Good Times actress Ja'Net DuBois is dead


Good Times actress Ja'Net DuBois is dead

By Kevin Jackson
Observer writer

Friday, February 21, 2020

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In the 1970s, black American sitcoms were popular with Jamaicans. Among those which aired on the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC), were Good Times, What's Happening, and The Jeffersons .

Actress Ja'Net DuBois who played Willona Woods, adoptive mother of Penny (played by Janet Jackson) on Good Times, died on Sunday from natural causes. She was 74.

Good Times centered on the lives of the Evans family who lived in the projects of Chicago. The other lead stars were Esther Rolle (who played Florida Evans), John Amos (James Evans), Jimmie Walker (JJ), Bernnadette Stanis (Thelma), and Ralph Carter (Michael).

Walker commented on DuBois' passing on his Facebook page.

“Sad to announce Ja'Net DuBois [Willona] passed away yesterday. She was a great person. Lots of energy, funny and a great talent. Condolences to her family, friends, and fans. She will be missed. I'm sad.”

Renowned television producer Norman Lear saw DuBois in Lanford Wilson's play The Hot l Baltimore, which led to her being cast in Good Times. She had made her name in theatre and television since the 1960s.

Good Times, The Jeffersons, and What's Happening showed Jamaicans different aspects of the black experience in the United States. The Jeffersons presented a family in the dry-cleaning business who moved to upscale Manhattan, while What's Happening focused on a middle-class family headed by a single parent.

DuBois, was also a singer who released three albums. She co-wrote and sang the theme song Movin' on Up for The Jeffersons.

In a 2006 interview with this writer at the BET Awards, Stanis spoke about the impact of Good Times.

“We tackled themes that many shows were afraid to take on back then. We truly set the pace for many other shows and the impact was tremendous. Those were fun times,” she said.

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