'In the Heat of the Night' Is Entertaining a New Generation of Viewers — Where Is the Cast Now?

Mustafa Gatollari - Author
By

Dec. 20 2023, Published 12:56 p.m. ET

In 1967, Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger starred in the acclaimed In the Heat of the Night, a movie about a Black Philadelphia detective mistakenly accused of murder in a racially divisive Mississippi town. A police chief asks Poitier's character to help investigate the case.

At its core, the film is about "racial unity" and the focus is on celebrating the content of a person's character instead of social/cultural biases.

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Where is the 'In the Heat of the Night' cast now?

The movie was adapted decades later into a popular and long-running TV series. And if you were a fan of the show or are catching it on streaming today you may be wondering: What's the cast up to now?

Carroll O'Connor — William O. "Bill" Gillespie

Carroll O'Connor
Source: Getty Images

O'Connor is probably most widely known for his role as Archie Bunker in the wildly successful and beloved American sitcom All in the Family, which ran from 1971 to 1979 for over 206 episodes.

Before passing away in 2001, his final role was in the 2000 David Duchovny/Minnie Driver romantic comedy Return to Me, but he also had recurring roles in Mad About You and Party of Five.

O'Connor is an American TV legend and is also referenced as a testament to perseverance and dedication to one's dream. He discussed being a "struggling" actor in the early years of his career but enjoyed great success later on.

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Howard Rollins — Virgil Tibbs

Howard Rollins
Source: Getty Images

Howard Rollins starred alongside O'Connor in a role that reimagines Poitier's character as a native of Sparta (the Mississippi town where the series and film take place) who travels north to Philadelphia where he establishes his career as a detective before returning home. The success of the series can be largely attributed to the dynamic of O'Connor and Rollins, who initially butt heads but soon establish a friendship in their shared work.

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Rollins' tenure with the series was unfortunately marred by personal legal problems. He was dropped from the show in 1993, with writers explaining his absence by having Tibbs become an attorney upon graduating from law school (he'd later return as a guest star in the series's 7th season). The actor passed away in 1996, and after his turn as Tibbs in In the Heat of the Night came to an end, he had a role in New York Undercover. His final role was in the 1996 film Harambee!

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Alan Autry — Captain V.L. "Bubba" Skinner

Alan Autry
Source: Getty Images

Autry's character in the series goes through quite the arc. He is first distrustful of Tibbs and is initially portrayed as a strong but not-too-intelligent redneck who is constantly dating new women around town. He ultimately befriends Tibbs, takes a strong dislike to racist "knotheads" in Sparta, and climbs his way up the ranks to become captain of the Sparta Police Department.

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Autry was most recently in a 2023 episode of 9-1-1 Lone Star as well as the Sylvester Stallone-led series Tulsa King. He had a recurring role in the 2017 show Hart of Dixie and had a leading role in 23 episodes of the Chuck Lorre series Grace Under Fire directly following his time on In the Heat of the Night.

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Anne-Marie Johnson — Althea Tibbs

Anne-Marie Johnson
Source: Getty Images

Johnson has worked steadily in several popular TV shows following her turn as the teacher/counselor who is married to Tibbs in the series. The actress's character was written out of the show along with Rollins's, but following the show, Johnson landed another popular network program: In Living Color, in which she was featured for 23 episodes between 1993 and 1994.

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The rest of her IMDB page is a long list of notable series. Johnson has roles on Living Single, Babylon 5, Murder She Wrote, Melrose Place, ER, Ally McBeal, Dharma & Greg, Bones, Boston Legal, and The Secret Life of the American Teenager, along with a recurring, 18-episode role in JAG and five episodes in House of Payne. Most recently she was featured on NCIS and How to Get Away With Murder.

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David Hart — Parker Williams

David Hart
Source: CBS

Hart's character eventually becomes Sergeant of Sparta and is the show's comic relief as well as a wholesome example of someone who genuinely cared about the people of the town.

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While he is primarily known for his turn as Williams, horror film fans will know him for his role in the 1985 Werewolf classic, Silver Bullet. Hart would also go on to act in more projects with his In the Heat of the Night co-star Alan Autry, like The Legend of Jake Kincaid in 2002 and 2011's Forgiven. Like Johnson, he also had a role in Party of Five.

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Hugh O'Connor — Lonnie Jamison

The adopted son of Caroll O'Connor, Hugh began his role in the series as a recurring character but was later made a mainstay of the show until it ended in 1995. Before that, he played James Flynn in the TV movie Brass — these were the only two roles he'd ever play in a professional capacity.

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Hugh purportedly struggled with drug abuse throughout his life and passed away on March 28, 1995, three years after marrying Angela O'Connor, who worked as a wardrobe assistant on In the Heat of the Night. He left behind a son, Sean Carroll O'Connor. He was 32 years old, and his passing was ruled a suicide.

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Carl Weathers and Carroll O'Connor
Source: Getty Images
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In the Heat of the Night's cast was a who's who of talented actors during its run, with actors like Carl Weathers making appearances in the final season. All eight seasons of the show are currently streaming for free on FreeVee via Amazon Prime Video, along with Pluto TV, which requires no subscription, logins, or sign-ups whatsoever.

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