Ja'net Dubois

Ja’net Dubois was born Jeannette Theresa Dubois on August 5, 1945. She was an American actress and singer who went by the stage name Ja’net DuBois. She was best known for her role as Willona Woods on the CBS comedy “Good Times,” in which she played the neighborhood gossip queen and a friend of the Evans family from 1974 until 1979. DuBois also co-wrote and sang the theme song for the sitcom “The Jeffersons,” which ran from 1975 to 1985. She began her acting career on stage in the early 1960s and continued to perform on television and in films until the mid-2010s. We’ll be here to celebrate her special day.

Fast Facts

Full Name:

Jeannette Theresa Dubois

Nickname:

Ja'net

Birth date:

August 5, 1945

Death date:

February 17, 2020 (age 74)

Zodiac Sign:

Leo

Height:

5' 5"

Relationship Status:

Divorced

Net Worth:

$2 million

Background

Jeannette Theresa Dubois was born in the Brooklyn borough of New York City on August 5, 1945. She was raised in Amityville, Long Island, as the daughter of Lillian Gouedy and Gordon Adelbert Dubois. DuBois began her acting career on stage in the early 1960s, with a modest role in the Broadway production “The Long Dream,” which ran for four days in February 1960. She became an understudy for Gertrude Jeannette’s housekeeping character in the comedy “Nobody Loves an Albatross,” which ran from October 1963 to June 1964, after starring in the play “The Blacks.” Following that, DuBois starred alongside Sammy Davis Jr., Billy Daniels, Lola Falana, and Johnny Brown in the Broadway musical “Golden Boy.”

Her early television acting credits include “J.T.” (1969) and “Love of Life,” a long-running television soap opera. In 1970, DuBois starred in her first film, “Diary of a Mad Housewife,” in which she played Vera. DuBois won the role of Stormy Monday in the 1973 comedy “Five on the Black Hand Side” after appearing in her debut film. Norman Lear, a television producer, saw her perform at the Mark Taper Forum during her time in the play. After seeing DuBois’ performance, Lear cast her as Wilona Woods in his CBS sitcom “Good Times.” She appeared in the series from February 1974 until July 1979, when it ended.

Following the completion of “Good Times” in 1979, she released “Again, Ja’Net DuBois” in 1983 on her Peanuts and Caviar label. During the 1980s, DuBois ran the Ja’net DuBois Academy of Theater Arts and Sciences on Long Island, New York, which was a performing arts school for youths. The Pan African Film & Arts Festival was co-founded by DuBois, Danny Glover, and Ayuko Babu in Los Angeles in 1992. In Amityville, New York, she served as Grand Marshal for the North Amityville Community Parade and Festival Day in 2000. DuBois was also a member of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority as an honorary member.

In 1950, DuBois married Sajit Gupta. DuBois was divorced from Gupta by April 1959, according to her Brazilian consulate paperwork, while another source claims she was still married in 1964. Provat Gupta, Rani Gupta, Kesha Gupta-Fields, and Raj Kristo Gupta, who died of cancer in 1987 at the age of 36, were the couple’s four children. DuBois had a romantic relationship with actor Brock Peters in 1959. She died of cardiac arrest on February 17, 2020, at her home in Glendale, California.

Career timeline

1960
She Makes Her Broadway Debut

DuBois begins her acting career on stage with a modest role in the Broadway production "The Long Dream."

1966
She Makes Her Film Debut

Dubois portrays the role of Martha in “A Man Called Adam.”

1974
She Gets a Part in “Good Times”

She portrays the role of Willona Woods in “Good Times.”

1980
Her First Single Debuts

‘Queen of the Highway’ is Dubois’ first single.

1980s
A Performing Arts School for Youths

DuBois runs the Ja'net DuBois Academy of Theater Arts and Sciences on Long Island, New York, a performing arts school for youths.

1992
The Pan African Film & Arts Festival

The Pan African Film & Arts Festival is co-founded by DuBois, Danny Glover, and Ayuko Babu in Los Angeles.

1999
She Receives Her First Award

Dubois wins ‘Outstanding Voice-Over Performance’ for “The P.Js” at the Primetime Emmy Awards.

Why We Love Ja'net Dubois

  1. She was a style icon

    On "Good Times," Dubois' funkadelic ensembles were always a show-stealer for the crowd. Her character was always dressed in bold fabrics, furs, and flashy styles inspired by the historical period on the show, which was taped in front of a live studio audience. She was also constantly fashionable thanks to her job on the show, where she worked in a boutique.

  2. She had a positive impact

    DuBois' impact extended beyond her vivacious portrayal of Willona. After starting on "Love of Life" in 1970, she became the first African American female lead in a daytime soap opera. In 1975, she was recruited by Lear to write and sing the lead on the long-running comedy "The Jeffersons'" famous theme song "Movin' On Up." DuBois and co-writer Jeff Barry created a piece that would live beyond the original series with the help of a 35-person gospel choir.

  3. Her legacy

    DuBois' death had a deeper meaning for the black film community. She was a founding member of the Pan African Film Festival, which has exhibited films such as "Sarraounia," "Lord of the Street," "Love & Basketball," and many others since its inception in 1992. The Los Angeles-based nonprofit referred to DuBois as "Our Founder, Now Our Angel" in a solemn tribute.

5 Surprising Facts

  1. Her birth year is uncertain

    There are three different published reports of the year DuBois was born: 1932, 1938, and 1945.

  2. She appeared in Janet Jackson’s video

    In 1987, DuBois portrayed Jackson’s mother in the music video, “Control.”

  3. She was also a voice actor

    From 2000 to 2004, she voiced Mrs. Patterson in the Nickelodeon cartoon series "As Told by Ginger."

  4. She died shortly after the “GT” special

    Her death happened barely two months after she appeared on ABC's live "Good Times” special with Stanis and Jimmie Walker (J.J.).

  5. She wasn’t the initial lead actor

    After Esther Rolle departed "Good Times," Dubois became the adult lead, then returned to a supporting role when Rolle returned.

Ja'net Dubois FAQs

Did Ja’net DuBois sing the “Good Times” theme song?

No, she did not.

Where is Ja’Net DuBois buried?

She’s buried at Sunset Memorial Park Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, New Mexico, USA.

Was Esther Rolle friends with Ja Net DuBois?

No, they were not friends.

Ja'net Dubois’s birthday dates

YearDateDay
2022August 5Friday
2023August 5Saturday
2024August 5Monday
2025August 5Tuesday
2026August 5Wednesday

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