Joanna Kerns

Last updated
Joanna Kerns
Joanna Crussie DeVarona

(1953-02-12) February 12, 1953 (age 66)
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.

A sitcom, clipping for situational comedy, is a genre of comedy centered on a fixed set of characters who carry over from episode to episode. Sitcoms can be contrasted with sketch comedy, where a troupe may use new characters in each sketch, and stand-up comedy, where a comedian tells jokes and stories to an audience. Sitcoms originated in radio, but today are found mostly on television as one of its dominant narrative forms. This form can also include mockumentaries.

<i>Growing Pains</i> American television sitcom series

Growing Pains is an American television sitcom that aired on ABC from September 24, 1985, to April 25, 1992. The show ran for seven seasons, consisting of 166 episodes.


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.

San Francisco Consolidated city-county in California, US

San Francisco, officially the City and County of San Francisco, is a city in, and the cultural, commercial, and financial center of, Northern California. San Francisco is the 13th-most populous city in the United States, and the fourth-most populous in California, with 883,305 residents as of 2018. It covers an area of about 46.89 square miles (121.4 km2), mostly at the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area, making it the second-most densely populated large US city, and the fifth-most densely populated U.S. county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs. San Francisco is also part of the fifth-most populous primary statistical area in the United States, the San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area.

California State of the United States of America

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents, California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and fifth-most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second-most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.

Donna de Varona American swimmer, Olympic gold medalist, former world record-holder, television sportscaster

Donna de Varona Pinto, née Donna Elizabeth de Varona, is an American former competition swimmer, Olympic gold medalist, former world record-holder, and television sportscaster.

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]

Burgess Meredith American film and television actor

Oliver Burgess Meredith was an American actor, director, producer, and writer. Active for more than six decades, Meredith has been called "a virtuosic actor" and "one of the most accomplished actors of the century". A lifetime member of the Actors Studio by invitation, he won several Emmys, was the first male actor to win the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor twice, and was nominated for two Academy Awards.

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.

Peggy Feury American actress

Peggy Feury was an actress on Broadway, in films, and on television. She became a highly regarded acting teacher in New York and then in Los Angeles. Throughout her career, she taught many notable students.

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".

<i>Charlies Angels</i> 1976 American crime drama television series

Charlie's Angels is an American crime drama television series that aired on ABC from September 22, 1976 to June 24, 1981, producing five seasons and 110 episodes. The series was created by Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts and was produced by Aaron Spelling. It follows the crime-fighting adventures of three women working in a private detective agency in Los Angeles, California, and originally starred Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, and Jaclyn Smith in the leading roles and John Forsythe providing the voice of their boss, the unseen Charlie Townsend, who directed the crime-fighting operations of the "Angels" over a speakerphone. There were a few casting changes: after the departure of Fawcett and Jackson came the additions of Cheryl Ladd, Shelley Hack, and Tanya Roberts.

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 ,”Felicity” 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
2019 What/If N/ADirector; 1 episode

Related Research Articles

Alan Thicke Canadian actor

Alan Thicke was a Canadian actor, songwriter, comedian, game and talk show host. He is the father of singer Robin Thicke. In 2013, Thicke was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame. Thicke was best known for playing Dr. Jason Seaver on the 1980s sitcom Growing Pains. Thicke died on December 13, 2016, in the Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, California, U.S.

Ashley Johnson (actress) American actress, voice actress and singer

Ashley Suzanne Johnson is an American actress, voice actress and singer. She is best known for her roles as Chrissy Seaver in Growing Pains, Annie Warbucks in Annie: A Royal Adventure!, Alex Marshall in What Women Want, Gretchen Grundler in Disney's Recess, Terra in Teen Titans, Gwen Tennyson in the Ben 10 franchise, Ellie in The Last Of Us, and Margaret in Much Ado About Nothing. She currently stars in the NBC drama Blindspot as FBI forensic specialist Patterson, and is a cast member of Critical Role.

Tracey Gold is an American actress and former child star best known for playing Carol Seaver on the 1980s sitcom Growing Pains.

Heather Langenkamp actress

Heather Elizabeth Anderson is an American actress, producer, and prosthetic makeup coordinator. She began her career as an extra in the Francis Ford Coppola films The Outsiders (1983) and Rumble Fish (1983) before becoming known for her role as Nancy Thompson in Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) and Chuck Russell's A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987), followed by appearances in two of Craven's cult films: a victim in Shocker (1989) and a fictionalized version of herself in Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994).

JoAnna Garcia actress

JoAnna García Swisher is an American actress. She is known for her roles as Sam in Are You Afraid of the Dark? (1993–96), Vicki Appleby in Freaks and Geeks (1999–2000), and Cheyenne Hart-Montgomery on The WB/CW sitcom Reba (2001–07). She has also gained popularity with her acting roles in Privileged (2008–09), Better with You (2010–11), Animal Practice (2012), Once Upon a Time (2013–18) and The Astronaut Wives Club (2015).

Jeremy James Miller is an American actor. He is known for his portrayal of Ben Seaver on Growing Pains and its two reunion movies. He also voiced Linus van Pelt in Happy New Year, Charlie Brown! along with Chad Allen.

Emma Harrison actress, model and dancer

Emma Harrison is an actress, model and dancer, best known for the role of Joanna Hartman in the Australian soap-opera Neighbours.

<i>Nobodys Watching</i> Unreleased American sitcom

Nobody's Watching is a US television program that was never broadcast. It originated with and was written by the creator of Scrubs, Bill Lawrence, as well as Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan, writers for Scrubs and Family Guy.

The Growing Pains Movie is a 2000 American made-for-television comedy film and is the first of two reunion films based on the 1985–1992 sitcom Growing Pains. It premiered on ABC November 5, 2000 as a two-hour episode of The Wonderful World of Disney anthology series.

Anastasia Griffith British actress

Anastasia Griffith is a British actress known for her roles on the FX legal drama Damages and the NBC medical series Trauma. She has also acted in films and a videogame.

Kirk Cameron American actor

Kirk Thomas Cameron is an American actor. He is known for his role as Mike Seaver on the ABC sitcom Growing Pains (1985–92), a role for which he was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards.

Growing Pains: Return of the Seavers is a 2004 American made-for-television comedy film and is the second reunion film of the modern-day Seaver family from the 1985–1992 sitcom Growing Pains. It was filmed in New Orleans, LA, and originally aired on ABC October 16, 2004.

Made to Suffer 8th episode of the third season of The Walking Dead

"Made to Suffer" is the eighth episode and mid-season finale of the third season of the post-apocalyptic horror television series The Walking Dead. It was directed by Billy Gierhart and written by Robert Kirkman, and aired on AMC in the United States on December 2, 2012. In this episode, Rick, Daryl, Michonne, and Oscar enter Woodbury in search of Glenn and Maggie. Meanwhile, a new group of survivors discover the prison.

Unusually Thicke is a Canadian-American mockumentary television series, which premiered in 2014. Billed as a "reality-sitcom hybrid", the series combines a reality television format with improvisational comedy to present a fictionalized portrayal of the family life of actor Alan Thicke.

"Puzzle with a Piece Missing" is the second episode of the eleventh season of the American television medical drama Grey's Anatomy, and is the 222nd episode overall. It aired on October 2, 2014 on ABC in the United States. The episode was written by William Harper and directed by Rob Corn. On its initial airing it was watched by 9.15 million viewers and was well received amongst critics.

Monica Lacy is an American television and film actress. Lacy is an identical triplet who, along with her sisters Leanna and Joy Creel, started acting in the late 1980s. They appeared together in two television movies aired on The Wonderful World of Disney: Parent Trap III and Parent Trap: Hawaiian Honeymoon.

Maggie Pierce fictional character from the television series Greys Anatomy

Margaret "Maggie" Pierce, M.D. is a fictional character from the American television medical drama Grey's Anatomy, which airs on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) in the United States. The character was created by series producer Shonda Rhimes and is portrayed by actress Kelly McCreary from the tenth season's penultimate episode onwards. It is revealed in the season ten finale, Maggie's biological parents are Richard Webber and Ellis Grey, making her Meredith's half-sister. McCreary was upgraded to a series regular in the eleventh episode of the eleventh season.

"Flowers Grow Out of My Grave" is the sixth episode episode of the fifteenth season of the American medical drama television series Grey's Anatomy, and the 323rd overall episode, which aired on ABC on November 1, 2018. The episode was written by Kiley Donovan and directed by Nicole Rubio. The episode shows the celebration of the Day of the Dead at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital.


  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".