He is known for his role as James Evans, Sr. on the CBS television series Good Times and for the 1977 miniseries Roots, for which he received an Emmy nomination.
Amos’s other television work includes The Mary Tyler Moore Show, a recurring role as Admiral Percy Fitzwallace on The West Wing, and the role of Washington, D.C. Mayor Ethan Baker in the series The District.
Amos has appeared on Broadway and in numerous films in his four-decade career. He has been nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award and an NAACP Image Award. On film, he has played numerous supporting roles in movies such as The Beastmaster, Coming to America and Die Hard 2.
Amos was featured in Disney’s The World’s Greatest Athlete (1973) with Tim Conway and Jan-Michael Vincent, and also starred as Kansas City Mack in Let’s Do It Again (1975) with Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier.
His other film appearances include Vanishing Point (1971), The President’s Plane Is Missing (1973), Touched by Love (1980), The Beastmaster (1982), Dance of the Dwarfs (1983), American Flyers (1985), Coming to America (1988), Lock Up (1989), Two Evil Eyes (1989), Die Hard 2 (1990), and Ricochet (1991).
He appeared in the 1995 film For Better or Worse and played a police officer in The Players Club (1998). He played Uncle Virgil in My Baby’s Daddy (2004), and starred as Jud in Dr. Dolittle 3 (2006). In 2012, Amos had a role in the movie Madea’s Witness Protection, as Jake’s father.
He enrolled at Long Beach City College and graduated from Colorado State University, qualifying as a social worker with a degree in sociology. Amos also played on the Colorado State Rams football team. After college, he was a Golden Glove boxing champion.
In 1964, Amos signed a free agent contract with the American Football League’s Denver Broncos. Unable to run the 40-yard dash because of a pulled hamstring, he was released on the second day of training camp.
He then played with the Canton Bulldogs and Joliet Explorers of the United Football League. In 1965, he played with the Norfolk Neptunes and Wheeling Ironmen of the Continental Football League. In 1966, he played with the Jersey City Jets and Waterbury Orbits of the Atlantic Coast Football League.
In 1967, Amos signed a free agent contract with the American Football League’s Kansas City Chiefs.
Amos is also a veteran of the 50th Armored Division of the New Jersey National Guard and Honorary Master Chief of the United States Coast Guard.