'Good Times' Actor Ben Powers Dies at 64

Everett Collection
Powers with Stanis on 'Good Times.'

He played Thelma's husband on the popular CBS sitcom of the 1970s.

Ben Powers, who played Thelma's (BernNadette Stanis) husband Keith Anderson on the final season of the 1970s CBS sitcom Good Times, has died. He was 64.

Powers died April 6 in New Bedford, Mass., his family announced. No cause of death was revealed.

The actor joined the cast of Good Times for its sixth and final 1978-79 season, playing Keith, a professional football player. His character and Thelma are wed on the third episode that year, but he injures his leg while walking out of the church, straining their relationship. 

“I really liked him, he was so professional, so talented,” Stanis told The Hollywood Reporter. “Above all, he was a really nice guy. He treated me like a queen on Good Times.”

In one story arc, Keith is drunk and slaps Thelma across the face, but she returns the favor at the end of the episode. “I really smacked him,” she recalled with a laugh. “Later, he said, ‘Did you really have to do it so hard?!' ”

Stanis, a spokeswoman for the Alzheimer’s Association who has written a book, The Last Night: A Caregiver’s Journey, that comes out in July, said she lost touch with Powers in the early 1990s.

After Good Times, Powers had a regular role as "Moochie" on the CBS detective drama show, Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, from 1984-85.

Powers was seen in a small part in Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie (1980), was back with the comedy pair in Things Are Tough All Over (1982) and appeared in The Man Who Loved Women (1983), starring Burt Reynolds. He also guest-starred on shows such as Gimme a Break, Flamingo Road, The Greatest American Hero and Laverne & Shirley.

Born in Brooklyn and raised in Providence, R.I., by his grandparents, Alton "Ben" Powers attended the Rhode Island School of Design for painting and sketching before focusing on acting. 

He performed stand-up comedy routines in Providence, incorporating impressions (he did a great Johnny Mathis) and songs into his act, where he was discovered by a Hollywood agent. Gigs at the Playboy clubs in Los Angeles, New York and Boston led to a job in 1977 on the revived version of Laugh-In.

Survivors include his mother and his sisters Yvonne and Maya

April 19, 8:50 a.m.: Details added, place of death corrected to New Bedford, Mass.

Twitter: @mikebarnes4