December 25, 1943
Chicago, Illinois, United States
|Alma mater||Cooley Vocational High School (attended)|
|Notable work(s)||Good Times
Early life and career
Born Kenneth Williams in Chicago and raised in the Cabrini–Green housing project, Monte dropped out of high school and hitchhiked to Hollywood. His first big break came five years later with a script written for and accepted by All in the Family. From there, he went on to produce work responsible for two 1970s sitcoms: Good Times (which he co-created with The Jeffersons star Mike Evans) and What's Happening!! which was based on his screenplay for the motion picture Cooley High.
According to the Los Angeles Times, in 1977 he filed a lawsuit accusing ABC, CBS, producers Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin and others of stealing his ideas for Good Times, The Jeffersons (an All in the Family spinoff) and What's Happening!! Eventually, he says, he received a $1-million settlement and a small percentage of the residuals from Good Times, but the industry retaliated against him denying him the opportunity to pitch new scripts. Since Good Times ended, the only scripts he's written that have been produced by Hollywood are a single episode of The Wayans Bros.and a single episode of Moesha, the latter of which Monte has called "the absolute worst script I've ever written."
Monte used the bulk of the settlement money to finance the production of a play he had written titled If They Come Back. The play proved to be a commercial failure, leading to Monte's financial ruin.
After falling on hard times, by 2003, he had developed an addiction to crack cocaine. He later declared bankruptcy and, by 2006, found himself living in a Salvation Army homeless shelter in Bell, California. He appeared to be maintaining sobriety there, as the shelter required regular drug tests, and he was actively pursuing further attempts to sell television and film scripts, as well as a self-published book called Blueprint for Peace. Late in 2006, Monte moved back to Chicago.