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Police in Glendale, Calif., said they received a report about the DuBois’ death late Monday. She appeared to have died of natural causes and no investigation is ongoing, police Sgt. Dan Stubbs said. No additional details, including her age, were immediately available.
BernNadette Stanis, who played Thelma Evans Anderson on “Good Times,” said she learned of DuBois’ death Tuesday from the actress’ daughter. Stanis said DuBois appeared to be in good health and they had appeared at a signing event two weeks ago. She noted that DuBois kept to herself and no one knew exactly how old she was.
DuBois had a prolific career beyond the 1970s hit “Good Times,” winning two Emmy Awards for her voice work on the WB series “The PJs.” She also composed and sang the theme song for “The Jeffersons.” DuBois’ song “Movin’ on Up” provided a joyous intro to “The Jeffersons” during the show’s 10-season run.
On “Good Times,” DuBois’ Willona Woods was the single, sexy neighbor and best friend to star Esther Rolle’s Florida Evans. Though the comedy had plenty of one-liners, DuBois’ appearances gave an extra dose of comedic relief.
Portrait of the cast of the television show ‘Good Times,’ Los Angeles, California, August 5, 1977. Pictured are, front row, American actresses Esther Rolle (1920 – 1998) (left) and BernNadette Stanis; back row, from left, American actors Jimmie Walker, Ja’net DuBois, and Ralph Carter.
(CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)
DuBois showed off more of her dramatic skills when a young Janet Jackson joined the show as the abused child Penny; DuBois’ character would go on to adopt Penny, and the storyline also forged a long, close relationship with Jackson, who would go on to become a multiplatinum superstar; she cast DuBois as her mother in her 1986 “Control” video.
DuBois’ career started in theater, where she appeared in Broadway productions of “Golden Boy” and “A Raisin in the Sun,” according to a biography on her website. A performance in “The Hot l Baltimore” in Los Angeles caught the eye of Norman Lear, who developed “Good Times” and “The Jeffersons.”
Her film credits included 1970’s “Diary of a Mad Housewife,” “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka” and “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle.”
She was credited in numerous other films as varied as “Basic Instinct,” “Next Friday” and “Tropic Thunder,” which included “Movin’ on Up.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.