A cause of death was not immediately given, and her family told TMZ that DuBois hadn’t complained of any pain or illness in the days leading up to her death. She unexpectedly passed away in her sleep at her home in Glendale, California.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, on August 5, 1945, DuBois became a two-time Emmy Award winner for her voice-over work on the animated series The PJs. In 1969, she won a Peabody Award for the CBS children’s movie J.T.
DuBois was passionate about giving back to the community after finding success in Hollywood. She co-founded the Pan African Film & Arts Festival in 1992 to showcase “the broad spectrum of Black creative works, particularly those that reinforce positive images and help destroy negative stereotypes.”
Here’s what you need to know about Ja’Net DuBois:
1. DuBois’ Son Raj Kristo Died At Age 36
DuBois was incredibly private when it came to sharing her personal life with the public, and few details are known about when she first met and married husband Sajit Gupta, whom she later divorced. DuBois shared four children with Gupta before tragedy struck in 1987, and the couple lost their son Raj Kristo at age 36 to cancer, according to EW.
Daughter Rani DuBois briefly followed in her mother’s footsteps. She appeared alongside DuBois on-screen in Good Times, playing various roles between 1973 and 1978, and guest-starred on the sitcom What’s Happening!! as Maxine.
2. She Lived To See Tiffany Haddish Play Her Role of Willona Woods On ABC’s ‘Good Times’ Live Special
During ABC’s Live In Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family and Good Times holiday special in December, comedian Tiffany Haddish played DuBois’ iconic role on Good Times.
Joining Haddish in ABC’s live re-staging was two-time Golden Globe nominee Andre Braugher, who played the Evans’ family patriarch, James Evans, and Academy Award winner Viola Davis played Evans’ wife, Florida. The roles of their three fictional children were played by former SNL cast member Jay Pharoah as JJ, This Is Us star Asante Blackk as Michael and Corinne Foxx, Jamie Foxx’s real-life daughter, as Thelma.
Haddish, 40, said she was more excited than nervous in taking over DuBois’ role. The Girls Trip star told Extra TV, “It’s gonna be a good time. It’s one of the shows I grew up watching.”
3. DuBois Played Momma Bosley In ‘Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle’ & Was A Series Regular On ‘The Wayans Bros.’
While DuBois found success on the big screen — she appeared in Heart Condition in 1990 with Denzel Washington, Waterproof with Burt Reynolds in 2000 and most recently in 2016’s She’s Got A Plan — her resume of TV credits is most impressive.
She appeared on almost every hit TV series throughout the ’80s, ’90s and early 2000s. DuBois guest-starred on Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper, Cold Case, Everybody Loves Raymond, Touched By An Angel and Moesha.
From 1996 to 1997, DuBois starred as Grandma Ellington on The Wayans Bros. alongside Shawn and Marlon Wayans and the late John Witherspoon.
4. ‘Good Times’ Was The First Mainstream TV Series To Feature a Two-Parent African American Household
The series, originally created by Eric Monte and Mike Evans, with veteran Norman Lear helping develop, Good Times premiered on CBS in 1974, a spin-off from the hit series, Maude. It was the first mainstream TV series to feature a two-parent African American household.
Good Times followed the lives of a poor Chicago couple, Florida (Esther Rolle) and James Evans (John Amos), as they raised their kids, JJ (Jimmie Walker), Thelma (BernNadette Stanis) and Michael (Ralph Carter). Along with Sanford and Sons and The Jeffersons, it was one of the highest-rated TV series in its first few years. DuBois played Willona Woods for all six seasons the showed aired on TV.
5. DuBois Famously Composed ‘The Jeffersons’ Theme Song ‘Movin’ On Up’
DuBois, the multi-talented actor, singer and dancer, celebrated her 74th birthday in August In addition to her acting run on Good Times, she both composed and sang the theme song, “Movin’ On Up,” for Norman Lear’s other popular sitcom, The Jeffersons.
In 2008, she released a CD showcasing her vocal talent entitled Hidden Treasures.