Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Remembering Ja'Net DuBois of Good Times, Kellye Nakahara of M*A*S*H, and Others We've Recently Lost

Ja'Net DuBois

Actress Ja'Net DuBois, who was best known for her role as Willona Woods in Good Times, has died. She died on February 17 of cardiac arrest at her Glendale, California, home. Sources differ on her age. Some list her as 74, 81 or 87.

Good Times

DuBois starred as Willona Woods in Good Times, which aired on CBS from 1974 to 1979. Willona was the best friend of Florida Evans (Esther Rolle) and the neighborhood gossip maven. She was a recent divorcée who works at a boutique. The series also starred John Amos (1974-1976), Jimmie Walker, Bern Nadette Stanis, Ralph Carter, Johnny Brown (1977-1979), Janet Jackson (1977-1979) and Ben Powers (1978-1979).

She had a recurring role as Grandma Ellington in 10 episodes of The Wayans Bros. from 1996 to 1997. Some of her other sitcom guest appearances included Sanford and Son, The Love Boat, The Facts of Life (as Tootie's grandmother, Ethel), Dearly Departed, New Attitude, Doctor Doctor, A Different World, True Colors, Dream On, The Golden Palace, Hangin' Mr. Cooper, Sister, Sister, Home Improvement, Moesha, Clueless, The Steve Harvey Show, Everybody Loves Raymond and One on One.

DuBois was also known for her voiceover work. She provided the voice of Mrs. Florence Avery in the 1999-2001 Fox/The WB animated sitcom The PJs. She won two Emmy Awards for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance in 1999 and 2001 for her work. Her other voiceover credits included As Told by Ginger as Mrs. Patterson, Random! Cartoons and G.I. Joe: Renegades.

She appeared as Loretta Allen on the soap opera Love of Life from 1970 to 1972. She is credited as the first African-American woman to appear regularly on a daytime soap. Some of her television drama guest appearances included Shaft, Kojak, Caribe, Crazy Like a Fox, Houston Knights, Beverly Hills 90210, ER, Touched by an Angel, Boomtown, Crossing Jordan and Cold Case.

DuBois co-wrote with Jeff Barry and sang the theme song Movin' on Up for The Jeffersons. She released three albums: Queen of the Highway (1980), Again, Ja'Net DuBois (1983) and Hidden Treasures (2007). She appeared in former Good Times co-star Janet Jackson's 1987 "Control" music video as her mother.

She starred as Ma Bell in the 1988 film I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. Some of her other film credits included Diary of a Mad Housewife, Heart Condition, Waterpoof and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle.

Kellye Nakahara

Actress Kellye Nakahara, who was best known for playing Nurse Kealani Kellye in M*A*S*H, has died. She died from cancer at her home in Pasadena, California on February 16. She was 72.

Nakahara appeared as Lt. Nurse Kealani Kellye in 165 (or 167 according to some sources) episodes of the CBS sitcom M*A*S*H from 1973 to 1983.

Her sitcom guest appearances included At Ease, Growing Pains and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. Some of her television guest appearances included Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Little House on the Prairie, Matt Houston, Lottery!, Otherworld, Hunter, Crisis Center and NYPD Blue.

She appeared as Mrs. Ho, the domestic cook, in the 1985 film Clue. Some of her other film credits included She's Having a Baby, Shattered, 3 Ninjas Kick Back, Black Day Blue Night and Doctor Dolittle (1998). Outside of her acting career, she worked as a watercolor artist who painted and exhibited under her married name, Kellye Wallett.

Lynn Cohen as Magda

Actress Lynn Cohen appeared as Magda in Sex and the City. She died on February 14 in New York City, New York. Ms. Cohen was 86.

Cohen appeared in the recurring role of Magda, Miranda's (Cynthia Nixon) housekeeper, in 13 episodes of Sex and the City in seasons 3-6 of the HBO romantic comedy-drama Sex and the City. She reprised the role in the 2008 film Sex and the City and the 2010 sequel Sex and the City 2.

Some of her other television guest appearances included NYPD Blue, Soul Man, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order (12 episodes as Judge Elizabeth Mizener), Days of Our Lives, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Bored to Death, Nurse Jackie, Damages, Getting On, The Affair, Deadbeat, Master of None, Chicago Med, Blue Bloods, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and God Friended Me. She played Mags in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Paula Kelly

Actress Paula Kelly starred as Liz Williams in the first season of Night Court. She died from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease on February 8 in Whittier, California. Ms. Kelly was 77.

Kelly appeared as Liz Williams, a public defender, in 12 episodes of the first season of Night Court in 1984. She received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for the role.

Some of her sitcom guest appearances included Sanford and Son, Good Times, Amen, The Golden Girls, Baby Talk and Room for Two. Her other television guest appearances included The Young Lawyers, Medical Center, Cannon, The Streets of San Francisco, Police Woman, Kojak, Trapper John, M.D., Insight, Feel the Heat, Hill Street Blues, Finders of Lost Loves, St. Elsewhere, South Central and Any Day Now.

She appeared in the recurring role of Ginger Jones in 24 episodes of the NBC soap opera Santa Barbara from 1984 to 1985.

Ann E. Todd (Ann Basart)

Actress Ann E. Todd (later Ann Basart) starred as Joyce Erwin the 1950s sitcom The Stu Erwin Show. She died on February 7 in California after battling dementia for seven years. She was 88.

She played Joyce Erwin, the daughter of Stu Erwin and June Erwin (June Collyer), in the ABC sitcom The Stu Erwin Show from 1950 to 1954. She was replaced by Merry Anders for the final season.

She appeared as a child actress in almost 40 films between 1939 and 1953. Later in life she became a noted music librarian.

Orson Bean

Actor Orson Bean starred as John Goodman's father in Normal, Ohio and made many sitcom guest appearances. He died on February 7 in Los Angeles after being being struck by a vehicle. Mr. Bean was 91.

Bean starred as Bill Gamble, Butch's (John Goodman) cranky homophobic father, in the short-lived 2000 Fox sitcom Normal, Ohio. The series also starred Greg Pitts, Joely Fisher, Anita Gilette, Julia McIlvaine, Cody Kasch, Mo Gaffney and Charles Rocket.

Some of his sitcom guest appearances included The Phil Silvers Show, Love, American Style, Forever Fernwood/Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (as Reverend Brim), The Love Boat, The Facts of Life, Thanks, Manhattan, AZ, Will & Grace, Becker, Two and a Half Men, How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family, The Guest Book, Teachers, Superstore and Grace and Frankie.

He starred as Loren Bray in the 1993-1998 CBS western drama Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. He appeared in the recurring role of Roy Bender, a steak salesman and Karen McCluskey's (Kathryn Joosten) love interest, in 23 episodes of the ABC mystery comedy-drama Desperate Housewives from 2009 to 2012.

Jane Milmore

Television actress, writer and producer Jane Milmore worked on Newhart, Martin and The Hughleys. She died on February 4 in Los Angeles from pancreatic cancer. Ms. Millmore was 64.

Milmore's sitcom acting credits included Newhart, Anything But Love, Syndey, Martin, Daddy Dearest and The Hughleys.

Her writing credits included Newhart, Syndey, Anything But Love, Nurses, Martin, Daddy Dearest, The Wayans Bros., Bless This House, Suddenly Susan, Yes Dear, The Hughleys and Center of the Universe. She received an Emmy nomination for the 1990 CBS special I Love Lucy the Very First Show.

Some of her producing credits included Nurses, Martin, Daddy Dearest (also co-creator), The Wayans Bros., Bless This House, Yes Dear, The Hughleys and Center of the Universe.

Gene Reynolds

Actor, writer, director and producer Gene Reynolds co-created M*A*S*H with Larry Gelbart and worked as one of the producers for the first five seasons. He was a six time Emmy winner. He died of heart failure on February 3 at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California. Mr. Reynolds was 96.

Reynolds' sitcom acting credits included The People's Choice, I Love Lucy, Hennesey and Captain Nice.

His sitcom writing credits included Room 222, Karen, and M*A*S*H. He directed episodes of Hennesey, The Jim Backus Show, Leave it to Beaver, The Andy Griffith Show, Father of the Bride, The Farmer's Daughter, My Three Sons, The Donna Reed Show, Wendy and Me, Gidget, The Munsters, F Troop, Hogan's Heroes, The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, Room 222, Karen, M*A*S*H, The Duck Factory and Monty.

Some of his producing credits included The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, Room 222, Anna and the King, M*A*S*H, Lou Grant and Blossom.

He was interviewed for The Interviews: An Oral History of Television on August 22, 2000.

Lila Garrett

Television writer Lila Garrett worked on Bewitched and Baby I'm Back. She died on February 1 in Tarzana, California. Ms. Garrett was 94.

Garrett's sitcom writing credits included My Favorite Martian, My Mother the Car, The Lucy Show, The Addams Family, Petticoat Junction, Hank, Get Smart, Occasional Wife, The Second Hundred Years, The Courtship of Eddie's Father, Love, American Style, Bewitched, All in the Family, Barney Miller, Baby I'm Back (also the creator) and The Nanny.

She directed episodes of Archie Bunker's Place, Baby Makes Five and Spencer.

Fred Silverman

Television executive and producer Fred Silverman worked at the big three networks for ABC, CBS and NBC. He died from cancer on January 30 at his home in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood of Los Angeles. Mr. Silverman was 82.

He was the Vice President, Programs, heading the entire program department at CBS beginning in 1970. He orchestrated the "rural purge" of 1971, which eventually eliminated many popular country-oriented shows, such as Green Acres, Mayberry R.F.D., Hee Haw and The Beverly Hillbillies from the CBS schedule. He brought in series such as All in the Family, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and M*A*S*H. Those series led to spin-offs such as Maude, Good Times, The Jeffersons and Rhoda.

Silverman was named president of ABC Entertainment in 1975. He helped Happy Days to the top of the ratings and generated a hit spin-off from that show, Laverne & Shirley. He greenlit other sitcoms such as Three's Company and The Love Boat.

He left to become President and CEO of NBC in 1978. He developed successful sitcoms such as Diff'rent Strokes, The Facts of Life and Gimme a Break!.

He was interviewed for The Interviews: An Oral History of Television on March 16, 2001 and May 29, 2001.

Marj Dusay

Actress Marj Dusay appeared in the recurring role of Monica Warner in The Facts of Life. She died on January 28. Ms. Dusay was 83.

She played Monica Warner, Blair Warner's (Lisa Whelchel) mother, in eight episodes of The Facts of Life from 1981 to 1987. Blair's mother was played by Pam Huntington in the "Like Mother, Like Daughter" episode during the first season.

Some of her other sitcom guest appearances included Occasional Wife, Get Smart, The Second Hundred Years, Hogan's Heroes, Family Affair, The Odd Couple, Love, American Style, Phyllis, Square Pegs, Perfect Strangers, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and The New WKRP in Cincinnati.

She was especially known for her role as Alexandra Spaulding on Guiding Light, a role she played on and off, from 1993 through the show's 2009 cancellation. Her other soap opera credits included Capitol, Santa Barbara, Days of Our Lives and All My Children.

Jack Burns

Actor and screenwriter Jack Burns appeared as Warren Ferguson in The Andy Griffith Show and starred in Getting Together. He died on January 27 in Los Angeles, California from respiratory failure. Mr. Burns was 86.

Burns appeared as Warren Ferguson, a dedicated but inept deputy sheriff, in 11 episodes of the first half of the 1965-1966 season of The Andy Griffith Show. His character was brought in to replace the Don Knotts' Barney Fife character after Knotts left the series.

He starred as Officer Rudy Colcheck in the 1971-1972 ABC sitcom Getting Together. The series also starred Bobby Sherman, Wes Stern, Susan Neher and Pat Carroll.

He provided the voice of Ralph Kane for the 1972-1974 syndicated animated sitcom Wait Till Your Father Gets Home. The cast also included Tom Bosley, Joan Gerber, Kristina Holland, David Hayward and Jackie Haley. He was the announcer and sometimes performer for the ABC sketch comedy series Fridays from 1980 to 1982.

Some of this other sitcom guest appearances included Occasional Wife, The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, Happy Days, The Partridge Family, Love, American Style, Brothers (1985) and The Pitts.

His writing credits included The Kraft Music Hall, Hee Haw, We've Got Each Other, The Muppet Show and It's Garry Shandling's Show. He also co-wrote the 1979 film The Muppet Movie.

Marsha Kramer

Actress Marsha Kramer had a recurring role in Modern Family. She died on January 23 in Los Angeles. Ms. Kramer was 74.

She appeared as Margaret, an assistant to Jay Pritchett (Ed O'Neill), in 14 episodes of Modern Family between 2013 and 2020. Some of her other sitcom guest appearances included The Bill Cosby Show, The Bob Newhart Show, Newhart, Cheers, Love & War, Frasier, Titus, Malcolm in the Middle and Dr. Ken.

Robert Harper

Actor Robert Harper starred as Sy "Bubba" Weisburger in Frank's Place. He died from cancer on January 23 in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Mr. Harper was 68.

Harper starred as Sy "Bubba" Weisburger, a friendly lawyer and a regular at Chez Louisiane, in the 1987-1988 CBS comedy-drama Frank's Place. The critically acclaimed series also starred Tim Reid, Daphne Maxwell-Reid, Francesca P. Roberts, Frances E. Williams, Virginia Capers, Tony Burton, Charles Lampkin, Lincoln Kilpatrick, William Thomas Jr. and Don Yesso.

Some of his sitcom guest appearances included Newhart, Murphy Brown, Roseanne, Room for Two, Love & War and Bless This House.

He starred as Judge Irwin Hayes in the 2001-2002 ABC legal drama Philly. Some of his drama guest appearances included Remington Steele, Matlock, Jake and the Fatman, Wiseguy, The Commish, Murder, She Wrote, L.A. Law, NYPD Blue, Any Day Now, Law & Order, Gilmore Girls and Commander in Chief.

Harper was perhaps most well known for his role as Sharkey in 1984 film Once Upon a Time in America. Some of his other film credits included Creepshow, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Twins, Final Analysis, Gunmen, The Wrong Man, Deconstructing Harry, Molly and The Insider.

William Bogert

Actor William Bogert appeared as Brandon Brindle in Small Wonder. He died on January 12 in New York City, New York. Mr. Bogert was 83.

Bogert starred as Mr. Joseph X. Callahan in the short-lived 1979 CBS sitcom Miss Winslow and Son. The series also starred Darleen Carr, Roscoe Lee Browne, Elliot Reid, Sarah Marshall, David Finger, Michael Finger, Ellen Sherman and Joe Rassulo.

He had a semi-regular role as Brandon Brindle, the father of Harriet Brindle (Emily Schulman) and Ted's (Dick Christie) overbearing boss at United Robotronics, in the syndicated sitcom Small Wonder from 1985 to 1989. Edie McClurg played his wife, Bonnie Brindle. Alice Ghostley played Ida Mae Brindle, his outspoken, know-it-all sister. The series also starred Marla Pennington, Jerry Supiran, and Tiffany Brissette.

Some of his sitcom guest appearances included The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Barney Miller, One Day at a Time, Taxi, The Jeffersons, The Facts of Life, M*A*S*H, House Calls, Madame's Place, Square Pegs, Benson, The Wonder Years, Amen, Webster, Mr. Belvedere, Empty Nest, 3rd Rock from the Sun, Hope & Faith and Difficult People.

He played Mr. Lightman, the father of David Lightman (Matthew Broderick), in the 1983 film WarGames.

We thank them all for the laughs and entertainment they brought us. They will be greatly missed.


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Monday, May 17

The Neighborhood - "Welcome to the Surprise" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Calvin receives an unconventional birthday gift involving his father, Dave suggests they spend the day celebrating in a way that honors the late Butler patriarch. Also, an unexpected development changes the Johnsons’ lives forever.

Bob Hearts Abishola - "God Accepts Venmo" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
While comparing their busy schedules, Bob and Abishola realize the perfect date for their wedding is in just three weeks and enlist their family and friends to help plan their big day.

Breeders - "No Power Part II" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
On the day of Leah and Alex's wedding, Paul and Ally find they have only a few hours to deal with a family crisis, leading Paul to make the hardest decision of his life.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of May 17)

Monday, May 17

  • Patton Oswalt (A.P. Bio/The Goldbergs/The King of Queens) - Watch Patton on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Timothy Olyphant (Santa Clarita Diet) - Timothy appears on Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Billy Crystal (The Comedians/Soap) - Billy is a guest on Watch What Happens: Live at 11pm on Bravo.
  • Jerry O'Connell (We Are Men/Carpoolers/My Secret Identity) - Jerry guest co-hosts The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Denise Richards (Blue Mountain State) - Denise will be on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Scott Foley (The Goodwin Games/A.U.S.A./Scrubs) - Scott appears on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Nick Jonas (Jonas) - Nick is a guest on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Drew Barrymore (Santa Clarita Diet) - Drew guest hosts the 8am hour of CBS This Morning.
  • Rob Corddry (The Unicorn/Ballers/The Winner) - Rob talks about Top Gear America on Reality Check at 4:30pm.
  • Christopher Meloni (Surviving Jack/The Fanelli Boys) and Dylan McDermott (No Activity/L.A. to Vegas) - Christopher and Dylan talk about Law & Order: Organized Crime on Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • Regina Hall (Black Monday/Grandfathered/Second Generation Wayans) - Regina talks about season three of Black Monday on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (January-May)

Corporate - Season 2 Fam - The Complete Series Betty White's Pet Set - The Complete Series Happy Together - The Complete Series Til Death - The Complete Series

01/22 - Corporate - Season 2
01/22 - Corporate - Season 3
02/02 - Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In - The Complete Series (2021 Retail Release)
02/16 - Fam - The Complete Series
02/23 - Betty White's Pet Set - The Complete Series
03/02 - Blue Mountain State - The Complete Series
03/02 - Happy Together - The Complete Series
03/02 - Rick and Morty - The Complete Seasons 1-4 (DVD) (Blu-ray)
04/20 - 'Til Death - The Complete Series
05/11 - Dead to Me - Season Two

More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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