Is actor Haywood Nelson a half-brother of the late singer Prince?
That question was raised earlier this week after a meme featuring the former What’s Happening actor went viral on social media.
The meme features an old photo of a young Haywood Nelson along with a caption identifying the actor as the half-brother of the legendary singer Prince.
FYI: Haywood Nelson from 70’s sitcom What’s Happening is Prince Half Brother. pic.twitter.com/4nBDzWSqkG
— Bernard Peterkin Jr (@PeterkinBernard) April 23, 2016
Other photos of Nelson apparently from the 1970s were also posted on Twitter with similar messages claiming that Haywood and Prince were related. One particular tweet even lined up a photograph of Prince from the early 1970s next to a photograph of Haywood Nelson to show the resemblance and similarities between the two celebrities.
Prince Rogers Nelson circa 1973
vs Haywood Nelson circa 1978
They fam? pic.twitter.com/5tFrTNVoYV
— Donny Getthehellaway (@markchappelle) March 25, 2015
This is Prince half brother…bet you didn’t know pic.twitter.com/KUQwWOCLcN
— Zach Beasley (@PeoplesVuePoint) April 22, 2016
Is it true? Was Haywood Nelson the half-brother of the late singer Prince Rogers Nelson?
Apparently not! According to Snopes, the former star of What’s Happening and What’s Happening Now was not one of Prince’s brothers.
— snopes.com (@snopes) April 26, 2016
The report highlighted an online article published by Heavy which focused on several facts about the late Purple Rain actor, including the names of his parents and siblings.
According to the article, Prince had eight brothers and sisters. The vast majority of his siblings were half-brothers and half-sisters; Tyka Nelson was reportedly his only full sibling.
— Power 105.1 (@Power1051) April 27, 2016
His half-siblings on his father’s side consisted of three sisters (Lorna, Norrine and Sharon) and two brothers (Duane and John).
His half-siblings on his mother’s side were brothers Omarr Baker and Alfred Jackson.
Haywood Nelson is not featured on either of those lists. Some people may confuse Haywood’s real-life name with the character that he played on What’s Happening, Dwayne Nelson. It is true that Prince had a half-brother named Duane, which may have led some to believe that the viral meme about Haywood and Prince being related is true.
So we dug into the archives for photos of Prince’s half-brother, Duane Nelson. (1/2)
He is front row, 3rd from left. pic.twitter.com/7SkqiXJUDD
— Milwaukee Panthers (@MKEPanthers) April 21, 2016
However, once you distinguish the fictitious character from the actual actor, that clears things up rather quickly. Sadly, Duane Nelson (Prince’s real half-brother) passed away at the age of 52.
Legendary Singer Prince’s Half Brother Duane Nelson Dies At 52 https://t.co/gFNMEJ2FD2 pic.twitter.com/LEQ77JbiRp
— Boyce Watkins (@drboycewatkins1) April 27, 2016
Prince definitely had a strong background in music long before he became the legendary singer, songwriter, and musician that his fans eventually loved and admired around the world. His father, John Lewis Nelson, was a pianist who reportedly co-wrote some of Prince’s songs. His mother, Mattie Shaw, was a singer and jazz musician.
Prince’s only full sibling, Tyka Nelson, is also a singer and musician. According to Heavy, Tyka and Prince collaborated on music together as children but never as adults.
— Global Grind (@GlobalGrind) April 27, 2016
Who, then, is Haywood Nelson? Haywood is a 56-year-old actor primarily known for starring in the popular 1970s sitcom What’s Happening and its 1980s spin-off series What’s Happening Now. As a child actor, Haywood starred in the short-lived Sanford and Son spin-off series Grady alongside the late Whitman Mayo.
— Silver Age TV (@SilverAgeTV) September 7, 2015
In a December 2012 interview with Sitcoms Online, Haywood opened up about his popular starring roles as well as his recent behind-the-scenes work.
“When What’s Happening Now!! completed its syndication run I jumped fast into film production camera assisting. That led to screenwriting, and Film Distribution International.”
Haywood further explained that he worked as a stagehand for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and The Dr. Oz Show. He also established two companies, including a start-up gaming company. Perhaps the viral meme which falsely claims that Haywood Nelson is Prince’s half-brother will inadvertently boost Haywood’s exposure and get him back in the limelight.
[Image Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]