Mike Evans often talked about becoming an actor
Who knew the kid from next door giving New Yorker Archie Bunker a hard time was from Salisbury?
Well, some folks here surely knew.
Mike Evans, who played Lionel Jefferson, son of dry-cleaning tycoon George Jefferson, on “All in the Family” and later on “The Jeffersons” was born in Salisbury Nov. 3, 1949. Evans died of throat cancer Dec. 14 at the age of 57.
He was the youngest son of Dr. Theodore Evans, who practiced dentistry on East Council Street, and Annie Sue Murdock Evans. In 1972, after Evans had begun appearing on “All in the Family,” the Post’s Sylvia Wiseman wrote that his parents had divorced and that he lived with his mother on Old Concord Road as a youngster.
His family moved to Los Angeles when Evans was around 3 years old. He returned to North Carolina as a teenager and attended a private boarding school near Greensboro, the Post’s article said. On holidays from school, and during later visits to North Carolina, he stayed with relatives living on a farm in Lexington. He once said the things he associated with North Carolina were “snow, a horse and chickens.”
His father and the uncle from Lexington, the Rev. Anias Evans, were Livingstone College graduates but not Salisbury natives.
Lillie Mae Evans, his aunt, said in the 1970 Post article that Evans often talked of becoming an actor, but his family “had no idea it would come true.” She also called him “the most courteous” member of the family.
After graduating, he returned to Los Angeles, where his father, Dr. Evans, died of a heart attack at his dentistry practice in 1970, nearly a year before his son became a regular on the hit show about a bigoted Queens man, his family and neighbors.
When his television father, George Jefferson took his family and moved on up to the east side of Manhattan in a 1975 spin-off, Evans went along. He left the show for a few years and was replaced by another actor, but returned in 1979.
His other acting credits included an episode of 1970s police drama “The Streets of San Francisco” and the 1976 miniseries “Rich Man, Poor Man.” Evans also co-created and wrote for the popular 1970s sitcom “Good Times.”
His last role was in a 2000 episode of “Walker, Texas Ranger.”In recent years he had invested in real estate in southern California.
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