Whatever Happened to Mark Curry?

Mark Curry

Mark Curry was once a TV star. From 1992 to 1997, he played the lead role as Mark Cooper in Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, an ABC sitcom about the life of a former Golden Star Warriors player who became a teacher in his local high school. The series was part of a cohort of black sitcoms on network television that defined life for millennials in America. And for five seasons, Mark rode that tide to national fame.

However, unlike Will Smith, Kenan Thompson, and Raven-Symoné, Mark Curry never quite enjoyed sustained relevance in pop culture. Since the last episode aired on August 30, 1997, Mark has quietly drifted out of public consciousness. Occasionally, he pops up in collective moments of nostalgia, but the feel-good reminders only beg the question – what happened to him? Here’s what we found.

His Show was Not as Successful as Other Black 90s Sitcoms

Mark Curry and the cast of Hangin with Mr. Cooper

Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper debuted on primetime in 1995 as a lead-in to Full House. It was a major milestone in Mark Curry’s onscreen career, having only appeared in a few episodes here and there since his acting debut in 1980. A primetime slot implied a lot of promise, and the show lived up to it in the first season. With 14.6 million viewers in the first season, it tied with culture juggernaut, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and helped Mark carve a place in 90s pop culture.

Unfortunately, that was as good as things got for Mark Curry and Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper. After a successful first season, ABC moved the show to its famous TGIF programming block, a collection of some of the best sitcoms available on television. But the show never quite captured its season one magic. A combination of replaced characters, different showrunners, and changing timeslots meant the series lacked the stability to stake a concrete place in sitcom lore. Though it stayed on air, its ratings dwindled from season to season until it was canceled for good in the fifth season after 13 episodes.

The implication is, unlike other creatures of the black sitcom era, Mark did not have an iconic show that would help his name permeate generations. Even though the show was syndicated on broadcast networks like Paramount’s Nickelodeon and BET and has been available on platforms like HBOMax and Hulu, it was never beloved. That is, compared to shows like Full House and Family Matters, whose cast found renewed relevance with a newer generation.

Mark Suffered a Major Fire Accident

Mark Curry smoking cigar

Despite the moderate, albeit ephemeral success of Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, Mark Curry never left our screens. He continued to make cameo and guest appearances in movies in TV shows. The comedian had a six-episode recurring role on The Drew Carey Show as Drew Carey’s boss, hosted a Comedy Central central game show, and starred in a lead role in a Disney Channel movie. But on May 17, 2007, he came close to losing his mild success.

An aerosol fell behind a water heater and exploded while he was doing laundry, burning his arm, back, and side. As part of his treatment, he spent three days in a medically induced coma, then several months recovering at home. Perhaps it was the disappointment of the widespread fame that wasn’t, the freak nature of the accident, burning 20% of his body, or all the above. But the deeper scar was mental because the Oakland-born actor considered suicide.

Thankfully, with the help of industry friends like Richard Pryor and Sinbad, he did not go through with it. Mark Curry returned onscreen after his recovery, mainly in guest spots. His first major role since the accident was in 2012, when he co-starred as a comedy writer in three seasons of See Dad Run.

Mark Curry Spends Most of His Days Performing Stand-Up Comedy

Mark Curry performing stand up

What has been evident since Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper ended unceremoniously is Mark Curry has a different path. Although the actor-comedian continues to appear in movies and TV series, the most recent being the 2021 short film, Dreams from the Edge, his main focus is stand-up comedy. He’s a regular fixture at Cobb’s Comedy Club in San Francisco and Hollywood Improv. Since 2023, he’s been a special guest on Katt William‘s 2023 And Me tour. Will he ever reach the heights his breakout show promised? In his 60s, it’s not too late for a man of his talents.

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