Joanna Kerns

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Joanna Kerns
Joanna Crussie DeVarona

(1953-02-12) February 12, 1953 (age 65)
OccupationActress, director
Years active1976–present
Richard Kerns
(m. 1976;div. 1985)

Marc Appleton(m. 1994)

Joanna Kerns (born February 12, 1953) is an American actress and director best known for her role as Maggie Seaver on the family situation comedy Growing Pains from 1985 to 1992.


Early life

Kerns was born Joanne Crussie DeVarona in San Francisco, California. [1] Her father, David Thomas DeVarona, was an insurance agent, and her mother, Martha Louise (née Smith), was a clothing store manager. [2] Kerns is the third child of four. She has an older brother and a younger brother, as well as an older sister. Her older sister, Donna de Varona, is an Olympic gold medal swimmer, winning two gold medals in the 1964 Olympics. Their aunt is silent film actress Miriam Cooper.

Growing up, Kerns was constantly in competition with Donna. Kerns stated in an interview, "Donna was the golden girl. There was pressure inside me to duplicate Donna's success". Joanna tried swimming, but realized it was not her sport, so she switched to gymnastics. She competed in the Olympic trials in 1968 and ranked 14th out of 28. [3]


Early roles

Kerns got her start in show business as a dancer before turning to acting. She attended UCLA and majored in dance. There she saw an advertisement for a Gene Kelly production called Clown Around and immediately jumped at the chance to audition. She joked in an interview that she sent the casting crew a high school senior picture of herself and all of her grades, hoping to get the part. To take the part, however, she would have to drop out of college and move to New York,so she did. After Clown Around, Joanna also got parts in the New York Shakespeare Festival's production of Two Gentlemen of Verona and Ulysses in Nighttown, where she was directed by Burgess Meredith. [3]

Meredith and Kerns had a wonderful working relationship. Later in life, Kerns recalled that Meredith was a great influence on her, saying, "Burgess was the one person who really influenced my acting career". Meredith also introduced Kerns to Peggy Feury, under whom Kerns studied acting. In 1972, she moved back to California and landed a job as a backup dancer at Disneyland, and started auditioning for TV commercials and steady acting jobs.

On May 4, 1977, she made an appearance on Charlie's Angels as Natalie, a worker at a massage parlor, in the episode "The Blue Angels".

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Kerns started making a name for herself in guest spots on many televisions shows that included: Emergency! , CHiPs , The A-Team , Starsky & Hutch , Street Hawk , Laverne and Shirley , Three's Company , Hill Street Blues , The Love Boat , Hunter , Quincy, M.E. , Magnum, P.I. , and V , as well as many commercials. During an interview, Kerns said, "I kind of was always looking for the next thing; I auditioned for anything, hoping to get a big break" (Lifetime's Intimate Portrait ). Then, Kerns got her first steady acting job in 1983, starring as Pat Devon in a new CBS series called The Four Seasons , which lasted only one season. The sitcom was about three couples who all lived under the same roof in California. Although the show was not well received by television critics, her part proved to producers that she was capable of acting as a leading lady.

Growing Pains

Soon after the cancellation of The Four Seasons, Kerns auditioned for a new series in late 1984, called Growing Pains . She auditioned with Alan Thicke, who was just coming off the failure of his TV talk show Thicke of the Night . Kerns joked in many interviews that Alan and she had immediate chemistry, especially when she kissed him on his nose by accident during their audition together. Kerns and Thicke's chemistry won them both the parts, and the two became great friends off the show. (They both had many things in common, including both being newly divorced and both being single parents.)

During the success of Growing Pains, Kerns began to star in television movies, where she played controversial parts very different from the beloved all-American mom, Maggie Seaver. One such performance that shocked audiences was her 1992 movie, The Nightman , in which Kerns played a highly sexual business woman who was a motel owner. Her many TV movies include: Those She Left Behind , Blind Faith , The Big One: The Great Los Angeles Earthquake , Shameful Secrets , and No One Could Protect Her .

After Growing Pains roles and directing career

After Growing Pains ended, Kerns turned to directing. She directed one episode of Growing Pains while starring on the show and got hooked. In an interview, Kerns stated, "Directing is where I've always wanted to go". She loved directing and decided to change the focus of her career from acting to directing, while continuing to make rare appearances in front of the camera when the right parts come along. She has also directed episodes of television shows including Dawson's Creek , Titans , Scrubs , Private Practice , Psych , Grey's Anatomy , Privileged , ER , Ghost Whisperer, Army Wives , Pretty Little Liars , Switched at Birth , The Goldbergs , This Is Us , and Fuller House . [4] Kerns even got a break when she was able to direct Annie Potts in an original made-for-television movie for Lifetime TV entitled: Defending Our Kids: The Julie Posey Story. She has since made a number of shorts, [5] and directed the sixth episode of Pitch, the new sports drama on Fox.

Kerns has also made notable appearances in feature films, including A*P*E , Girl, Interrupted , and the 2007 comedy Knocked Up .

She has also co-founded the Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards given to women in acting.

Kerns was a member of the Motion Picture and Television Fund Board of Trustees from 2004 through 2008.[ citation needed ]

Personal life

In 1974, Kerns met a commercial producer, Richard Kerns, on the set of a commercial, and they married 2 years later. Their marriage lasted 9 years and produced a daughter, Ashley Cooper. Immediately after the dissolution of her marriage, Kerns won the role of Maggie Seaver on Growing Pains. She is now married to prominent Los Angeles architect Marc Appleton.


Kerns, a registered Democrat, supported John Kerry in the 2004 United States Presidential Election and Hillary Clinton in the 2008 United States Presidential Election. [6]


1976 A.P.E. Marilyn Bakeras Joanna DeVarona
The Million Dollar Rip-Off JessieTV movie
1977 Charlie's Angels Natalie SandsEpisode: "The Blue Angels"
Quincy LilyEpisode: "Touch of Death"
1978 Coma Diane
1980 Three's Company Bobby TrillingEpisode: "The Love Lesson"
1980Marriage is Alive and WellMegTV movie
1982 A Wedding on Walton's Mountain Doris MarshallTV movie
Mother's Day on Waltons Mountain Doris MarshallTV movie
Magnum, P.I. Mary KanferEpisode: "The Last Page"
1983 V Marjorie DonovanTV miniseries
The A-Team Trish BrennerEpisode: A Nice Place to Visit
Three's Company CherylEpisode: Jack Be Quick
1984 The Return of Marcus Welby, M.D. Pamela SalettaTV movie
1985–92 Growing Pains Maggie SeaverTV series
1985 A Bunny's Tale AndreaTV movie
Stormin' Home Lana SingerTV movie
The Rape of Richard Beck Anita ParrishTV movie
1987 Mistress StephanieTV movie
Cross My Heart Nancy
1989Street JusticeCatherine WatsonTV movie
Those She Left Behind Diane PappasTV movie
The Preppie Murder Linda FairsteinTV movie
1990 Blind Faith Maria MarshallTV movie
The Great Los Angeles Earthquake Dr. Clare WinslowTV movie
1991An American SummerAunt Sunny
Deadly Intentions... Again? SallyTV movie
Captive Kathy PlunkTV movie
1992The NightmanEveTV movie
Desperate Choices: To Save My ChildMel RobbinsTV movie
1993Not in My FamilyVeronica RicciTV movie
The Man with Three Wives KatyTV movie
Shameful SecretsMaryanne Walker-TateTV movie
1994 No Dessert, Dad, till You Mow the Lawn Carol Cochran
Mortal FearDr. Jennifer KesslerTV movie
1995See Jane RunJane RavensonTV movie
Whose Daughter Is She? Laura EagertonTV movie
1996No One Could Protect HerJessica RaynerTV movie
Terror in the Family Cynthia MartinTV movie
1997Mother Knows BestCeleste CooperTV movie
Sisters and Other StrangersGail Connelly MetzgerTV movie
1998 Emma's Wish EmmaTV movie
1999At the Mercy of a StrangerElizabeth CooperTV movie
Girl, Interrupted Annette Kaysen
2000 The Growing Pains Movie Maggie Malone SeaverTV movie
2001 All Over the Guy Lydia
Someone to LoveMatt's motherTV movie
2004 Growing Pains: Return of the Seavers Maggie SeaverTV movie
2007 Knocked Up Mrs. Scott
MaNiCDr. KernsShort film
2009 Eastwick EdieEpisode: "Tears and Mind Erasers"
2010Love & Other Unstable States of MatterJoanShort film
2017Danny Brown: Ain't It FunnyMom


  1. "Joanna Kerns Biography - Yahoo! Movies".
  2. "Joanna Kerns Biography (1953-)".
  3. 1 2 Wallace, David. "Kerns Turns". Philip Morris Magazine. Spring 1991.
  4. "Fuller House (TV Series 2016– )" via
  5. Growing Pains Stars: Where Are They Now?, December 18, 2008
  6. "Joanna Kerns".