Good Times star Ja'Net DuBois dies at 74
Actress and singer Ja’Net DuBois has died at her Glendale, Calif., home. She was 74. According to the Associated Press, police responded to a call at her home Monday night; she appears to have died in her sleep overnight of natural causes.
DuBois most famously portrayed the sexy and sassy Willona Woods on the popular 1970s sitcom Good Times, developed by Norman Lear for CBS. The character’s presence increased as the series said goodbye to leads John Amos during the show’s third season and Esther Role, who did not appear on the show’s fifth season.
Janet Jackson joined the sitcom during the show’s fifth season, where she portrayed Woods’ adopted daughter, Penny. Jackson and DuBois enjoyed a longtime friendship in real life, with Jackson sharing photos of the pair throughout the years.
In December, DuBois reunited with her former castmates Amos, Bern Nadette Stanis, and Jimmy Walker for ABC’s Live in Front of A Studio Audience. Although she didn’t reprise the role that made her a household name, she was dancing and clapping at a dress rehearsal attended by EW as audience members cheered to see them all together again on the recreated set.
“My dear Ja’Net,” Stanis wrote a tribute to her friend DuBois on Instagram on Tuesday. “You were like an aunt to me. We shared so many things, from my early days on Good Times to just two weeks ago at the Hollywood Show. I will miss you and all of your cast family will miss you. Rest in peace beautiful soul. We are praying for your family.”
On Feb. 1, DuBois, Stanis, Walker, and Good Times costars Ralph Carter and Johnny Brown met with fans and posed for photos at the 2020 Hollywood Show.
DuBois famously sang and co-wrote The Jeffersons theme song “Movin’ On Up.” Her credits include a variety of television and film projects, including A Man Called Adam, Sanford and Son, Kojak, The Facts of Life, Roots: The Next Generations, A Different World, Beverly Hills, 90210, and Everybody Loves Raymond.
She won two Emmy Awards during her career, both for her voiceover work on The PJ’s.
DuBois has three surviving children: Burghardt, Rani, and Yovanne DuBois. Her son Raj Kristo Gupta died in 1987 after a three-year battle with cancer; he was 36.