Ja’net DuBois (1945–2020)
By Dominic Patten | Deadline Hollywood
Just over two months after she wowed the crowd at ABC’s Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family & Good Times, Ja’net DuBois died suddenly today. She was 74.
As confirmed by her family and those close to the two-time Emmy winner, the seemingly healthy DuBois died early Tuesday in her sleep at her home in Glendale, CA.
She was known for making some of the greatest entrances in sitcom history week after week as neighbor Willona Woods on Good Times, the groundbreaking 1970s sitcom starring Esther Rolle, John Amos, Jimmie Walker and Janet Jackson. Back in December of last year, DuBois joined Walker and co-star Bern Nadette Stanis for an appearance on the latest live retelling of one of Norman Lear’s classic TV shows – and she stole the star-studded show with pure pizzazz.
Good Times wasn’t DuBois’ only connection to Learland. She also co-wrote and sang the iconic “Movin’ on Up” theme song from The Jeffersons that opened each episode of that Lear-produced series from 1975-85 – as the man himself noted on social media today:
DuBois went on to win two Emmys later in life for her vocal work on Eddie Murphy’s 1999-2001 animated series The PJs,
Although the show originally ran from 1974-79 on CBS, the 133 episodes of the inner-city Chicago-set Good Times still is seen on TV Land in repeats. The ViacomCBS-owned outlet send out love to DuBois today as news of her death became known:
TV Land remembers “Good Times” star Ja’net Dubois. In addition to being the Evans family’s lovable neighbor, Willona, Dubois composed and sang “Movin’ on Up” the iconic theme song for “The Jeffersons.” She was 74 and will be missed.
📸: @GettyImages pic.twitter.com/j1TdcuA0q9
— TV Land (@tvland) February 18, 2020
While surely best known for her Good Times role, DuBois was a regular on the big screen and stage, as well as the small screen over her career. The actress’ first feature was the Academy Award-nominated Diary of a Mad Housewife in 1970, and in the late 1950s Dubois appeared on Broadway with Sammy Davis Jr. and Louis Gossett Jr. in Golden Boys.
A co-founder of L.A.’s Pan African Film & Arts Festival, DuBois also starred in the likes of mockflick I’m Gonna Git You Sucka and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle as well as A Different World, Moesha, The Steve Harvey Show, and The Wayans Bros, among others, on TV.