The Royal Family (TV series)

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This article is about the American sitcom. For the South Korean television series, see Royal Family (TV series). For the British sitcom, see The Royle Family.
The Royal Family
The Royal Family (TV series).jpg
Redd Foxx and Della Reese, stars of The Royal Family
Also known as Chest Pains
Genre Sitcom
Created by Eddie Murphy
Written by Greg Antonacci
Mark E. Corry
Rob Dames
David Garber
Mark McClafferty
Mike Milligan
Jay Moriarty
Eddie Murphy
Leonard Ripps
B. Mark Seabrooks
Clint Smith
Directed by Shelley Jensen
Jack Shea
Starring Redd Foxx
Della Reese
Mariann Aalda
Sylver Gregory
Jackée Harry
Barry Shabaka Henley
Naya Rivera
Larenz Tate
Theme music composer David Allen Jones
Composer(s) Dan Foliart
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 15
Executive producer(s) Eddie Murphy
Mark McClafferty
Greg Antonacci
Producer(s) David Garber
Shelley Jensen
Deborah Leschin
Leslie Ray
David Steven Simon
Editor(s) Richard Russel
Cinematography Mikel Neiers
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 22–24 minutes
Production company(s) Eddie Murphy Productions
Paramount Network Television
Distributor CBS Television Distribution
Original network CBS
Original release September 18, 1991 (1991-09-18) – May 13, 1992 (1992-05-13)

The Royal Family is an American sitcom starring Redd Foxx and Della Reese. The series was created and 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.

Murphy had previously worked with Redd Foxx and Della Reese in the 1989 film Harlem Nights, which Murphy wrote and directed. The Royal Family ran for one season on CBS from 1991-1992. 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 series was intended to be a comeback vehicle for Foxx, who had not had a successful television series since the cancellation of Sanford and Son in 1977. CBS, banking on the potential success of Foxx's series, put in an order for 15 episodes to begin the year and could have ordered more if the series turned out to be a hit. In fact, the ratings for early episodes were high.[3]

Then, 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 70s 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]

Since only 7 episodes were finished by then and the series had just lost one of its stars, the producers of The Royal Family decided not to continue with the remaining episodes out of respect for Foxx. But later they decided to continue, running commercials in Foxx's memory and saying "Like any family, The Royal Family will go on." The producers immediately added Jackée Harry to the show as Victoria's younger sister Ruth, who moved in to help the family cope with the sudden loss of Al,[7] and 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 it returned in April 1992, Harry's role had been reworked: instead of Victoria's sister, she was now the Royals' eldest daughter of the Royals and known as "CoCo." The ratings of the revived Royal Family did not measure up to what they had been when Foxx was on the series, and CBS was left with little choice but to cancel the series a week before the season was supposed to end, leaving two episodes unaired.[9]



Title Directed by: Written by: Air date
1 "Pilot" Shelley Jensen Greg Antonacci,
Eddie Murphy
September 18, 1991
Atlanta mail-carrier Al Royal and wife Victoria are anticipating peaceful retirement years, until their daughter moves in with her children. In the opener, 15-year-old Curtis borrows Grandpa's truck.
2 "Homework Bound" Shelley Jensen Mark E. Corry,
Mark McClafferty,
Clint Smith
September 25, 1991
Thanks to, or in spite of, 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 Antonacci Mike Milligan,
Jay Moriarty
October 2, 1991
4 "Talkin' Baseball" Shelley Jensen Greg Antonacci October 9, 1991
Kim's knuckleball success against Curtis and a friend inspires her to try out for varsity baseball, starting a rhubarb with Al about a woman's place in a man's game.
5 "A Mid-Summer Night's Barbeque" Jack Shea Lisa A. Bannick October 30, 1991
The Royals have a neighborhood barbecue in their backyard. Al is upset to find out that his old rival, Langston White (Robert Hooks), is coming to the barbecue.
Note: This is the first show that aired after Redd Foxx's death. The show starts with a brief tribute to Redd by Della Reese.
6 "What's Love Got to Do with It?" Neema Barnette Leslie Ray,
David Steven Simon
November 13, 1991
The budding relationship between Elizabeth and a doctor thrills Al, but Victoria notices that something's missing--and something's missing between her and Al.
7 "Educating Al" Shelley Jensen David Garber November 20, 1991
Victoria turns the house into a preschool, but the flu makes her hand the reins to Al for "a day of fun and accomplishment."
8 "New Beginnings" Jack Shea Rob Dames,
Leonard Ripps
November 27, 1991
The passing of Al Royal is marked by warm goodbyes from friends and family, including sister-in-law Ruth, whose arrival at a time of need may be as much for her own need as for Victoria's.
9 "The Sneakin' Deacon" Jack Shea Rob Dames,
Leonard Ripps
April 8, 1992
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 Keith Fred Johnson April 15, 1992
Ruth regrets being cool towards Willis, while Curtis is anything but cool after being gifted with a discount version of an expensive jacket.
11 "Hello, I Must Be Going" Jack Shea David Garber,
Michael Poryes
April 22, 1992
Ruth takes off after Victoria takes her to task for being a poor influence on Kim and Curtis.
12 "The Frame Game" Shelley Jensen David Garber, May 6, 1992
Curtis gets a swelled head after being chosen to appear with Dr. Dre and Ed Lover of Yo! MTV raps.
13 "Mo' Money" Shelley Jensen Mark E. Corry,
Mark McClafferty,
Clint Smith
May 13, 1992
Curtis finds his part-time job taxing timewise when he has to work extra hours to cover the taxman's share, previously earmarked for other expenses.
14 "Cocoa in Charge" Jack Shea Brian Scully,
Mike Scully
15 "The Big Stink" Rob Dames Mike Milligan,
Jay Moriarty

Awards and nominations[edit]

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


  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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