Thursday, March 14, 2024

Whatever happened to Jason (Heshimu) and Bernie (David Joliffe) from Room 222?

David Joliffe & Heshimu on Room 222

Room 222 aired for five years, from 1969 until 1974.  It was a hit series about a Los Angeles high school with a racially diverse student body and faculty.  The fictional inner city school was called Walt Whitman High, and many of the show's stories revolved around Pete Dixon's American History class.  Pete Dixon was played by Lloyd Haynes, who passed away in 1986.

The series dealt with social issues.  It explored such hot topics of the 1970s as racism, drugs, alcoholism homosexuality, feminism (which was then called women's lib), the Vietnam Warr and Watergate.  At the same time, it offered some light-hearted and comical moments.  Two of the most prominent students at Whitman were Jason and Bernie, one African American and the other white.  Jason Allen was a soft-hearted tough guy, while Bernie (no last name given) was the white guy with the huge red Afro.

Heshimu Cumbuka

Heshimu Cumbuka portrayed Jason Allen in 91 episodes of  Room 222.  He appeared in all five seasons of the series from 1969 to 1974.  While on Room 222, the actor was billed simply as "Heshimu."  It is extremely difficult to find any current information about the actor.  It seems that he is very private and that information about him is very sketchy.  According to the website AmoMama (, he was born in Arlington Banks.  However, I cannot locate a place by that name.  There is no date of birth listed for him either.

Aside from his work on Room 222, Heshimu appeared in a 1974 episode of Run, Joe Run as a mute person.  The episode is entitled "The Mute" (Season 1, Episode 11, Air Date: November 16, 1974).  He played Stewart in a 1978 TV crime movie called To Kill a Cop.  He also portrayed a drummer in the 1979 television film The Ordeal of Patty Hearst.  

Heshimu had a role in the 1979 feature film Sunnyside, starring Joey Travolta.  That same year, he appeared as Clark in an episode of the TV drama Lou Grant, starring Ed Asner.  The episode is entitled "Slammer" (Season 3, Episode 3, Air Date: October 1, 1979).  

In the 1983 biographical TV movie Fighting Back: The Story of Rocky Bleier, Heshimu played a soldier.  He had a bit part as a hawker in the 1981 TV movie Born to Be Sold, which deals with a crime ring that sells babies illegally.  

Heshimu played a pimp in two episodes of the crime drama Hill Street Blues.  The episodes are "Hill Street Station" (1981) and "Invasion of the Third World Body Snatchers" (1982).  Heshimu's last screen credit is as Curtis in the 1982 feature They Call Me Bruce, a comedy action film about a goofy Korean who is continually mistaken for Bruce Lee.  According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), he has no further acting credits.  Since then, he has vanished from the public eye.

I found the following 2008 internet chat about Heshimu, which is very interesting.

This morning I happened to be thinking about the old TV series Room 222, and I wondered whatever happened to the actor who played Jason (the tall black student with the gap-toothed smile and a penchant for wearing colorful shirts). The actor's name is Heshimu, which should be fairly easy to seek out on the internet. But alas, it seems as though he has dropped off the face of the earth since making this TV show.

Whatever happened to Heshimu?

I can't even find a picture of him. Surely there must be an internet detective amongst us chit-chat denizens that can find more information about this guy.

I get him as being in Hill Street Blues.

Also a movie called Born to be Sold.
And apparently had a role in They Call Me Bruce?

You are assuming that Heshimu and Heshimu Cumbuka are the same person. I don't think this is true.

I stumbled upon a forum entry from 2004 that claims that Heshimu was working behind the scenes at a San Francisco radio station in the 1980s.

Heshimu is obviously wants to remain private, which is his prerogative.  

David Jolliffe AS Bernie

David Joliffe was born in Glendale California on November 19, 1952.  He is the son of actress Glorya Lord and Broadcast Executive Richard Joliffe.  At the age of ten, David appeared in a commercial for Kraft Marshmallows.

In the summer of 1969, David's mother heard about casting for the pilot of  an ABC comedy-drama called Room 222.  She thought her son would be ideal for the role of the free-spirited Bernie, a student at the fictional Walt Whitman High School in Los Angeles.  He was just 15 years old when he landed the part and his bright red hair made him stand out from the rest of the ensemble cast.

"I was living in Philadelphia with my dad and staying in L.A. in the summer, " David told the Los Angeles Daily News in 2007.  "I did the pilot and didn't think anything, went back to Philadelphia, and my mom called and said, "It got picked up!  Get back over here!."

David's trademark Afro was not quite formed in the pilot episode, but it wasn't long before he grew it out.  "That's my legacy.  I brought the Afro to the white guys.  Every year, I'd show up after (summer) hiatus, and it would just get bigger and bigger," he commented in his L.A. Daily News interview.

David appeared as Bernie (no last name given) in 83 of the 113 episodes of Room 222, over all five seasons of the series from 1969 to 1974.  Of his Room 222 experience he said, "I knew that I had just scratched off a great Lotto ticket.  This was a great opportunity, and I always felt very lucky.  We touched on a lot of issues during those 113 episodes.  We did a lot of social issues of the time.  I'm so proud to have been a member of this cast, which was the first fully integrated cast on television in 1969."

In his first three years on Room 222, David attended school on the 20th Century Fox Lot.  His classmates were Angela Cartwright and Billy Mumy of Lost in Space, who chose to remain in the studio school after their series ended.  For years, David played in a band, The Jenetors, with Mumy and Miguel Ferrer, the son of actor Jose Ferrer and singer Rosemary Clooney.

During his time on Room 222, David guest-starred in a 1971 episode of the legal dream Men at Law entitled "The Climate of Doubt",(Season 1, Episode 14,, Air Date: February 3, 1971), and in a 1972 episode of The Partridge Family entitled "This Male Chauvinist Piggy Went to Market" (Season 3, Episode 1, Air Date: September 15, 1972).

David Joliffe in 1973

In the 1980s, David became a prominent commercial performer.  He appeared in more than 100 TV commercials.  He eventually became a successful voice-over performer and Automated Dialogue Replacement (ADR) Looper (An ADR Looper is a sound editor who reviews all the dialogue recorded in filming and decides what needs to be be re-recorded).

David played the role of Tongue in the 1984 film Lovelines.  He has lent his voice to many animated series such as Battle of the Planets, Clue Club, and Higglytown.

In 1995, due to his dissatisfaction with The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) management, David ran for both the SAG and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) National Boards.  He was elected to both boards.  Soon after, he was elected as SAG National Vice President.  David was recently re-elected as the Los Angeles Local Vice President of SAG-AFTRA.

On April 1, 1982, David married actress and Broadway star Patty Dworkin, known for her appearances in such films as Mr. Mom (1983) and Ghostbusters (1984).  After signing a contract with the ABC network, Patty appeared on TV shows such as The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, Happy Days, One Day at a Time and Eight is Enough.  David and Patty divorced and Patty went on to marry news and entertainment publicist Andrew E. Freedman in 1987, after which she changed her name to Patty Freedman.

David is now married to talent agent Mary Ellen Lord.

Below is a more recent photo of David Joliffe.


* During her acting career, David Joliffe's mother, Glorya Lord, had roles feature films such The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), The Big Country (1958) and The Great Race (1965).  She appeared in bit parts and minor roles in episodes of such TV series as My World and Welcome to It (1969), Mary Tyler Moore (2 episodes 1970, 1971). The Doris Day Show (1971), Mannix (1971) and Newhart (1983).  She also appeared in four episodes of Room 222 from 1969 to 1970, in which she played Mrs. Jackson, Miss Jackson and a PTA member.  

Glorya Lord was originally billed as "Gloria Lord."  She was born on August 30, 1931.

* David Joliffe's first wife, Patty, passed away on February 17, 2017.  She died of breast cancer at the age of 64.

SOURCES:  Los Angeles Daily News, "For David Joliffe, there was life after 'Room 222,''" December 19, 2007; David Joliffe website (; Wikipedia; Internet Movie Database (IMDb)

- Joanne

No comments:

Post a Comment