The Real Truth Of Why Mabel King Got Fed Up & Suddenly Quit “What’s Happening”

Posted On : June 6, 2018

Actor, Ernest Lee Thomas- or as we Old Schoolers like to call him- “Roger” (or “Raj'”) from “What’s Happening” recalled some very interesting facts about his years on the show that the public never knew. One of them included what drove actress, Mabel King (who played his Mom), to walk off the show during the height of it’s success…

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For starters, we learned that Ernest is 69 years young! Can you believe that? It seems like just a few years ago he was the 19 year old “Raj” getting ratted out to his Moms by his lil’ sister, “Dee.” Aside from that, he revealed some of the major tension that went down behind the scenes of “What’s Happening”.

Here’s Why Mabel King Quit “What’s Happening”

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Prior to filming “What’s Happening,” when Ernest found out that the actress playing his mother (Mabel King) was none other than the “Wicked Witch of the West” from “The Wiz” movie, he was blown away:

“I went to see her on Broadway in The Wiz about 15 times,” says Thomas. “I loved that musical. Who knew that she’d end up playing my mother? I was in awe!” Source

Unfortunately their on-screen mother/son stint didn’t last very long. Ernest said that Mabel King was sick and tired of going at it with the show’s producers and writers over their refusal to take advantage of the show’s instant popularity to set better examples of strong Black families on television. She oftentimes instantaneously changed the script during filming and stated that the lack of positive Black roles was “one of the biggest tragedies on television.” She hated that her character remained a single Black mother who worked as a maid. Therefore, Mabel chose her personal integrity over money, by choosing to say ‘Peace out’ to the show and quit right after the first season was wrapped.

Mabel King Wanted To Remain Plus Sized For Her Career

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Ernest Lee Thomas (“Raj”) and Mabel King (“Mama”) in “What’s Happening” (screen-grab)

The late Mable King once said she always kept her weight up to 260 pounds and above during her stint on “What’s Happening,” to please the producers. She also once joked, in a late 70’s Jet Magazine interview, that if she was given a choice between food and sex, she’d choose food because she said “it would last longer and it would fill me up” she laughed.

Mabel King’s Tragic Life & Death

Throughout the 1980’s and 90’s, Ms. King suffered a stroke and had a long battle with diabetes, which eventually led to her having both legs and one arm amputated. After her long fought health battle, she passed away in November 1999.

Even though her health left her physically weak…mentally speaking, Mabel King was a very strong woman, who stood up for what she believed in. May she continue to rest peacefully.