The Royal Family (TV series)

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The Royal Family
The Royal Family (TV series).jpg
Redd Foxx and Della Reese, stars of The Royal Family
Also known as''Chest 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
Jackée Harry
Barry Shabaka Henley
Naya Rivera
Larenz Tate
Theme music composerDavid Allen Jones
Composer(s)Dan Foliart
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes15 (2 unaired)
Executive producer(s)Eddie Murphy
Mark McClafferty
Greg Antonacci
Producer(s)David Garber
Shelley Jensen
Deborah Leschin
Leslie Ray
David Steven Simon
CinematographyMikel Neiers
Editor(s)Richard Russel
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time22–24 minutes
Production company(s)Eddie Murphy Productions
Paramount Network Television
DistributorCBS Television Distribution
Original networkCBS
Original 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 from September 18, 1991 until May 13, 1992. The series was created and executive produced by Eddie Murphy, as part of a development deal Murphy had with CBS,[1] and produced by Paramount Television, the television arm of Paramount Pictures, 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] 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.[9]



No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
1"Pilot"Shelley JensenGreg Antonacci,
Eddie Murphy
September 18, 1991 (1991-09-18)
Atlanta mail carrier Al Royal and wife Victoria are anticipating peaceful retirement years, but 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)
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)
4"Talkin' Baseball"Shelley JensenGreg AntonacciOctober 9, 1991 (1991-10-09)
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 Barbeque"Jack SheaLisa A. BannickOctober 30, 1991 (1991-10-30)
The Royals have a neighborhood barbecue in their backyard, but Al is that his old rival is coming.
Note: This was the first episode to air after Redd Foxx's death. The episode starts with a brief tribute to Foxx by Della Reese.
6"What's Love Got to Do with It?"Neema BarnetteLeslie Ray,
David Steven Simon
November 13, 1991 (1991-11-13)
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)
Victoria turns the house into a preschool, but the flu forces her to hand the reins to Al.
8"New Beginnings"Jack SheaRob Dames,
Leonard Ripps
November 27, 1991 (1991-11-27)
The passing of Al Royal is marked by warm goodbyes from friends and family, including sister-in-law Ruth.
9"The Sneakin' Deacon"Jack SheaRob Dames,
Leonard Ripps
April 8, 1992 (1992-04-08)
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)
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)
Ruth takes off after Victoria takes her to task for being a poor influence on Kim and Curtis.
12"The Frame Game"Shelley JensenDavid Garber,May 6, 1992 (1992-05-06)
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)
Curtis finds his part-time job taxing in more ways than one.
14"Cocoa in Charge"Jack SheaBrian Scully,
Mike Scully
15"The Big Stink"Rob DamesMike Milligan,
Jay Moriarty

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. p. 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. p. 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.

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