…Wilson was an altar boy and spent summers with a Pentecostal grandmother in Georgia. He considered the priesthood but took up acting instead. After a brief stay at Hunter College and a 13-month tour of duty in Vietnam, Wilson returned to pursue acting in earnest. A guest shot on the classic All in the Family led to his casting in Sanford and Son. “We had a long run and made lots of money,” Wilson remembers.
In keeping with his new image, Wilson does not drink, smoke or even dance. A year ago he sold his Beverly Hills house and relocated his wife and four children to a smaller place on a lake in Orange County. He is home only about one week a month, but “it’s quality time,” he says. “Every day is like Christmas.”
Since becoming a minister, in 1995 Wilson started Restoration House of America, a center near Lynchburg, Va., that helps rehabilitate prison inmates. He also continues to act from time to time and has been seen in the TV series Baby, I’m Back, The New Odd Couple and Girlfriends. He’s been married since 1974 and has six children.
“I’m just a nobody telling everybody about Somebody who can save anybody,” he shouts gleefully. “I’m Johnny Jesus-seed,” he says. “I just plant my seeds and go on.”