Jeannette Theresa Dubois
August 5, 1932
August 5, 1938
August 5, 1945
|Died||February 17, 2020|
Glendale, California, U.S.
|Known for||Willona Woods – Good Times|
Ma Bell – I'm Gonna Git You Sucka
Ms. Avery – The PJs
(m. 1950–?; divorced)
Jeannette Theresa Dubois (August 5, 1932, 1938 or 1945 (sources differ) – February 17, 2020), known professionally as Ja'Net DuBois, Ja'net DuBois, and Ja'Net Du Bois[n 1] (/ /), was an American actress and singer-songwriter. DuBois was best known for her portrayal of Willona Woods, the neighborhood gossip maven and a friend of the Evans family on the CBS sitcom Good Times, which originally aired from 1974 to 1979.
DuBois additionally co–wrote and sang the theme song "Movin' on Up" for The Jeffersons, which originally aired from 1975 until 1985. After beginning her career onstage in the early 1960s, DuBois went on to appear on television shows and films into the mid-2010s.
Early life and career
Born Jeannette Theresa Dubois on August 5, 1932 (other sources state her birth year as 1938 or 1945), in the Brooklyn borough of New York City or Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (sources differ), DuBois was the daughter of Lillian Gouedy (1910–1984) and Gordon Adelbert Dubois (1915–1960). DuBois was raised in Amityville, New York, on Long Island.
DuBois began her acting career onstage during the early 1960s, making her Broadway debut with a small role in the short-lived play The Long Dream, which ran four days in February 1960. She appeared in the drama A Raisin in the Sun with Louis Gossett Jr., though not the original Broadway production. After appearing in the play The Blacks in October 1963, she became an understudy for the housekeeper role, portrayed by Gertrude Jeannette, in the comedy Nobody Loves an Albatross, which ran through June 1964. Thereafter, DuBois appeared in the Broadway musical Golden Boy with Sammy Davis Jr., Billy Daniels, Lola Falana and Johnny Brown. DuBois portrayed Anna, the sister of Davis' character, through the entire original run from October 1964 to March 1966.
DuBois's early television acting credits include the 1969 television movie J.T. and the long–running television soap opera Love of Life. From 1970 until 1972, DuBois portrayed Loretta Allen in the soap opera, in which she was noted as one of the first African–American female regular cast members on a daytime series. Before this role, DuBois appeared in her first film, portraying Vera in Diary of a Mad Housewife, released in 1970. Following the appearance in her first film, DuBois landed the role of Stormy Monday in the 1973 comedy Five on the Black Hand Side with Clarice Taylor, D'Urville Martin and Glynn Turman. In 1973, DuBois appeared in Lanford Wilson's play The Hot l Baltimore.
During her time in the play, television producer Norman Lear saw her performance at the Mark Taper Forum. Lear, being impressed with DuBois's performance, then cast her in his CBS sitcom Good Times as Wilona Woods, the Evans family's friend and Florida Evans's (portrayed by Esther Rolle) best friend and neighbor. DuBois appeared in the series from February 1974 until the conclusion in July 1979. DuBois began the series as a co–star, alongside Rolle and John Amos (who departed the series in 1976). In 1977, DuBois became the series' lead during the beginning of its fifth season owing to the temporary departure of Rolle. DuBois returned to her co–starring role once Rolle returned in the sixth and final season in 1978.
After the conclusion of Good Times in 1979, DuBois recorded the album Again, Ja'Net DuBois on her Peanuts and Caviar label in 1983. DuBois appeared in former Good Times co-star Janet Jackson's 1987 "Control" music video as her mother. In 1992, she co-starred with Clifton Davis in And I Still Rise, a play written and directed by Maya Angelou. DuBois co-starred in the films I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (1988) and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003), and on television in Moesha, The Steve Harvey Show, A Different World, and The Wayans Bros.
Other ventures and accolades
During the 1980s, DuBois operated the Ja'net DuBois Academy of Theater Arts and Sciences, a performing arts school for teenagers in Long Island, New York. In 1992, DuBois, Danny Glover and Ayuko Babu co-founded the Pan African Film & Arts Festival in Los Angeles. In 1995, DuBois won a CableACE award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the Lifetime movie Other Women's Children. DuBois won Emmy Awards for her voice-over work on the animated program The PJs in 1999 and 2001. DuBois along with the cast of Good Times received The Impact Icon Award at the 2006 TV Land Awards. In 2000, DuBois served as Grand Marshal for the North Amityville Community Parade and Festival Day in Amityville, New York. DuBois was an honorary member of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority.
DuBois married Sajit Gupta in 1950. According to her Brazilian consular document, DuBois was divorced from Gupta by April 1959, but another source states she was still married in 1964. Together DuBois and Gupta had four children: Provat Gupta, Rani Gupta, Kesha Gupta-Fields, and Raj Kristo Gupta, who died of cancer in 1987 at age 36. Provat is a basketball coach based in California. In 1959, DuBois was romantically involved with actor Brock Peters.
- Queen of the Highway (Som Livre, 1980)
- Again, Ja'Net DuBois (Peanuts & Caviar Internationale, 1983)
- Hidden Treasures (Peanuts & Caviar Internationale, 2007)
|1966||A Man Called Adam||Martha|
|1973||Five on the Black Hand Side||Stormy Monday|
|1977||A Piece of the Action||Nellie Bond|
|1983||The Tom Swift and Linda Craig Mystery Hour||Mrs. Gorman||TV movie|
|1987||Kids Like These||Mrs. Page||TV movie|
|1988||I'm Gonna Git You Sucka||Ma Bell|
|1990||Heart Condition||Mrs. Stone|
|1990||Hammer, Slammer, & Slade||Joanne Wilson||TV movie|
|1990||Penny Ante: The Motion Picture||Aunt|
|1993||Harlan & Merleen||Maxine||TV movie|
|1996||Sophie & the Moonhanger||Agnes||TV movie|
|1996||Don't Look Back||Mrs. Lawson||TV movie|
|1998||Best Friends for Life||Katie Pegues||TV movie|
|1998||Hard Time||Lefty||TV movie|
|1999||Hard Time: Hostage Hotel||Lefty, Logan's Assistant||TV movie|
|2003||Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle||Momma Bosley|
|2016||She's Got a Plan||Betty Angelo|
|1970–72||Love of Life||Loretta Allen||unknown episodes|
|1972||Sanford and Son||Juanita Grismore||1 episode|
|1973||Shaft||Diana Richie||1 episode|
|1973||The Blue Knight||Celia Louise|
|1974–79||Good Times||Willona Woods||133 episodes|
|1974||Kojak||Paula Thomas||1 episode|
|1975||Caribe||Melinda Jameson||1 episode|
|1979||Roots: The Next Generations||Sally Harvey||1 episode|
|1980||The Love Boat||Evelyn Hopkins||1 episode|
|1981||Hellinger's Law||Dottie Singer|
|1981||The Facts of Life||Ethel (Tootie's grandmother)||1 episode|
|1981||The Sophisticated Gents||Onetha Wiggins||TV miniseries|
|1989||Nearly Departed||Clerk||1 episode|
|1990||New Attitude||Irma||1 episode|
|1990||Doctor Doctor||Ella Wilkes||1 episode|
|1991||A Different World||Brenda Hanes||1 episode|
|1991||True Colors||May Freeman||1 episode|
|1991||Dream On||June||1 episode|
|1992||Beverly Hills, 90210||Arlene||1 episode|
|1992-93||The Golden Palace||Louise Wilson||2 episodes|
|1994||Sister, Sister||Mom O'Danielle||1 episode|
|1994||Hangin' with Mr. Cooper||Dorothy Cooper||1 episode|
|1991/1995||Home Improvement||Carol||2 episodes|
|1995||ER||Macy Chamberlain||1 episode|
|1997||Moesha||Mrs. Moss||1 episode|
|1997||Touched by an Angel||Esther Hamilton||1 episode|
|1996–1998||The Wayans Bros.||Grandma Ellington||10 episodes|
|1999||Clueless||Aunt Liddy||1 episode|
|1999–2001||The PJs||Mrs. Florence Avery (voice)||42 episodes|
|2000||The Steve Harvey Show||Delores||1 episode|
|2000||Everybody Loves Raymond||Dottie||1 episode|
|2000/2002||As Told by Ginger||Mrs. Patterson (voice)||2 episodes|
|2003||Boomtown||Denise Smith||1 episode|
|2003||One on One||Queen Esther||1 episode|
|2006||Crossing Jordan||Mrs. Jones||1 episode|
|2007||Random! Cartoons||Mom (voice)||1 episode|
|2007||Cold Case||Edna Johnson||1 episode|
|2011||G.I. Joe: Renegades||Grams Hinton (voice)|
|2019||Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Good Times||Herself|
Awards and nominations
|1998||NAACP Image Award||Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series||Touched by an Angel||Nominated|
|1999||Primetime Emmy||Outstanding Voice-Over Performance||The PJs||Won|
|2001||Primetime Emmy||Outstanding Voice-Over Performance||The PJs: Let's Get Ready to Rumba||Won|
|2006||TV Land||Image Award||Good Times||Won|
- Capitalization of "n" in first name is uncertain in Good Times title card, which credits her in capital letters "JA'NET du BOIS". Last name is given as two words, with "du" lowercase.
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- "Brazilian consular document". Familysearch.org. April 24, 1959 – via Imgur.com.
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- Windsor, Carl D. (2006). On This Day: Daily Inspiration for the History Buff, the Trivia Lover, and the Innately Curious. Howard Books. ISBN 978-1582296548.
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This native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania...
- LoBrutto, Vincent (2018). "Good Times". TV in the USA: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas. Greenwood. p. 39. ISBN 978-1440829727.
...Ja'net DuBois (1945– )...
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Raj Kristo Gupta, the son of popular TV and movie actress Ja'Net DuBois, died recently in New York following a three-year battle with cancer. He was 36. At the time of his death, Gupta was producing a training workshop with his family's organization, Ja'net DuBois Academy [of] Theater Arts and Sciences for teenagers in Long Island, N.Y.
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Jeannette Dubois, better known as Ja'Net Du Bois (Ja-Nay Doo-Bwah)...
- The Redd Foxx Encyclopedia of Black Humor, Redd Foxx, Norma Miller, 1977.Retrieved March 14, 2020.
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Jeanette DuBois, who joined the cast of The Blacks last October and soon thereafter won the understudy slot to the housekeeper in the comedy hit Nobody Loves an Albatross...
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- "Celebrity Beat – New York to Hollywood". Jet. Vol. 64 no. 10. Johnson Publishing Company. May 16, 1983. p. 53.
- "Actor Clifton Davis Stars in Maya Angelou's New Musical". Jet. Vol. 82 no. 20. Johnson Publishing Company. September 7, 1992. p. 60. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
- "2019 Highlights". Pan African Film & Arts Festival. 2019. Archived from the original on November 2, 2019.
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- Elaine Dutka (August 14, 2001). "Morning Report". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 28, 2019.
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