They have never been as celebrated as the legendary Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee — who were married and often worked together for an incredible number of years and would still be together had they not transitioned — nor have they ever been fodder for the tabloids. But for over three decades, Tim Reid and Daphne Maxwell Reid have shared life and careers as husband and wife.
Reid, despite an impressive array of other accomplishments, is best known for portraying radio personality “Venus Flytrap” on the sitcom “WKRP in Cincinnati” that ran from 1978 to 1982. Mrs. Reid became familiar to America’s television viewers when she became the new Vivian Banks on the popular “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” in 1993, replacing Janet Hubert who started with the show when it debuted in 1990 but was removed from the cast due to conflicts with star Will Smith
This was a huge challenge, but she met it head-on and, with time, the public adjusted. Some felt that Reid looked more as though she could be the mother of the three Banks children, Hilary (Karyn Parsons), Carlton (Alfonso Ribeiro) and Ashley (Tatyana Ali). However, Hubert’s supporters strongly disagreed.
“WKRP in Cincinnati’s” popularity notwithstanding, Tim Reid was also a regular on three other successful series, as Marcel “Downtown” Brown on “Simon & Simon” (1983-1987), as Ray Campbell on “Sister, Sister” (1994-1999) and as William Barnett on “That ‘70s Show” (2004-2006).
But Reid’s most ambitious television project was, no doubt, the short-lived “Frank’s Place,” a very unusual, atmospheric comedy-drama (no live audience or laugh track) set in New Orleans.
THE SHOW, as critically acclaimed as it generally was, was so far “outside the box” that it had difficulty finding a sizable audience. The fact that it could not be rigidly categorized worked to its detriment. Indeed, during its second season CBS changed the time slot and the show was preempted much too often.
Interestingly, Daphne Maxwell Reid was also in the show.
“Frank’s Place” focused on the life of Frank Parrish (Reid), a professor at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. He inherited a restaurant in New Orleans, Chez Louisiane, but had every intention of selling it. The people who worked there and those who patronized it wanted the eatery and community fixture to stay open.
So a woman put a “voodoo spin” on Parrish — keep in mind this was New Orleans — and subsequently his life in New England took several turns for the worst. Having no choice, he returns to New Orleans and learns to appreciate not only the restaurant and its unique patrons but the city itself, the people and the distinctive New Orleans culture.
“Frank’s Place” only ran for two seasons — 22 episodes — but despite its short run was awarded several times, including an NAACP Image Award for Tim Reid in the Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series category and Beah Richards for Outstanding Guest Performance in a Comedy Series.
TIM REID, born in Norfolk, Virginia, earned a Bachelor of Business Administration at Norfolk State College in 1968, but that same year made the decision to make a move into the entertainment world. He and friend Tom Dreesen formed a comedy duo called Tim and Tom.
Reid, who is also a director, was seen in many TV shows from the mid-1970s up to the present, including “Rhoda,” “The Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. Show,” “That’s My Mama,” “Benson,” “Matlock,” “Touched by an Angel,” “That’s So Raven” and “Maude.” He directed the film “Once Upon a Time…When We Were Colored.”
Rejection is a major part of show business, and if a person is not strong enough to take that and still move forward, they will never make it.
“Ninety percent of the time, you’re going to hear no,” said Reid. “It took me seven years to make ‘Once Upon a Time…When We Were Colored.’ Nobody wanted to see the movie made, but I got it made.”
Reid is also an activist with strong opinions.
“How did we suddenly become entranced with gangster culture?” he asked, adding, “When the media defines something, you have to ask, ‘Is it the definition you want applied to your culture? I’m one of those trying to determine who’s leaving the legacy and if the legacy that is being left is a positive one.”
DAPHNE MAXWELL REID, born in New York City, received an interior design and architecture degree from Northwestern University, in Evanston, Illinois, where she became the first Black woman to be named homecoming queen. It was also at Northwestern that she began a career in modeling, becoming the first African American woman to grace the cover of Glamour magazine.
However she, like her husband, felt another calling.
“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” is just part of the story. Mrs. Reid has appeared in a long series of television programs, among them “Hill Street Blues,” “Hardcastle and McCormick,” “In the House,” “Snoops,” “Cagney & Lacey,” “The A-Team,” “Matt Houston” and “Murder, She Wrote.” Her television debut was made in the short-lived series “The Duke” in 1979.
One of her most memorable, and humorous, performances was a guest star appearance on “Eve.” It was worthy of at least an Emmy nomination. Kelly Rowland of Destiny’s Child was good in that episode as well.”
Mrs. Reid has also done several films.
Often, people wonder what the secret is to finding the right person and being in a lasting relationship. According to the Reids, it has a lot to do with self-respect and self-evaluation.
“If you want to find someone of a certain type or a certain caliber, you have to first have those qualities in yourself,” said Reid. “You have to be the person you want to attract. There is someone for everyone.”
Mrs. Reid offered advice to Black women who lament a shortage of desirable Black men.
She said, “Don’t give up. They come around. As Black women we have to feel that we are worthy of love and respect, and we have to learn to respect or re-respect the Black man. We need to show they are respected because we respect ourselves.”
Tim Reid and Daphne Maxwell Reid must be doing a lot of things right. They have been married for 32 years with no end in sight.