Ja'Net Dubois, who played Willona on TV show ‘Good Times,’ dead at 74

Ja'Net Dubois, who played the nosy, wise-cracking neighbor Willona Woods on the 1970s sitcom Good Times, died Tuesday at the age of 74, according to entertainment news outlet TMZ. Family said Dubois was found dead at her home in Glendale, Calif., and that she apparently passed away in her sleep overnight Monday, TMZ reports.
Ja'Net Dubois, who played the nosy, wise-cracking neighbor Willona Woods on the 1970s sitcom Good Times, died Tuesday at the age of 74, according to entertainment news outlet TMZ. Family said Dubois was found dead at her home in Glendale, Calif., and that she apparently passed away in her sleep overnight Monday, TMZ reports.

Ja'Net Dubois, who played the nosy, wise-cracking neighbor Willona Woods on the iconic 1970s sitcom “Good Times,” died Tuesday at the age of 74, according to multiple news reports.

Family said Dubois was found dead at her home in Glendale, California, and that she apparently passed away in her sleep overnight Monday, TMZ reports.

There is no information about who found the actress, but reports say she appeared to be in good health recently and didn't appear to be suffering from any outward health problems.

TMZ reports that the actress attended an event in Hollywood just a few weeks ago.

Good Times was a spin-off of the show Maude and aired for six seasons on CBS from 1974 to 1979.

Produced by Norman Lear, the show was the first to feature a two-parent African-American family.

Good Times aired on CBS from 1974 to 1979. The show starred (from left) Jimmie Walker, Ja'net Dubois and Esther Rolle.
Good Times aired on CBS from 1974 to 1979. The show starred (from left) Jimmie Walker, Ja'net Dubois and Esther Rolle.

Credit: CBS/Photofest

Credit: CBS/Photofest

For all six seasons, Dubois portrayed Florida and James Evans’ high-spirited neighbor, who would stop by from time to time to share the latest gossip in the neighborhood.

Dubois’ other claim to fame was being a gifted singer.

She  co-wrote and performed the theme song “Movin’ on Up” for another hit show on TV at the time, “The Jeffersons,” which ran from 1975 until 1985.

Dubois was born in Brooklyn, New York, on Aug. 5, 1945.

She began acting in theater during the early 1960s, and appeared on Broadway with Sammy Davis Jr., and Louis Gossett Jr.

Reports say Lear cast DuBois in Good Times after seeing her performance in Lanford Wilson's play “The Hot l Baltimore.”

TV Land, which airs reruns of Good Times, tweeted a tribute to the actress on Tuesday afternoon:

In 1970 she appeared in her first film, Diary of a Mad Housewife. Her later film credits include "I'm Gonna Git You Sucka" (1988), and "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" (2003). She also made guest appearances in dozens of other TV shows through the years.

During the 1980s she opened the Ja'net DuBois Academy of Theater Arts and Sciences, a performing-arts school for children in Long Island, New York.

In 1995, DuBois won a CableAce award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the Lifetime movie Other Women’s Children. She also won two Emmy Awards for voiceover work on the animated program The PJs in 1999.

Reports said DuBois is survived by 3 children.

— This is a developing story. Please return to AJC.com for updates.

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