Warner, Malcolm-Jamal 1970–
Malcolm-Jamal Warner 1970–
America watched him grow up as the lovable, only male child in the Huxtable family on the 1980s hit The Cosby Show. But like other successful child actors who made good as adults, there is more to Malcolm-Jamal Warner’s talent than meets the eye. He has gone on to star in another popular television series, Malcolm & Eddie, and has expanded his career to include directing and music.
Born on August, 18, 1970, in Jersey City, New Jersey, Warner was named for Malcolm X and Ahmad Jamal. His parents, Pamela, who would be his manager, and Robert, divorced when he was two years old. Three years later, he and his mother moved to Los Angeles. Warner told Haute Zine that when he was in elementary school he was “the dreamer, the talker, and the kid learning that to be a leader you have to also know how to listen.” According to Warner, he was introduced to acting at age nine, and out of all the many activities his mother encouraged him to try, he quickly developed a taste for theater.
Although Warner would grow up to be a prolific actor, director, and musician, like many child stars before him, he will always be known to many by his most prominent childhood role, Theo Huxtable, on the hugely popular The Cosby Show. Warner told TV Guide that carrying Theo with him used to irritate him, because he had many other talents and could play many other roles. “But as I look at it now, they still call Ron Howard ‘Opie’—so I can’t complain…. If he’s not bothered by it, I see no reason to be.” In 1988 Warner published his book about the show and the business called Theo and Me: Growing Up Okay.
The Cosby Show ran from 1984 until 1992. Although the show was sometimes criticized, according to People Magazine, for not being “black enough, for not taking on issues like racism and poverty,” this omission was deliberate. The show was supposed to be about a family, that happened to be black, not about politically charged subjects. An undisputed ratings champion, the show, and its cast, received six Emmy Awards and numerous nominations. One of the first portrayals of the African-American middle class family on prime time, the Huxtables were lovable, believable, and funny. The long-awaited reunion show aired on May 19, 2002, with all of the original cast members except Lisa Bonet.
Career: Actor, 1984-; director, 1989s musician, 1990s-, Television series: The Cosby Show, 1984-92; Here and Now, 1992-93; The Magic School Bus, 1994-98; Malcolm & Eddie, 1996-00; Jeremiah, 20O2-; films: The Father Clements Story, 1987; Drop Zone, 1994; Tyson, 1995; The Tuskegee Airmen, 1995; Restaurant, 1998; A Fare to Remember, 1998.
Memberships: National PTA, honorary youth chairperson; Miracle Network Telethon, national chairman; Black Family Reunion Celebration, co-chair.
Address: P. O., Box 69646, Los Angeles, CA, 69646.
Warner counts Bill Cosby among his heroes, one of only a select four he points to for his success: God, his parents, and Cosby. He told Haute Zine, “Growing up watching Mr. Cosby working hard despite his success totally solidified that work ethic for me. Success in this business is not so much about achieving, but sustaining over the long haul.”
In addition to fame and fortune, The Cosby Show gave Warner an interest in working behind the camera. He went on to direct episodes of Cosby, including a tribute to the show, and episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Kenan & Kel, and Malcolm & Eddie, as well as movies and many music videos. In 1994 he was the first celebrity director of Sesame Street.
As for acting roles, Warner went on to star in other sitcoms, including the short-lived Here and Now and Malcolm & Eddie. The latter ran from 1996 to 2000, and during those four years he played opposite comedian Eddie Griffin. Warner was frustrated, however, by the network’s stereotyping of African Americans. He told TV Guide that even though the stereotypes might work, “there are various other ways African-Americans can be funny.” He did take at least one thing away from his time on the show—his longtime girlfriend, Karen Malina White, a former castmate.
Warner later preferred to do more serious roles, rather than comedy. In movies, he’s had serious roles in The Father Clements Story, Drop Zone, The Tuskegee Airmen, Tyson, and Restaurant, among others. On stage, he’s appeared in plays on the stages of the Astor Place Theatre, the La Jolla Playhouse, and the Victory Garden Theatre.
In 2002 Warner joined the cast of Jeremiah, a cable series based on a comic book by Belgian Herman Huppen. In the show’s world, a plague wiped out the post-puberty human population. A decade and a half later, no one alive is older than their twenties. Hollywood Reporter dubbed the world of Jeremiah “Lord of the Flies times a thousand.” Warner’s character, Kurdy, was, according to the Hollywood Reporter, a “badass,” wholly unlike his previous television roles.
Warner has also done voice roles for the animated series The Magic School Bus, as well as for a children’s video called The Legend of the Candy Cane. He also wrote the foreword for the 2001 coffee table book, Authentic Hair. In addition, he wrote and read performance poetry.
But his later passion was music. Warner was bass player, both electric and upright, for a jazz/funk band called Miles Long, and was co-owner and producer, with Lionel Cole, of a record label called The Wonder Factory. The label produced the work of Miles Long as well as that of several other alternative bands and individuals. Having his own label allowed Warner and his band to have complete control over their music. He told Haute Zine that the label was designed to be “a safe haven for artists who don’t want to compromise their art for the sake of getting a record deal.”
In his private life, Warner worked for civic causes, mostly those that benefit children and youth. In addition to an AIDS video he directed, he has hosted and directed programs about violence. In an interview with Haute Zine, he noted, “I’ve been a working actor for almost 20 years and a working director for about 11 of those years. As an adult, I’ve realized that the acting, directing, writing, poetry, the music are all the same to me—avenues with which I can express my creativity. This is the first time since I was 9 years old that I’m doing something solely out of the desire.”
The Cosby Show, 1984-92.
Here and Now, 1992-93.
The Magic School Bus, 1994-98.
Malcolm & Eddie, 1996-00.
The Father Clements Story, 1987.
Drop Zone, 1994.
The Tuskegee Airmen, 1995.
A Fare to Remember, 1998.
Almanac of Famous People, Volume 6, Gale Group, 1998.
The Complete Marquis Who’s Who, Marquis Who’s Who, 2001.
Who’s Who Among African Americans, 14th Edition, Gale Group, 2001.
Black Issues Book Review, September 2001, p. 35.
Essence, August 1995, Vol. 26, p. 56.
Hollywood Reporter, March 1, 2002, p. 16.
People Weekly, May 20, 2002, p. 140.
Publishers Weekly, November 21, 2001, p. 23.
—Helene Barker Kiser
Warner, Malcolm-Jamal 1970–
Warner, Malcolm-Jamal 1970–
(Malcolm Jamal-Warner, Malcolm Jamal Warner)
Born August 18, 1970, in Jersey City, NJ; son of Robert (a drug counselor) and Pamela (a talent manager) Warner; married Karen Malina White. Education: Professional Children's School, Manhattan, NY, graduated with honors; majored in film at New York University. Avocational Interests: Music, playing basketball.
Actor, director, and producer. Began career at age nine; appeared in print ads for Kool Aid; appeared in television commercials for Walt Disney World; front man of Miles Long, a jazz-funk band. Spokesperson for Smoke Free Generation; honorary youth chairperson for the National Parent Teacher Association; active in anti-drug campaign for teenagers.
Screen Actors Guild, Osmond Foundations Miracle Network (national chairman).
Young Artist Award, best young supporting actor, 1985, Emmy Award nomination, outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series, 1986, Young Artist Award nomination, best young male superstar in television, 1988, Young Artist Award (with others), best young actor/actress ensemble in a television comedy, drama series or special, 1989, Young Artist Award, best young actor supporting role in a television series, 1990, TV Land Award nomination (with others), favorite singing siblings, 2006, all for The Cosby Show; Image Award nomination, outstanding supporting actor, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), 1996, for Touched by an Angel; Image Award nomination, outstanding actor in a comedy series, 2001, for Malcolm & Eddie; BET Comedy Award nomination, outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series, Black Entertainment Television, 2005, for Listen Up.
Television Appearances; Series:
Theodore Huxtable, The Cosby Show, NBC, 1984-92.
Host, Saturday Morning Videos, 1990.
Alexander "A. J." James, Here and Now, NBC, 1992.
Host, CBS Storybreak, CBS, 1993-95.
The producer, The Magic School Bus (also known as Scholastic's "The Magic School Bus"), PBS, 1994-97.
Malcolm McGee, Malcolm & Eddie, UPN, 1996-2000.
Host, Lyric Cafe, Black Entertainment Television, 2002.
Kurdy, Jeremiah, Showtime, 2002-2004.
Bernie Widmer, Listen Up, CBS, 2004-2005.
Television Appearances; Movies:
Joey, The Father Clements Story, NBC, 1987.
Cullen Sturgis, Mother's Day (also known as Lethal Error and Vindicated: A Mother's War), 1989.
Rory Holloway, Tyson, HBO, 1995.
Leroy Jonas Cappy, The Tuskegee Airmen, HBO, 1995.
(As Malcolm Jamal-Warner) Randy, The List, ABC Family, 2007.
Television Appearances; Specials:
Motown Returns to the Apollo, 1985.
Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, NBC, 1985.
Fast Copy, 1985.
Night of 100 Stars II, 1985.
The 37th Annual Prime Time Emmy Awards, ABC, 1985.
Andy Williams and the NBC Kids Search for Santa, NBC, 1985.
NBC's 60th Anniversary Celebration, NBC, 1986.
Host, Disneyland's Summer Vacation Party, 1986.
Walt Disney World Celebrity Circus, 1987.
A Star-Spangled Celebration, 1987.
Comic Relief II, 1987.
Presenter, The 19th Annual NAACP Image Awards, NBC, 1987.
The 13th Annual People's Choice Awards, CBS, 1987.
Super Bloopers and New Practical Jokes, NBC, 1988.
The 20th Annual NAACP Image Awards, NBC, 1988.
NBC team member, Battle of the Network Stars XIX, ABC, 1988.
Friday Night Surprise!, 1988.
National Basketball Players Association Awards, syndicated, 1989.
Best Catches, CBS, 1989.
Host, Smithsonian Institution: Americas Time Machine, syndicated, 1989.
Cullen Sturgis, Mothers Day, CBN, 1989.
The 5th Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards, syndicated, 1990.
The Greatest Practical Jokes of All Time, NBC, 1990.
Big Bird's Birthday; or, Let Me Eat Cake, PBS, 1991.
The 5th Annual American Comedy Awards, ABC, 1991.
Panelist, Summit for the '90s, TBS, 1991.
Straight out of Brooklyn, 1991.
Host, Cool Moves—Teens Together, PBS, 1991.
Voice of Spinner, Spider Junior High, HBO, 1991.
Goodwill ambassador, Children's Miracle Network Television, syndicated, 1991.
The Real Malcolm X (documentary), CBS, 1992.
Host, The Last Laugh: Memories of the Cosby Show, 1992.
Host, Taco Bell Presents "The USA Music Challenge," 1992.
NBA All-Star Stay in School Jam, 1992.
The 25th NAACP Image Awards, NBC, 1993.
In a New Light '93, 1993.
Host, Great Television Moments: What We Watched, 1993.
Host, Gangs: Dreams Under Fire, 1993.
Host, Your Favorite Commercials, 1994.
Host, Apollo Theatre Hall of Fame (also known as Met Life Presents "The Apollo Theatre Hall of Fame"), 1994.
Host, Kids Killing Kids/Kids Saving Kids, 1994.
Jim Thorpe Pro Sports Awards, ABC, 1994.
TV's Funniest Families 2: The Kids, 1995.
Panelist, Summit '95, 1995.
Presenter, Nickelodeon's 8th Annual Kids' Choice Awards, Nickelodeon, 1995.
The producer, "The Magic School Bus" Family Holiday Special, 1996.
Host, It's Hot in Here: UPN Fall Preview, UPN, 1996.
True Stories from Touched by an Angel, 1998.
TV Guide's 40th Anniversary, 1998.
The 12th Annual Soul Train Music Awards, syndicated, 1998.
The Source Hip-Hop Music Awards 1999, UPN, 1999.
Teen Files: The Truth About Violence, UPN, 1999.
Host, Prism Awards 2000, syndicated, 2000.
Child Stars: Their Story, Arts and Entertainment, 2000.
The 6th Annual Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards, syndicated, 2000.
Rusty, Legend of the Candy Cane, 2001.
Inside TV Land: African Americans in Television, TV Land, 2002.
NBC 75th Anniversary Special (also known as NBC 75th Anniversary Celebration), NBC, 2002.
TV Guide 50 Best Shows of All Time: A 50th Anniversary Celebration, ABC, 2002.
"The Cosby Show": A Look Back, NBC, 2002.
Narrator, Child Stars: Then and Now, NBC, 2003.
Retosexual: The 80's, VH1, 2004.
Host, The 31st Annual People's Choice Awards, CBS, 2005.
100 Greatest Kid Stars, VH1, 2005.
TV's Funniest Moments, Fox, 2007.
Television Appearances; Pilots:
Friday Night Surprise, NBC, 1988.
Bernie Widmer, Listen Up, CBS, 2004.
Television Appearances; Episodic:
Himself, One to Grow On, 1982.
Johnny Randolph, "Stop the Presses," Matt Houston, 1982.
Lucas Boyd, "Ending on a High Note," Fame, 1983.
"A Nation Divided," Call to Glory, ABC, 1984.
Charlie Curtis, "A Desperate Exit," ABC Afterschool Specials, ABC, 1986.
Host, Saturday Night Live (also known as SNL), NBC, 1986.
Himself, "The Network," Matlock, NBC, 1987.
Theo, "My Dinner with Theo," A Different World, 1988.
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, NBC, 1988.
Theo, "Risky Business," A Different World, 1989.
SPC Sweet, "The Volunteer," Tour of Duty, 1989.
Himself, "Someday Your Prince Will Be in Effect," The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, NBC, 1990.
Guest, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, 1991.
Eric, "Cased Up," The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, NBC, 1991.
The Arsenio Hall Show, syndicated, 1992.
"Surviving a Break-up," ABC Afterschool Specials, ABC, 1992.
Family Edition, 1992.
"I Hate the Way I Look," ABC Afterschool Specials, ABC, 1994.
The Word, 1994.
All That, Nickelodeon, 1995.
Zack, "There But for the Grace of God," Touched by an Angel, CBS, 1995.
Host, "Kids Killing Kids," CBS Schoolbreak Special, CBS, 1995.
"The Ripple Effect," Moloney, CBS, 1997.
Instant Comedy with the Groundlings, Fox, 1998.
The Famous Jett Jackson, 1998.
Hollywood Squares (also known as H2 and H2: Hollywood Squares), CBS and syndicated, 1998, 1999.
R. J., "My Brother's Keeper," Sliders, Fox, 1999.
Happy Hour, 1999.
"Teen Files: The Truth About Violence," The Teen Files, 1999.
"Child Stars," VH-1 Where Are They Now?, VH1, 2000.
Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry (also known as Def Poetry and Def Poetry Jam), HBO, 2002.
Voice of Lester Biggs, "Duped," Static Shock (animated), The WB, 2002.
The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn (also known as The Late Late Show), CBS, 2004.
The View, ABC, 2005.
Celebrity Poker Showdown, Bravo, 2005.
Tavis Smiley, PBS, 2005.
"Perfect 10's the Women," TV Land's Top Ten, TV Land, 2005.
"Characters You Love to Hate," TV Land's Top Ten, TV Land, 2005.
"Greatest TV Romances," TV Land's Top Ten, TV Land, 2005.
Rita's lawyer, "Seeing Red," Dexter, Showtime, 2006.
Also appeared as host, Friday Night Videos, NBC.
Television Work; Series:
Executive consultant, Here and Now, 1992.
Producer, Malcolm & Eddie, UPN, 1998-99.
Supervising producer, Malcolm & Eddie, UPN, 1999-2000.
Television Work; Specials:
Executive producer and director, The Last Laugh: Memories of the Cosby Show, 1992.
Executive producer and director, All AX-S, 1993.
Director, One on One with Magic Johnson, 1994.
Director, All That, 1994.
Additional material director, "All That" 10th Anniversary Reunion Special, Nickelodeon, 2005.
Also worked as coproducer of four specials for young people.
Television Director; Episodic:
The Cosby Show, NBC, 1990-92.
"Vying for Attention," The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, 1990.
Sesame Street, PBS, 1994.
All That, Nickelodeon, 1994.
Kenan & Kel, Nickelodeon, 1996.
Malcolm & Eddie, UPN, 1997-2000.
Himself, Teen Vid I, 1991.
Himself, Time Out: The Truth about HIV, AIDS, and You, Paramount, 1992.
Himself, For Our Children, 1993.
Terry Nessip, Drop Zone, United International Pictures, 1994.
Steven, Restaurant, Palisades Pictures, 1998.
Winter Valen, A Fare to Remember, Bent Tree Productions, 1998.
Samuel, Reflections: A Story of Redemption (short), 2004.
Randy, The List, Shoreline Entertainment, 2006.
Miles Long Band, Contraditions of the Heart, 2006.
Himself, Sound, Verses, Fury (documentary; also known as Soundvsfury), 2007.
Director and producer, This Old Man, 1991.
Director, Time Out: The Truth about HIV, AIDS, and You, Paramount, 1992.
Frankie, Three Ways Home, Astor Place Theatre, New York City, 1988.
Also appeared as Lolo Lamont Leonard Lawrence Liston, Jr., Babes; Tin Man, Alice Is That You?
Show Off! A Kid's Guide to Being Cool, 1986.
Himself, New Edition Past and Present, 1989.
Also hosted Home Alone: A Kid's Guide to Playing It Safe on Your Own.
Music Videos (as performer):
Whodini's "Funky Beat," 1986.
Himself, "Liberian Girl," Michael Jackson: HIStory on Film—Volume II, 1997.
Music Videos (as director):
New Edition Past and Present, 1989.
Television Episode Stories:
"Sibling Rivalry," Malcolm & Eddie, UPN, 1997.
(With Daniel Paisner) Theo and Me: Growing Up Okay, Dutton, 1988.
Contemporary Black Biography, Vol. 36, Gale Group, 2002.
Daily News (New York), February 16, 1986, p. 3.
New York Post, April 15, 1987, p. 70.