The Royal Family (TV series)

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The Royal Family
Redd Foxx and Della Reese, stars of The Royal Family
Also known asChest Pains
Created byEddie Murphy
Developed byGreg Antonacci
Written byGreg Antonacci
Mark E. Corry
Rob Dames
David Garber
Mark McClafferty
Mike Milligan
Jay Moriarty
Eddie Murphy
Leonard Ripps
B. Mark Seabrooks
Clint Smith
Directed byShelley Jensen
Jack Shea
StarringRedd Foxx
Della Reese
Mariann Aalda
Sylver Gregory
Larenz Tate
Naya Rivera
Jackée Harry
Barry Shabaka Henley
Theme music composerDavid Allen Jones
ComposerDan Foliart
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes15 (2 unaired)
Executive producersEddie Murphy
Mark McClafferty
Greg Antonacci
ProducersDavid Garber
Shelley Jensen
Deborah Leschin
Leslie Ray
David Steven Simon
CinematographyMikel Neiers
EditorRichard Russel
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time22–24 minutes
Production companiesEddie Murphy Television
Paramount Television
Original release
ReleaseSeptember 18, 1991 (1991-09-18) –
May 13, 1992 (1992-05-13)

The Royal Family is an American sitcom television series that ran on CBS between September 18, 1991 and May 13, 1992. The series was created by executive producer Eddie Murphy, as part of a development deal Murphy had with CBS,[1] and produced by David Garber, Shelley Jensen, Deborah Leschin, Leslie Ray, and David Steven Simon. Other executive producers alongside Eddie Murphy are Mark McClafferty and Greg Antonacci. It was presented by Eddie Murphy Television in association with Paramount Television, the television arm of Paramount Pictures, a Paramount Communications Company, with which Murphy had long been associated. The series starred Redd Foxx and Della Reese.

Murphy had previously worked with Foxx and Reese in the 1989 film Harlem Nights, which Murphy wrote and directed. The working title for the series was Chest Pains.[2]


The series chronicled the lives of Atlanta mail carrier Alexander Alphonso "Al" Royal (Redd Foxx) and his wife Victoria (Della Reese), who were anticipating peaceful retirement years until marital problems brought an extended visit from their daughter Elizabeth (Mariann Aalda) and her three children: Kim (Sylver Gregory), Curtis (Larenz Tate), and Hillary (Naya Rivera).

Redd Foxx's death and aftermath[edit]

The Royal Family was intended as a comeback vehicle for Foxx, who had not had a successful television series since the cancellation of Sanford and Son in 1977. Ratings for the early episodes were high.[3] However, the show suffered an enormous blow when, on October 11, 1991, Foxx suffered a massive heart attack while rehearsing.[4] Joshua Rich of Entertainment Weekly later wrote, "It was an end so ironic that for a brief moment cast mates figured Foxx—whose 1970s TV character often faked heart attacks—was kidding when he grabbed a chair and fell to the floor."[5] Foxx was taken to Queen of Angels Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, where he died that evening.[6]

The show's producers eventually decided to resume work on the series, running commercials in Foxx's memory that included the line "Like any family, The Royal Family will go on." Jackée Harry was added to the cast as Victoria's younger sister Ruth, who moved in to help the family cope with Al's sudden death.[7] She was introduced in the series' eighth episode, which was written to deal with Al Royal's passing. After that episode, The Royal Family was placed on hiatus so the writers could rework the series.[8] When the show returned in April 1992, Harry's role had been reworked; instead of Victoria's sister, she was now the Royals' eldest daughter, CoCo. The ratings of the revived Royal Family did not match those of episodes featuring Foxx, and CBS cancelled the series a week before the broadcast of its first season was scheduled to end, leaving two episodes unaired. Those two episodes would finally air 27 years later, when classic TV-focused multicast network Decades aired them in 2019.[9]



No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date Viewers
1"Pilot"Shelley JensenGreg Antonacci,
Eddie Murphy
September 18, 1991 (1991-09-18)19.7[10]
Atlanta mail carrier Al Royal and his wife Victoria are anticipating peaceful retirement years until their daughter moves in with her children. In the opener, 15-year-old Curtis borrows Al's truck.
2"Homework Bound"Shelley JensenMark E. Corry,
Mark McClafferty,
Clint Smith
September 25, 1991 (1991-09-25)18.5[11]
Under Al's history tutelage at the bowling alley, Curtis scores an A on a test, but not without having something up his sleeve.
3"Me and My Stuff"Greg AntonacciMike Milligan,
Jay Moriarty
October 2, 1991 (1991-10-02)14.7[12]
Curtis opts to secede from the manner when Al denies his request for his own room.
4"Talkin' Baseball"Shelley JensenGreg AntonacciOctober 9, 1991 (1991-10-09)12.9[13]
Kim's success playing baseball against Curtis and a friend inspires her to try out for the varsity team, starting a squabble with Al about a woman's place in a man's game.
5"A Mid-Summer Night's Barbecue"Jack SheaLisa A. BannickOctober 30, 1991 (1991-10-30)14.4[14]
The first show that aired after Redd Foxx's death starts with a brief tribute to Redd by Della Reese. As for the show itself, the Royals have a neighborhood barbecue in their backyard and Al is upset to find out that his old rival Langston White (Robert Hooks) is coming to the barbecue.
6"What's Love Got to Do with It?"Neema BarnetteLeslie Ray,
David Steven Simon
November 13, 1991 (1991-11-13)11.2[15]
The budding relationship between Elizabeth and a doctor thrills Al, but Victoria has doubts.
7"Educating Al"Shelley JensenDavid GarberNovember 20, 1991 (1991-11-20)11.8[16]
This is the final episode that Redd Foxx taped before his death. Elizabeth tries to find a preschool for Hillary.
8"New Beginnings"Jack SheaRob Dames,
Leonard Ripps
November 27, 1991 (1991-11-27)13.1[17]
The first post-Redd Foxx episode. Victoria learns that Al has died at a bowling alley. His funeral is attended by many of his old friends (including Sanford & Son alumni, Bubba Bexley & Slappy White).
9"The Sneakin' Deacon"Jack SheaRob Dames,
Leonard Ripps
April 8, 1992 (1992-04-08)11.7[18]
Victoria sees a match with Elizabeth and the new church deacon, but the deacon makes a play for Ruth, who doesn't like his game plan.
10"Status, Bro"Gerren KeithFred JohnsonApril 15, 1992 (1992-04-15)10.4[19]
Ruth regrets being cool to Willis, while Curtis receives a discount version of an expensive jacket.
11"Hello, I Must Be Going"Jack SheaDavid Garber,
Michael Poryes
April 22, 1992 (1992-04-22)10.4[20]
Ruth takes off after Victoria takes her to task for being a poor influence on Kim and Curtis.
12"The Fame Game"Shelley JensenDavid Garber,May 6, 1992 (1992-05-06)10.4[21]
Curtis gets a swelled head after being chosen to appear with Dr. Dre and Ed Lover of Yo! MTV Raps.
13"Mo' Money"Shelley JensenMark E. Corry,
Mark McClafferty,
Clint Smith
May 13, 1992 (1992-05-13)9.2[22]
Curtis finds his part-time job taxing in more ways than one.
14"CoCo in Charge"Jack SheaBrian Scully,
Mike Scully
Unaired (Unaired)N/A
Against their better judgment, Victoria and Elizabeth allow Ruth to watch the kids for a weekend.
15"The Big Stink"Rob DamesMike Milligan,
Jay Moriarty
Unaired (Unaired)N/A
Trouble arises when Ruth hires Victoria for the Perfume counter.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient Result
1992 Young Artist Awards Exceptional Performance by a Young Actress Under Ten Naya Rivera Nominated
Best Young Actor Starring in a New Television Series Larenz Tate Nominated
Best Young Actress Starring in a New Television Series Sylver Gregory Nominated


  1. ^ "Blacks and the 1991 Television Season". Ebony. Johnson Publishing Company. 46 (12): 25. October 1991. ISSN 0012-9011.
  2. ^ Ingram, Billy (2006). Tvparty!: Television's Untold Tales. Bonus Books, Inc. p. 262. ISBN 1-56625-184-2.
  3. ^ Smith, Sande; Bowman, John (1995). Who's Who in African-American History. Smithmark. pp. 58. ISBN 0-8317-9190-X.
  4. ^ "Fames Comedian Redd Foxx Is Celebrated In New Book, 'The Life and Times of Redd Foxx'". Jet. Johnson Publishing Company. 96 (7). 1999-07-19. ISSN 0021-5996.
  5. ^ Rich, Joshua (October 9, 1998). Exit Laughing. Entertainment Weekly
  6. ^ Staff report (October 28, 1991). Fox felled by a heart attack taping TV show; calls for wife and dies. Jet
  7. ^ "Della and Jackie Become TV Sisters In 'Royal Family'". Jet. Johnson Publishing Company. 81 (8): 58, 59. 1991-12-09. ISSN 0021-5996.
  8. ^ Fearn-Banks, Kathleen (2006). Historical Dictionary of African-American Television. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 376. ISBN 0-8108-5335-3.
  9. ^ Carter, Bill; Rutenberg, Jim (2003-09-13). "ABC Mourning Star of Series That Was Key To Its Lineup". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-29.
  10. ^ Donlon, Brian (September 25, 1991). "New faces try to save 'One Life to Live'". Life. USA Today. p. 3D.
  11. ^ Donlon, Brian (October 2, 1991). "'Roseanne' comes out on top". Life. USA Today. p. 3D.
  12. ^ Donlon, Brian (October 9, 1991). "Cable pulls network's plug". Life. USA Today. p. 3D.
  13. ^ Donlon, Brian (October 16, 1991). "Hearings score a win for NBC". Life. USA Today. p. 3D.
  14. ^ Donlon, Brian (November 6, 1991). "Ratings contest narrows". Life. USA Today. p. 3D.
  15. ^ Donlon, Brian (November 20, 1991). "'60 Minutes' clocks a 3rd win". Life. USA Today. p. 3D.
  16. ^ Donlon, Brian (November 27, 1991). "CBS scores a strong win". Life. USA Today. p. 3D.
  17. ^ Donlon, Brian (December 4, 1991). "The nut at the door on 'Seinfeld'". Life. USA Today. p. 3D.
  18. ^ Gable, Donna (April 15, 1992). "CBS' historic jump". Life. USA Today. p. 3D.
  19. ^ Gable, Donna (April 22, 1992). "'Roseanne' leads ABC's way". Life. USA Today. p. 3D.
  20. ^ Gable, Donna (April 29, 1992). "ABC wins with news, goodbyes". Life. USA Today. p. 3D.
  21. ^ Donlon, Brian (May 13, 1992). "Finales put NBC in first". Life. USA Today. p. 3D.
  22. ^ Gable, Donna (May 20, 1992). "Weddings blissful for NBC". Life. USA Today. p. 3D.

External links[edit]