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Articles about Telma Hopkins

Telma Hopkins, biography and what she thinks about Family Matters, 1993
Classic TV Characters: Telma Hopkins
Interview with Telma Hopkins, November 12, 2003
Listen to a song performed by Telma Hopkins
New biography and filmography 2003 (Half and Half)

Telma Hopkins, biography and what she thinks about Family Matters, 1993
Behind the scenes, Troll Associates

Rachel Crawford's stay in her sister Harriette Winslow's home was supposed to be temporary. She turned to the emotional support of the Winslow family following the death of her husband. But after three seasons on the air, it's hard to picture the Winslow household without the warm, funny, and energetic presence of Rachel.

The reason for this, of course, is the multitalented singer/actress Telma Hopkins. She brings high energy and a strong positive life force to the character each week on Family Matters.

"The show works so well because we (the cast) really believe in each other," explains Telma. "We've become close and care for each other. Each of us gets to display our talents." Telma certainly has many different talents to display.

She began her performing career as a backup singer for such superstars as Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Wilson Pickett, Issac Hayes, Dionne Warwick, and the Four Tops.

"If you lived in Detroit," says Telma, "and you didn't work for GM, Ford, or Chrysler, you worked for Motown." Motown is the name of a famous music company that produced such stars as the Jackson Five, Diana Ross and the Supremes, and the Temptations.

She went on to greater success in the 1970s as a member of the singing group Tony Orlando and Dawn. The group had a series of hit records and starred in a TV variety show that ran for four years.

Telma made her television acting debut as Daisy in the ground-breaking mini-series Roots: The Next Generation. From there she went on to star in Bosom Buddies with Tom Hanks, The New Odd Couple, and Gimme A Break. She also appeared in the feature films Vital Signs, Trancers, and Pulse Pounders.

Telma Hopkins has been successful in both the music and acting fields. Which does she prefer? "I've found that acting suits me better the older I get," she reveals. "The lifestyle is more normal than being on the road (a common situation for musicians). I like going home every day. I need that stability."

Telma believes the character of Rachel is closer to her own personality than any other role she‘s ever played. "She's a single parent like me" - Telma has a 20-year-old son in college - "she's very earthy very worldly. I love kids, and Rachel has a lot of kid in her, and more than a little bit of comedienne."

Telma‘s comedic inspirations growing up were Carol Burnett, whom she idolized, and Pearl Bailey, whom she calls "A lady of great attitude."

Telma is quick to say what a great experience Family Matters continues to be for her. "All of us in Family Matters really work hard to make it a family show that really is about a family. There's something for everyone because we have three generations under one roof. And we stick together."

Off the set, Telma enjoys cooking, reading, and collecting antiques. When asked what she'd like to do in the future, Telma replies, "I want to do everything under the rainbow, from singing and acting, to comedy and drama."

When Telma was growing up, her grandmother used to tell her she'd better get serious about her life because she'd never make a living being silly. Fortunately for Family Matters' fans, Grandma was wrong!

Classic TV Characters: Telma Hopkins (Isabelle Hammond, "Bosom Buddies")
webpage classic-tv. com, 2000

Telma Hopkins first entered the limelight as part of the singing trio Tony Orlando and Dawn. Their single, "Tie A Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Old Oak Tree" was one of the biggest sellers of the '70s. Variety shows were hot in the middle of that decade, and "The Tony Orlando and Dawn Show" debuted in 1974. It made a brief resurgence in 1976 as "The Tony Orlando and Dawn Rainbow Hour" before fading into the sunset.

Hopkins remained a shining star, and found herself in two more series ("Roots: The Next Generation" and "A New Kind Of Family") before accepting the part of the sassy Isabelle on classic sit-com "Bosom Buddies" in 1980. When that had run its course, she took the part of Nell's best friend Addy on "Gimme A Break" while also performing in TV movies and other one-off guest spots.

Five years as Aunt Rachel on "Family Matters" would keep her busy until 1993, when she exited to co-star with Cindy Williams in "Getting By." "Getting By" didn't....and Hopkins went back to guest spots and TV movies.

Interview with Telma Hopkins, November 12, 2003

Telma Hopkins's Unsolved Mysteries
by Rochell Thomas, TV Guide

You may know her as bitter divorcée Phyllis Thorne on UPN's Half & Half, or as Nell Carter's skinny sidekick on Gimme a Break, but way back in the day, Telma Hopkins was also one-third of the music group Tony Orlando & Dawn ("Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Ole Oak Tree"). Remember the "Shaft" theme song? And the part where the girls go, "Shut yo' mouth"? Yep, that's her, too. We took a walk down memory lane with the actress who slipped into our pop culture lexicon without us even knowing it.

TV Guide Online: So, do you work a sassy "shut yo' mouth" into casual conversation?
Telma Hopkins:
Uh, no. But it was one of the coolest singing jobs ever. I sang it with two other girls. But somehow or another I get all the credit.

TVGO: What about the hit "Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Ole Oak Tree" — which came first, the song or the tying of the ribbons?
The song came first. And the funny thing is, I think it's about a guy in prison. He was being released and he told his wife if she still wanted to have a relationship with him, she should tie a yellow ribbon around a tree. And when he saw it he would get off the bus and if he didn't he would just keep going.

TVGO: Shut up!
Yeah. Now, if you get locked in the closet they'll tie a yellow ribbon. But the song was not about that. It was just timing. It came out in 1973 and then with the hostages coming home [from Iran], it just became an anthem.

TVGO: I looked you up online: Bosom Buddies, Gimme a Break and Family Matters. You're a pop culture trivia nut's dream!
Yeah. [Laughs] I'm lucky to have been on a lot of successful shows. Shows that had some legs. A lot of times people ask me about stuff and I have to stop and think about it: Did I really do that?

TVGO: Am I crazy, or were you on the Circus of the Stars doing...
A high-wire act. And I was the one who was crazy. I don't know how I got talked into that. And I did it on specially made roller skates.

TVGO: What did you do on Battle of the Network Stars?
Everything, honey. I swam, did the tandem bike, the obstacle course. Scott Baio was our team captain and he was so hardcore. You would think nobody had a job the way we were going at each other. In the tug of war, we pulled the skin right off our hands.

TVGO: And you voluntarily got rope burn because...
I was just a tomboy. I [also] did Celebrity Daredevils so I could go to stunt driving school and demolition derby... All that stuff. [On Battle of the Network Stars], each winning team got a certain amount of money. But it wasn't enough to make us kill ourselves. It's funny because you would have thought it was the only money we were going to make that year.

TVGO: Do you think you could get your Half & Half castmates to do something like that?
I think everybody but Rachel True would be game. She's such a girl.

Telma Hopkins "Half and Half"

Telma Hopkins plays Phyllis, Mona's mother who raised her as a single parent, in UPN's comedy series HALF AND HALF.

Hopkins has enjoyed immeasurable success as an actress and singer. She first came into prominence as a founding member of Tony Orlando and Dawn. A string of hits, including the classic "Tie a Yellow Ribbon," led to a successful variety show for the group and from there her acting career was born.

Hopkins was a series regular on "Bosom Buddies," with Tom Hanks, "Gimme A Break," with Nell Carter, "Family Matters" with Jaleel White, and "Getting By," with comedy vet Cindy Williams.

More recently, she has guest starred on "Suddenly Susan," "For Your Love," "ER" and "Chicken Soup for the Soul," with Rod Steiger. In addition, she co-starred in two feature films, "The Wood," for Paramount Pictures, and "Rain," a Showtime independent film. She has also enjoyed recurring roles on UPN's "The Hughleys," as Pauline, and on "Any Day Now," as Judge Wilma Evers.

Throughout her career, Hopkins has been actively involved with many organizations. In addition to being the spokesperson for both the National P.T.A. and Act On Arthritis, she has also worked on behalf of McClaren Hall, Rainbow Camp, Hollygrove Group Home and Caring for Babies with AIDS. For the past six years she has been a mentor, an endeavor that has brought as much good to her life as it has to the now 13-year-old boy she has mentored.

Hopkins lives in Los Angeles.

- Filmography -
Pulse Pounders (2002)
"Half and Half" (2002) TV Series
Rain (2001/II)
Wood, The (1999)
"Spider-Man" (1994) TV Series (voice)
"Getting By" (1993) TV Series
Trancers III (1992) (Video)
Trancers II (1991)
How to Murder a Millionaire (1990) (TV Movie)
Vital Signs (1990)
Circus of the Stars #14 (1989) (TV Movie)
"Family Matters" (1989) TV Series
Rock 'n' Roll Mom (1988) (TV Movie)
Trancers (1985)
Circus of the Stars #10 (1985) (TV Movie)
"Gimme a Break!" (1981) TV Series
Battle of the Network Stars XII (1982) (TV Movie)
Kid with the Broken Halo, The (1982) (TV Movie)
"Bosom Buddies" (1980) TV Series
"New Kind of Family, A" (1979) TV Series
"Roots: The Next Generations" (1979) (mini-series)
"Tony Orlando and Dawn" (1974) TV Series

- Notable Guest Appearances -

"The Hughleys" (1998) TV Series
"Love Boat, The" (1977) TV Series

Did You Know:

  • While starring on the weekly series "Family Matters," Telma Hopkins took time to appear in the feature films "Trancers I, II & III." (aka "Future Cop I, II & III).
  • Telma Hopkins sang on 14 Top 40 singles including the certified gold "Candida," "Knock Three Times," "Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree," "Say Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose" and "He Don't Love You (Like I Love You.)"

Listen to a song performed by Telma Hopkins

This song is from the episode "The Good, the Bad, and the Urkel" (No. 46/1991) rachel.mp2 (1,48 MB)

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