JoBeth Williams

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JoBeth Williams
Williams at the SAG Foundation
brunch in January 2007
Margaret JoBeth Williams

(1948-12-06) December 6, 1948 (age 70)
OccupationActress, television director
Years active1974–present
John Pasquin (m. 1982)

Margaret JoBeth Williams (born December 6, 1948) is an American actress and television director. Her directorial debut with the 1994 short film On Hope earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Live Action Short Film. Since 2009, she has served as president of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation.

Academy Awards American awards given annually for excellence in cinematic achievements

The Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, are a set of awards for artistic and technical merit in the film industry. Given annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), the awards are an international recognition of excellence in cinematic achievements as assessed by the Academy's voting membership. The various category winners are awarded a copy of a golden statuette, officially called the "Academy Award of Merit", although more commonly referred to by its nickname "Oscar".

Live Action Short Film is a category at the Academy Awards, existing under various names as a single category since 1957.


Williams rose to prominence appearing in such films as Stir Crazy (1980), Poltergeist (1982), The Big Chill (1983), The Day After (1983), Teachers (1984), and Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986). A three-time Emmy Award nominee, she was nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for her work in the TV movie Adam (1983) and the TV miniseries Baby M (1988). Her third nomination was for her guest role in the sitcom Frasier (1993–94). She also starred in the TV series The Client (1995–96) and had recurring roles in the TV series Dexter (2007) and Private Practice (2009–11).

<i>Stir Crazy</i> (film) 1980 American comedy film directed by Sidney Poitier

Stir Crazy is a 1980 American comedy film directed by Sidney Poitier, produced by Hannah Weinstein and written by Bruce Jay Friedman. The film stars Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor as unemployed friends who are given 125-year prison sentences after being framed for a bank robbery. While in prison they befriend other prison inmates. The film reunited Wilder and Pryor who had appeared previously in the 1976 comedy thriller film Silver Streak. The film was released in the United States on December 12, 1980.

<i>Poltergeist</i> (1982 film) 1982 American supernatural horror film directed by Tobe Hooper

Poltergeist is a 1982 American supernatural horror film directed by Tobe Hooper and starring JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, Heather O'Rourke, and Beatrice Straight. Steven Spielberg wrote and produced the film, but a clause in his contract prevented him from directing another movie while he made E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Therefore, Hooper was selected to direct based upon his work on The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. First conceived as a dark horror sequel to Close Encounters of the Third Kind entitled Night Skies, when Spielberg approached Hooper to direct, Hooper was less keen on the sci-fi elements and suggested the idea of a ghost story. Spielberg and Hooper would then go on to collaborate on the first treatment for the film. It is the first and most successful entry in the Poltergeist film series. Set in a California suburb, the plot focuses on a family whose home is invaded by malevolent ghosts that abduct the family's younger daughter.

<i>The Big Chill</i> (film) 1983 film by Lawrence Kasdan

The Big Chill is a 1983 American comedy-drama film directed by Lawrence Kasdan, starring Tom Berenger, Glenn Close, Jeff Goldblum, William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly, and JoBeth Williams. The plot focuses on a group of baby boomers who attended the University of Michigan, reuniting after 15 years when their friend Alex commits suicide. Kevin Costner was cast as Alex, but all scenes showing his face were cut. It was filmed in Beaufort, South Carolina.

Early life

Williams was born in Houston, Texas, and is the daughter of Frances Faye (née Adams), a dietitian, and Fredric Roger Williams, an opera singer and manager of a wire and cable company. [1] Williams grew up in the South Park neighborhood of Houston, [2] and attended Jones High School, from which she graduated in 1966. [3]

Houston City in Texas, United States

Houston is the most populous city in the U.S. state of Texas and the fourth most populous city in the United States, with a census-estimated population of 2.312 million in 2017. It is the most populous city in the Southern United States and on the Gulf Coast of the United States. Located in Southeast Texas near Galveston Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, it is the seat of Harris County and the principal city of the Greater Houston metropolitan area, which is the fifth most populous metropolitan statistical area (MSA) in the United States and the second most populous in Texas after the Dallas-Fort Worth MSA. With a total area of 627 square miles (1,620 km2), Houston is the eighth most expansive city in the United States. It is the largest city in the United States by total area, whose government is similarly not consolidated with that of a county or borough. Though primarily in Harris County, small portions of the city extend into Fort Bend and Montgomery counties.

A dietitian is an expert in dietetics; that is, human nutrition and the regulation of diet. A dietitian alters their patient's nutrition based upon their medical condition and individual needs. Dietitians are regulated healthcare professionals licensed to assess, diagnose, and treat nutritional problems.

South Park, Houston human settlement in Houston, Texas, United States of America

South Park is a broad post-World War II development in the south-central area of Houston, Texas, a few miles south of MacGregor Park and directly south of the 610 Loop. According to the 2000 Census, the community has a population of 22,282. 81% of the South Park population is predominately African American, compared to 25% for the city as a whole. Houston's Martin Luther King Boulevard runs through the area. Reflecting its postwar origins, many streets in South Park are named after World War II battle sites and persons. In the 1980s and 1990s crime became a key issue for South Park. Katharine Shilcutt of the Houston Press said "South Park is an overgrown garden these days, its soil only able to be tilled by the most determined or the most desperate. It shows no sign that it will grow again any time in the near future."

She graduated from Pembroke College in Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1970, intending to become a child psychologist. Instead, she turned to theater, training with Jim Barnhill and John Emigh, as well as at the Trinity Repertory Company, taking voice lessons to neutralize her Texan accent. Then she moved to New York City and began to appear in television series in the mid-1970s.[ citation needed ]

Pembroke College in Brown University

Pembroke College in Brown University was the coordinate women's college for Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. It was founded in 1891 and merged into Brown in 1971.

Providence, Rhode Island Capital of Rhode Island

Providence is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Rhode Island and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. It was founded in 1636 by Roger Williams, a Reformed Baptist theologian and religious exile from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He named the area in honor of "God's merciful Providence" which he believed was responsible for revealing such a haven for him and his followers. The city is situated at the mouth of the Providence River at the head of Narragansett Bay.

John Emigh is Professor Emeritus from the Departments of Theatre, Speech and Dance and of English at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. Emigh taught at Brown from 1967 to 2009. Since his retirement, he has mainly been teaching and directing in the Brown/Trinity Rep MFA program.


Early career

Williams's first television role was on the Boston-produced first-run syndicated children's television series Jabberwocky , which debuted in 1972. Her character was named, appropriately enough, JoBeth. She joined the Jabberwocky cast in season two, replacing the original hostess, Joanne Sopko. [4] The series ran until 1978. She was a regular on two soap operas, playing Carrie Wheeler on Somerset and Brandy Shelloe on Guiding Light . Williams's feature-film debut came in 1979's Kramer vs. Kramer as a girlfriend of Dustin Hoffman's character, memorably quizzed by his son after being discovered walking nude to the bathroom. [4]

<i>Jabberwocky</i> (TV series) American childrens television series 1972–1974

Jabberwocky was a daily children's TV show designed for 5-10 year-olds that eventually went into national syndication. The original series ran Monday through Friday for over two seasons, from 1972 to 1974, on WCVB in Boston; the nationally syndicated version ran weekly and was rerun in the wee hours of Saturday mornings by many TV stations up until the 1990s.

<i>Somerset</i> (TV series) American television soap opera

Somerset is an American television soap opera which ran on NBC from March 30, 1970, until December 31, 1976. The show was a spin-off of another NBC serial, Another World.

<i>Guiding Light</i> television series

Guiding Light is an American television soap opera. It is listed in Guinness World Records as the longest-running drama in television in American history, broadcast on CBS for 57 years from June 30, 1952, until September 18, 2009, overlapping a 19-year broadcast on radio from 1937 to 1956. With an uninterrupted 72 years of radio and television runs, Guiding Light is the longest running soap opera, ahead of General Hospital, and the fifth-longest running program in all of broadcast history; only the American country music radio program Grand Ole Opry, the BBC religious program The Daily Service (1928), the CBS religious program Music and the Spoken Word (1929), and the Norwegian children's radio program Lørdagsbarnetimen (1924-2010) have been on the air longer.

Motion pictures

Williams is perhaps most recognized for her roles in Stir Crazy (1980), with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, and Poltergeist (1982), as suburban housewife Diane Freeling, a character she reprised in a sequel, Poltergeist II: The Other Side , 1986). [4] A year later, she was part of the ensemble comedy-drama The Big Chill (1983). This led to her only major starring role in a studio feature film, American Dreamer (1984), opposite Tom Conti. High-profile co-starring roles in Teachers (1984) with Nick Nolte, Desert Bloom (1986) with Jon Voight, Memories of Me with Billy Crystal (1988), and Blake Edwards's Switch (1991) with Ellen Barkin followed.

<i>Poltergeist II: The Other Side</i> 1986 film by Brian Gibson

Poltergeist II: The Other Side is a 1986 American supernatural horror film and the second entry in the Poltergeist film series. A sequel to Poltergeist, it features the return of the original family, who are once again confronted by a spirit trying to harm their daughter, Carol Anne. It received mixed reviews from critics and did not gross as much at the box office as its predecessor, although it was still financially successful. It ended up making over $40 million against a $19 million (estimated) production budget and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. The film was also nominated for a Razzie Award for Zelda Rubinstein as Worst Supporting Actress. It was followed in 1988 by Poltergeist III. A quote for its film trailer, in which Carol Anne says "They're baaa-aaack," has been referenced endlessly in popular culture ever since.

<i>American Dreamer</i> (film) 1984 film by Rick Rosenthal

American Dreamer is a 1984 American romantic comedy-thriller film starring JoBeth Williams and Tom Conti. It was directed by Rick Rosenthal from a script by Ann Biderman, David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf.

Tom Conti British actor

Thomas Antonio Conti is a Scottish actor, theatre director and novelist. He won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play in 1979 for his performance in Whose Life Is It Anyway? He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for the 1983 film, Reuben, Reuben.

She is also known for starring opposite Kris Kristofferson in Oscar-winning director Franklin J. Schaffner's final film, the Vietnam POW drama Welcome Home (1989). In 1992, she re-teamed with The Big Chill director Lawrence Kasdan to portray Bessie Earp in Wyatt Earp with Kevin Costner, and starred as Crazy Diane/Sane Diane, a schizophrenic shut-in, in the dark independent comedy, Me, Myself and I .

She also co-starred with Ed O'Neill in the John Hughes-written comedy Dutch (1991), and starred in Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992) as the police detective/love interest of Sylvester Stallone's character. In 1995, she was nominated for an Academy Award for her 1994 live-action short On Hope, starring Annette O'Toole; the film was Williams's directorial debut. In 1997, she played a domineering lesbian in the independent comedy Little City with Jon Bon Jovi, and an hysterical publishing editor in Just Write with Jeremy Piven. In 2005, she appeared in the Drew Barrymore-Jimmy Fallon baseball comedy Fever Pitch .

In October 2011, she appeared with Steve Martin, Owen Wilson, Rashida Jones, and Jack Black in the bird-watching comedy The Big Year for Twentieth Century Fox.

Television work

Williams has also gained critical acclaim for a number of performances in notable television movies, including the nuclear holocaust film The Day After (1983), Murder Ordained (1987), as Lois Burnham Wilson in My Name is Bill W. (1989), and the critically acclaimed Masterpiece Theatre presentation of The Ponder Heart (2003) for director Martha Coolidge. [5]

She earned Emmy nominations for starring as real-life characters Revé Walsh (the wife of John Walsh) in the film Adam (1983) and Mary Beth Whitehead in Baby M (1988). In 1993, she anchored the improvised Showtime dramedy Chantilly Lace with Helen Slater and Martha Plimpton.

She also had an Emmy-nominated guest-starring role on Frasier [4] and played Reggie Love in the 1995–1996 CBS series The Client (adapted from the 1994 film of the same title), which lasted only 21 episodes, but gained a wider audience when it was rebroadcast in reruns on the TNT Network. [6]

Williams appeared on a 2006 episode of 24 as Christopher Henderson (Peter Weller)'s wife, Miriam, who literally takes a (nonfatal) bullet for her husband.

She appeared in one episode of the 1998 TV miniseries From the Earth to the Moon as Marge Slayton, the wife of Deke Slayton. The episode is part 11 of the series and titled "The Original Wives Club".

In 1999, Williams teamed with John Larroquette and Julie Benz for the CBS network situation comedy Payne . The show, which was the American television version of the hit British comedy Fawlty Towers , lasted just 10 episodes.

In 2007, she joined Dexter for a four-episode arc as the serial killer's future mother-in-law. Also, she appeared in a memorable 2009 Criminal Minds listed as Special Guest Star in the episode "Empty Planet" as Professor Ursula Kent, who helps the BAU with a bomb threat in Seattle.

She has played the recurring role of Bizzy Forbes-Montgomery, mother of Kate Walsh's Addison, on ABC's Private Practice since 2009.

In 2014, she appeared in the CBS science-fiction drama Extant , as Leigh Kern (season one, episode seven).

Personal life

She is married to TV and film director John Pasquin, with whom she worked on Jungle 2 Jungle ; they have two sons.



1979 Kramer vs. Kramer Phyllis Bernard
1980 Stir Crazy Meredith
1980 The Dogs of War Jessie Shannon
1982 Poltergeist Diane Freeling
1982 Endangered Species Harriet Purdue
1983 The Big Chill Karen Bowens
1984 Teachers Lisa Hammond
1984 American Dreamer Cathy Palmer / Rebecca Ryan
1986 Desert Bloom Lily Chismore
1986 Poltergeist II: The Other Side Diane Freeling
1988 Memories of Me Lisa
1989 Welcome Home Sarah
1991 Switch Margo Brofman
1991 Dutch Natalie Standish
1992 Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot Lt. Gwen Harper
1992 Me, Myself and I Diane
1994 Wyatt Earp Bessie Earp
1997 Jungle 2 Jungle Dr. Patricia Cromwell
1997 Just Write Sidney Stone
1997 Little City Anne
1997When Danger Follows You HomeAnne Werden
2002 The Rose Technique Dr. Lillian Rose
2005 Fever Pitch Maureen Meeks
2005CrazyloveMrs. Mayer
2007 In the Land of Women Agnes Webb
2009 Timer Marion Depaul
2011 The Big Year Edith Preissler
2016WithinRosemary Fletcher
2017 Barracuda Patricia
2017What the Night Can DoBettye Sue Dryer
2018 Alex & the List Mrs. Stern
20??Will GardnerSherryPost-production


1974 Great Performances Constance Wilde"Feasting with Panthers"
1974 Jabberwocky JoBethTV series
1976 Somerset Carrie Wheeler"Another World: Somerset", "31 December 1976"
1977–1981 Guiding Light Brandy SchlooeRecurring role
1978 The World Beyond Marian FaberTV film
1980Fun and GamesLaura WestonTV film
1980 The White Shadow Paula Harris"Reunion: Parts 1 & 2"
1981The Big Black PillTiffany FarrenpourTV film
1983 Adam Reve WalshTV film
1983 The Day After Nancy BauerTV film
1985 Kids Don't Tell Claudia RyanTV film
1986Adam: His Song ContinuesReve WalshTV film
1987 Murder Ordained Lorna AndersonTV film
1989 My Name Is Bill W. Lois 'Lo' Wilson TV film
1990 Child in the Night Dr. HollisTV film
1990 Timeless Tales from Hallmark Bettina (voice)"The Elves and the Shoemaker"
1991 Victim of Love Tess PalmerTV film
1991 The Legend of Prince Valiant Queen Ilene (voice)"The Secret of Perilous Garde"
1992 Fish Police Angel Jones (voice)Main role
1992 Jonathan: The Boy Nobody Wanted Ginny MooreTV film
1993 Jonny's Golden Quest Jade Kenyon (voice)TV film
1993Sex, Love and Cold Hard CashSarah GallagherTV film
1993 Chantilly Lace NatalieTV film
1993Final AppealChristine BiondiTV film
1993Gloria VaneGloria VaneTV film
1993 Frasier Danielle (voice)"Beloved Infidel"
1994 Frasier Madeline Marshall"Adventures in Paradise: Parts 1 & 2"
1994 Batman: The Animated Series May / June (voice)"Sideshow"
1994 Parallel Lives Winnie WinslowTV film
1994Voices from WithinNancy ParkhurstTV film
1995A Season of HopeElizabeth HackettTV film
1995–96 The Client Reggie LoveMain role
1996Ruby Jean and JoeRoseTV film
1996Breaking ThroughPam WillisTV film
1998 From the Earth to the Moon Marge Slayton"The Original Wives Club"
1998 A Chance of Snow Madeline 'Maddie' Parker-HillTV film
1998Stories from My ChildhoodQueen Hildegard (voice)"The Wild Swans"
1999 Payne Constance 'Connie' PayneMain role
1999JusticeJane NewhartTV film
1999 It Came from the Sky Alice BridgesTV film
2000 Trapped in a Purple Haze Sophie HansonTV film
2000 The Norm Show Claire Stackhouse"Norm vs. Youth: Part 2"
2001 The Ponder Heart Edna Earle PonderTV film
2001 The Guardian Sarah"Heart"
2002 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Mrs. Rawley"Waste"
2003 Judging Amy Gemma Lawnsdale"Judging Eric"
2003 Skin Dr. Sara Rose"Endorsement"
2003 Miss Match Lianne Fox"Pilot", "Jive Turkey", "Most Hopeless Romantics"
2004 Strong Medicine Margie"Fractured"
2005 14 Hours Jeanette MakinsTV film
2005 Into the Fire June SicklesTV film
2005 Las Vegas Liz"The Real McCoy"
2006 24 Miriam Henderson"Day 5: 5:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m."
2006 Numb3rs Margaret Eppes"Hot Shot"
2006 Criminal Minds Prof. Ursula Kent"Empty Planet"
2006Worst Week of My LifeLibby"Pilot"
2006 Twenty Good Years Kate"Remember the Alimony"
2006Stroller WarsRobertaTV film
2006–07 The Nine Sheryl Kates"Outsiders", "Confessions"
2007 Sybil Hattie DorsettTV film
2007 Dexter Gail BrandonGuest role (season 2)
2008 Life in General Mary Kate WaltonWebseries
2009 Uncorked Sophia BrowningTV film
2009–2011 Private Practice Bizzy ForbesGuest roles (seasons 3–4)
2011 NCIS Leona Phelps"One Last Score"
2011 Law & Order: LA Mrs. Walker"Benedict Canyon"
2011 Love's Christmas Journey Mrs. Beatrice ThompsonTV film
2011–2015 Hart of Dixie Candice HartGuest role (seasons 1–4)
2012 Scandal Sandra Harding"Hell Hath No Fury"
2013 Mistresses Janet"Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"
2013–2015 Perception Margaret Pierce"Neuropositive", "Brainstorm"
2014 In My Dreams Charlotte SmithTV film
2014 Extant Leigh Kern"More in Heaven and Earth", "Incursion"
2014–15 Marry Me Myrna SchuffmanRecurring role
2015 Your Family or Mine Ricky WestonMain role
2016 Childrens Hospital Linda"DOY"
2016HomeHelenTV film
2016 Rizzoli & Isles Tilly Dunn"For Richer or Poorer"
2018 The Good Doctor Ruth"She"
2018 Living Biblically Diana"Let Us Pray"

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  1. JoBeth Williams Biography (1948?-)
  2. Shilcutt, Katharine. "Still Standing." Houston Press . Wednesday January 12, 2011. 1. Retrieved on January 13, 2011.
  3. "Distinguished HISD Alumni Archived 2012-05-15 at the Wayback Machine ," Houston Independent School District'. Retrieved on January 13, 2011.
  4. 1 2 3 4 JoBeth Williams- Biography, Yahoo! Movies
  5. "The Ponder Heart". PBS Masterpiece. Archived from the original on November 8, 2001. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  6. "JoBeth Williams' 'THE CLIENT' begins encore run on TNT". The Houston Chronicle. March 14, 1999.