Haywood Nelson

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Haywood Nelson
Haywood Nelson.jpg
Nelson in 2007.
Born (1960-03-25) March 25, 1960 (age 57)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1974–present
Spouse(s) Diana Ramos (1987–?)
Sheryl Piland (1981–1984)

Haywood Nelson (born March 25, 1960 in New York City) is an American actor. He is best known for having portrayed Dwayne Nelson on the television series What's Happening!! from 1976–1979,[1] and its spin-off series What's Happening Now!! 1985–1988.


Nelson, who grew up in Garden City Park, Long Island, New York, was a child star, appearing in many national commercials and in a movie, Mixed Company.[2] From 1973 to 1974, he performed on Broadway alongside Marlo Thomas in Thieves.[3] At the age of 14, he guest starred on Sanford and Son (1972) as Grady's grandson; at 15, he was in the cast of a spin-off of Sanford and Son called Grady (1975). The show was short-lived. The next year, in 1976, at the age of 16, he landed the role of Dwayne on What's Happening!!, the first African-American teen sitcom.[4] As a "teenage heartthrob" on a popular television series, Nelson was one of the first African-American teen idols.[4][5][6] In 1977, Nelson guest starred on Kojak in the episode "The Godson" as Bobby Moore.

Nelson still works in entertainment, although mainly behind the scenes; he has worked in talk shows, TV shows and interview programs.[7]


Year Title Role Notes
1971–74 As the World Turns Jerry Smith Unknown episodes
1974 Mixed Company Freddie Feature film
1975 Sanford and Son Haywood Marshall Episode: "The Family Man"
1975–76 Grady Haywood Marshall Main cast (10 episodes)
1976–79 What's Happening!! Dwayne Nelson Main cast (65 episodes)
1977 Kojak Bobby Moore Episode: "The Godson"
1977 The Brady Bunch Hour Himself Episode #1.7
1979 The White Shadow Randy Judd Episode: "Sudden Death"
1981 Evilspeak Kowalski Feature film
1985–88 What's Happening Now!! Dwayne Nelson Main cast (66 episodes)
1990 Dragnet Lyle Peters Episode: "The Book"
2003 Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star Himself (cameo) Feature film


  1. ^ Byrd, Kenya N. (August 7, 2009). "Flashback Fridays: Haywood Nelson". Essence Magazine. Archived from the original on October 31, 2010. 
  2. ^ Kennedy, James (October 23, 1998). "Haywood You Remember Garden City Park". Mineola American. Archived from the original on 27 March 2015. Retrieved 29 December 2014. 
  3. ^ Thomas, Marlo (2010). Growing Up Laughing: My Story and the Story of Funny. Hyperion. p. 223. ISBN 9781401323912. Retrieved 29 December 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "'What's Happening!!' Cast Reunion". Washington Examiner. Retrieved 29 December 2014. The former teen idols revealed what it was like to be a part of the first African American teen sitcom 
  5. ^ "Haywood Nelson: Boy Crush". Essence. Retrieved 29 December 2014. New York native Haywood Nelson, who played Dwayne Nelson on the 70's sitcom favorite What's Happening!!, was the teenage heartthrob of the show. 
  6. ^ Armstrong, Jenice (March 11, 2014). "On the go with Flo Anthony". Philly.com. Retrieved 29 December 2014. teen heartthrob Haywood Nelson 
  7. ^ Pavan (December 19, 2012). "Seven Questions with Haywood Nelson of What's Happening!!". Sitcoms Online. Retrieved 29 December 2014. 

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