In the immortal words of Florida Evans, damn, damn, damn! Ja’net DuBois, the actor best known for her indelible portrayal of Willona Woods on Good Times, has died at the age of 74. Ja’net made an indelible mark on the landscape of 1970s television not only with her work on Good Times, but with her performance of The Jeffersons theme song, Movin’ On Up, which she co-wrote. She also appeared in such 70s and 80s staples as Sanford and Son, The Love Boat, The Facts of Life, and Roots: The Next Generations. According to TMZ, Ja’net unexpectedly died in her sleep in her Glendale, CA home.
Prior to her career in television, Ja’net, who was born in Broolyn, NY, was an accomplished theater actor having been discovered by Norman Lear while starring in the Lanford Wilson play The Hot I Baltimore. Throughout her career she continued working on the stage starring in productions of Golden Boy and A Raisin in the Sun (via Wikipedia).
Ja’net won two Emmys for her voice-over work on the Eddie Murphy animated series The PJs. And you’d be pressed to find a Black TV show from the 90s she wasn’t on. A Different World, Hanging with Mister Cooper, Moesha, and Sister, Sister were all graced with her presence. There’s no doubt, Ja’net stayed booked and blessed. She also had a storied movie career with memorable roles in Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, The Big Easy, Tropic Thunder and most memorably (to me at least) as the ass kicking, back flipping Ma Bell in I’m Gonna Get You Sucker.
And as if all that weren’t enough to cement Ja’net into the working women’s hall of fame, she was also featured in Janet Jackson‘s video for Control, playing Janet’s controlling mom. A fitting collaboration as a young Janet played Willona’s adopted daughter Penny on Good Times.
Nobody made an entrance like Willona. Rest, Ja’Net Dubois.❤️ pic.twitter.com/6iieXh3dau
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) February 18, 2020
Here’s hoping Ja’net is kicking back and relaxing in that dee-luxe apartment in the sky.