Ja’net DuBois, who was beloved as Willona Woods on the Norman Lear-sitcom Good Times, has died. She was 74 years old.
Ja’net DuBois Passes Away
TMZ reports that the actress/singer passed away, today, February 18. She died suddenly in her sleep at her Glendale, Calif. home. There were no reports of illness so as of this writing, it is unclear what caused her death.
In fact, DuBois had recently appeared at a fan event in Hollywood a few weeks ago. Last December, she appeared along with Good Times co-stars Jimmie Walker (J.J.) and Bern Nadette Stanis (Thelma) following the live performance of a Good Times episode in which original cast member John Amos (James) had appeared in as a politician.
DuBois, born in Brooklyn, N.Y. on August 5, 1945, was also a talented singer and songwriter. She composed and sang the theme song (Movin’ On Up) to another Norman Lear sitcom, The Jeffersons.
As Good Times’ Willona, DuBois was the gold standard of TV sitcom neighbors — Willona offered a supportive ear to pal Florida (Esther Rolle) and traded quips with Nathan ‘Booger’ Bookman (Johnny Brown), the apartment building’s superintendent, before returning to her upstairs apartment. One fan of the actress assembled a video of Willona’s many entrances into the Evans’ apartment, which usually commenced with a cheerful “Hi, y’all!”
After Rolle left the show, DuBois’s part expanded into a series lead. Willona adopted a young girl named Penny (Janet Jackson) who came from an abused home and interacted even more with the Evans clan.
DuBois remained with the show for the entire run. In the finale, Willona and Florida (who had returned to the series) lamented that they were each moving out of the projects because they’d miss one another. Then, they ran to embrace each other upon learning that they were moving to the same new apartment address!
After Good Times, DuBois guest-starred on several series including The Love Boat, The Facts of Life, A Different World, Dream On, Beverly Hills 90210, Home Improvement, and Touched by an Angel. She was a series regular on The Wayans Bros. and The PJs for which she won two Primetime Emmys. Her big-screen credits include Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.
DuBois’s first TV credit was on the daytime soap Love of Life. She played the part of Loretta Allen, a contract character.
Entertainment Hub sends sincere condolences to DuBois’s family and loved ones at this difficult time.