R.I.P. Ja'Net Dubois, singer of The Jeffersons theme song and star of Good Times

She worked with a young Janet Jackson and created a theme song still referenced today by the likes of Jeff Goldblum

Image: The Everett Collection

Ja'Net Dubois, who many know from her role as the neighborhood gossip Willona Woods in the All in the Family spin-off Good Times, passed away on February 18, 2020.

She worked with a young Janet Jackson. Jackson, as Penny Gordon Woods, joined Good Times as an abandoned girl adopted by Willona. Ja'Net already had belted the recognizable Jeffersons theme, so perhaps she gave some singing pointers to the young Janet.

Others might know her from that easily recognizable theme song from another spin-off, The Jeffersons. The song, "Movin' on Up," is possibly one of the most iconic TV theme songs. Four decades later, "Movin' On Up" remains one of the few TV themes that just about every American can sing. It has stayed remarkably relevant.

As recently as 2016, there was a visual joke based on the song in a Super Bowl commercial for Apartments.com. Jeff Goldblum plays "Movin' On Up" on a piano as he is hoisted by a crane up the side of a luxury apartment building.

Dubois was working on Good Times at CBS Television City when she bumped into series producer Norman Lear. As she later recalled to Jet Magazine, she told her boss she was pleased with her success but was aching to branch out, to show off her other skills.

Lear suggested she work on the theme song to his upcoming series The Jeffersons. Dubois talked with her mother about the family's dream of moving on up in the world. "I moved my whole family," Dubois recalled. "I bought [my mom] a house, bought her a mink coat. I did everything, retired her. I did everything I ever promised her." The song would later become the closing track to her debut solo album, 1980's Queen of the Highway.

The 1998 Marlon Wayans and David Spade comedy Senseless is probably largely forgotten today. But the closing credits, and its soundtrack, did offer up a Nineties remake of "Movin' On Up" — "Gotta Be...Movin' on Up" by Prince Be of spiritual hip-pop group P.M. Dawn. And here's where it gets a little small-world-ish. Ja'Net Dubois played Grandma Ellington on the sitcom The Wayans Brothers around the time the film was made.

The actress and singer was 74 years old.

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jacko3 17 days ago
Ja'Net Dubois: Classy Lady .. GOD Be With Her .....
mdit21 1 month ago
She was terrific in "Good Times" and portrayed my favorite character. "Movin' On Up" never gets old and her performance nailed it. I am so sorry to hear about her passing. Especially today, February 22; 44 years ago another terrific vocalist had passed, Florence Ballard.
metvfan123 1 month ago
Janette DuBois RIP you were so funny in Good Times and you have a great voice and I know it is also going to be more loved in heaven along with all the greats!! Have A Great Rest and enjoy being back with those you loved list and reunited with again!!
moax429 1 month ago
She also played J.T. (Kevin Hooks)'s mother Rodeen Gamble in the classic Peabody Award-winning special "J.T." in 1969. Lucky I bought the VHS tape of that show from Carousel Film and Video in New York in 2003 before they went out of business (I've since transferred "J.T." to a DVD). Ja'net was billed as "Jeanette DuBois" in the credits.

R.I.P., Ms. DuBois. Enjoyed you in "J.T." as well as "Good Times." You will be missed.
Utzaake 1 month ago
Lot of the royalty checks Ja'Net Dubois received came from Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment. "Movin' On Up" was played during one of the play stoppages in almost every Toronto Maple Leafs home contest this millennium.
LC 1 month ago
The neighbor's name was Willona. We grew up watching and loving this show. Nothing compared to it at that time. Rest in love Ja'Net Dubois.
VaughnBaskin 1 month ago
Goodbye Thelma, thanks for the funky memories.

And oh! Say hi to George Jefferson when you get there will you?
This is not Thelma. This is Thelma's neighbor across the hall.
Spider1 1 month ago
In the 70’s while attending City College in NYC I was the Manager of The Famous Club
“Baby Grand” In Harlem. She would come in and sit in the back at corner table and
enjoy the shows. The crowds would go WILD! when they saw her. She was always very
polite, taking pictures ( House man had a Polaroid!) and very funny.
cperrynaples 1 month ago
Actually, it's not certain how old Ja'Net Dubois was when she died as there are contradictions on various sites. They can't even agree on whether she was born in Brooklyn or Philadelphia. The only confirmed fact is that her birthday is August 5th!
RobCertSDSCascap 1 month ago
A beautiful lady with a lovely voice- RIP.
Bludy22 1 month ago
I know The Jeffersons was a spin-off of All In the Family. Not so sure about Good Times.
BrittReid Bludy22 1 month ago
Good Times was a spin-off of Maude,which was a spin-off of All In The Family.
MiaDellaValle Bludy22 1 month ago
Maude was a spin-off of All in the Family. Good Times was a spin-off of Maude.
Fun Fact: Florida's husband was Henry on Maude but became James on Good Times! He was always played by John Amos, who is still alive!
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