tape: 9 Story: 10 - Tim Reid describes his hiatus from show business after 'Snoops'

Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Tim Reid describes the film, 'The Fourth War'

Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Tim Reid describes being cast in 'Perry Mason' and 'Stephen King's It'

Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Tim Reid remembers the expansion of Starbucks in the late 1980s

Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Tim Reid describes Tim Curry's appearance in 'Stephen King's It'

Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Tim Reid remembers being cast as Dr. Lorenzo Lozano in the series, 'Zorro'

Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Tim Reid recalls appearing in a beer commercial directed by Richard Lester, pt. 1

Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Tim Reid recalls appearing in a beer commercial directed by Richard Lester, pt. 2

Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Tim Reid describes his television and film roles in the early 1990s

Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Tim Reid remembers his experience on the TV series 'Sister, Sister'

Tape: 10 Story: 10 - Tim Reid describes the impact of The TV series 'Sister, Sister'

Tape: 10 Story: 11 - Tim Reid describes his relationship with Tia and Tamera Mowry

Tape: 10 Story: 12 - Tim Reid reflects upon fatherhood

Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Tim Reid describes the impact of 'Sister, Sister' for his audience following

Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Tim Reid describes the TV movie, 'Race for Freedom: The Underground Railroad,' pt. 1

Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Tim Reid describes the TV movie, 'Race to Freedom: The Underground Railroad,' pt. 2

Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Tim Reid describes the success of his film, 'The Runaways'

Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Tim Reid reflects upon his education in history

Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Tim Reid describes his career in the 1990s

Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Tim Reid recalls securing rights for the film, 'Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored'

Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Tim Reid describes casting the film, 'Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored'

Tape: 11 Story: 9 - Tim Reid describes the impact of the film, 'Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored'

Tape: 11 Story: 10 - Tim Reid recalls an emergency situation while filming 'Once Upon a Time...When We Were Colored'

Tape: 11 Story: 11 - Tim Reid describes shooting the film, 'Once Upon a Time...When We Are Colored'

Tape: 11 Story: 12 - Tim Reid reflects upon representations of African American culture

Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Tim Reid describes the Showtime series, 'Linc's'

Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Tim Reid describes filming the Showtime series, 'Linc's'

Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Tim Reid describes his roles in 'Just Deserts' and 'Alley Cats Strike'

Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Tim Reid describes New Millennium Studios' productions

Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Tim Reid describes the impact of New Millennium Studios

Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Tim Reid describes the foundation of Legacy Media Institute

Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Tim Reid describes his plans for New Millennium Studios

Tape: 12 Story: 8 - Tim Reid describes his plans for filmmaking

Tape: 12 Story: 9 - Tim Reid describes the importance of the Thirteenth Amendment

Tape: 12 Story: 10 - Tim Reid describes Elizabeth Keckley's dressmaking

Tape: 12 Story: 11 - Tim Reid describes documentary projects he would like to produce

Tape: 13 Story: 1 - Tim Reid describes Maggie L. Walker's history

Tape: 13 Story: 2 - Tim Reid describes his documentary subjects, pt. 1

Tape: 13 Story: 3 - Tim Reid describes his documentary subjects, pt. 2

Tape: 13 Story: 4 - Tim Reid describes the creation of the film, 'For Real'

Tape: 13 Story: 5 - Tim Reid describes the relationship between Blockbuster and New Millennium Studios

Tape: 13 Story: 6 - Tim Reid describes film marketing and distribution systems

Tape: 13 Story: 7 - Tim Reid reflects upon his life, pt. 1

Tape: 13 Story: 8 - Tim Reid reflects upon his community values

Tape: 13 Story: 9 - Tim Reid reflects upon his life, pt. 2

Tape: 13 Story: 10 - Tim Reid describes his concerns for the African American community

Tape: 14 Story: 1 - Tim Reid reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 14 Story: 2 - Tim Reid describes his children, pt. 1

Tape: 14 Story: 3 - Tim Reid describes his children, pt. 2

Tape: 14 Story: 4 - Tim Reid describes his relationship with HistoryMaker Daphne Maxwell Reid

Tape: 14 Story: 5 - Tim Reid describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

2$2

DATape

8$10

DAStory

10$9

DATitle
Tim Reid describes multigenerational storytelling in 'Frank's Place'
Tim Reid remembers his experience on the TV series 'Sister, Sister'
Transcript
What were some of the aspects of 'Frank's Place' that you tweaked that were different from what the usual sitcom would, would have? I mean (unclear) (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) God, I mean there're--it's like--we could almost do--matter of fact, there have been college courses on, on that particular subject, how different was that show compared to what was being shown, in terms of black characterizations, and also, black-white relationships in the South and the North. Well, one of the--first glaring one that most people didn't accept it, didn't pay much attention to, was the multi-generational aspects of the black community. I mean we had a character on there, who at the time we hired her, was like seventy-something years old. I mean she could barely move about without the aid of cane, and, and she is one of the most dramatic and most interesting women I've ever met in my life, Miss Marie, Frances Williams. She studied with [Konstantin] Stanislavski. She had, she had been befriended and been a partner of Paul Robeson. She had, she and he had hid out from--in Mexico for years when he was being--$$Wow.$$--(laughter) chased by the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation]. She had, she had given [HistoryMaker] Maya Angelou her start. She started--this woman was a, unbelievable woman, and here she is playing this, this waitress emeritus who only waited on people who had been coming there thirty years or more. And you have her. You have Mr. Charlie Lampkin, one of the best jazz musicians who had been forgotten in the era of jazz, and different man, I mean unusual character, who would sit and tell stories off, off the set about the great days of, of Hollywood--not only Hollywood, music and working in Paris [France]. And then we had, you know, Big Arthur, had just been in, you know, a hit from 'Rocky.' I mean we had these interest--then we had this, one of the first times you ever saw a Jewish, Southern lawyer in a series, you know, played by [Robert] Harper, Bubba Weisberger [Bubba "Si" Weisberger], I mean (laughter), I mean it was really a multi-generational, young, old, middle aged, all these characters from different lifestyles. I'm an educated college professor, but I didn't know diddly from these people. They were, they were earth, street, you know, people who lived by their, their wits and their, and their ability to survive. And so we were able to deal with a different kind of story in a different way. I haven't seen the multi-generational storytelling in television since. I'm seeing a little more in, in some of the white stories--white sitcoms, in 'Modern Family,' a few of 'em where you're beginning, you get a little more multi-generational. But we see it in Europe all the time. I spent a lot of time in Europe and Italy. You see multi-generational stories. You see it in Brazil, but in America, we, we shy away from multi-generalization in terms of storytelling or multi-generations coming together and, and existing as it is in real life.$Ninety-four [1994] is the year that you started working on 'Sister, Sister,' right?$$Yeah.$$With the Mowry twins [Tia Mowry-Hardrict and Tamera Mowry-Housley] and--$$With the Mowry twins. When I first saw 'em, they had just turned thirteen. And now they're mothers. It's--they were two of the most honestly, naturally, loving young ladies I've met. I mean they really are wonderful people, very talented. The voices--can sing and dance and they're really, really nice young ladies. I gave 'em a hard time, by the way (laughter). I really gave 'em a hard time.$$Do you have any stories about it (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) I said, you know, "You guys are too clean. You go to church three or four times a week. You need to see a little, just a little devilishness around you," (laughter). I think the first time they ever heard the, the F word was out of my lips, the first time (laughter). I mean they just--I would shock them, not purposely. I just, I am who I am, and I--and Jackee [HistoryMaker Jackee Harry] and I would get into sometimes very heated debates. And I (laughter), they would--sometimes I'd say, "Put your hand over your ears. Jackee and I are going at it," you know. But it's funny, I've seen them a few times since they've become adults, and they often, they sit down and laugh. And they hear what they thought of me, and what was going on, and Jackee at that time was really nice. But in a strange way, we had an impact on each other. I mean I, I have--I was getting a little, what's the word? Negative about young people at that time. I was like, you know, you get older and you get like, ah, these young kids coming in the business. Yeah, these--they don't, they--entitled and all that. And they kind of made me realize a little something about young people, you know. Not all, you know, it's not all, but not only that, you know, it's their time. I mean don't, don't get bitter because time is moving. Change. And they really--they sort of reintroduced me to, to the nobility of, of youth. And I think I introduced them to a side of life that (laughter) they must have needed (laughter). But we had a wonderful six years. It was sometimes difficult for me. I was torn between building a studio back here [Petersburg, Virginia] at the time. I wasn't crazy about a couple of the producers we had. We used to get into conflict, but the show--I never watched the show, by the way. I, I don't think I watched or have watched--six years, I don't think I've watched maybe five or six episodes in the whole time. And recently, I, I catch myself, you know, something will go by. I stop and look at it. But I saw one of the episodes not too long ago, and I have to say, I was, I was delightfully surprised on how it held up. And it made me laugh, and it made me think I wish I had been more there. I don't mean as a performer, but I mean as realizing where I was, and who I was working with. They were very talented people, good writers. Now don't let--don't ever tell them I said that, but they were, they were very good writers.