"Good Times" star Ja'Net DuBois died unexpectedly on February 17, and her passing has led to some unusual confusion about the facts of her life.
First, her age was reported as having been 74, less than two years older than Jimmie Walker, who played a teen on "Good Times" while DuBois played Willona, a high school classmate of his character's mother. That disparity was cleared up when documents surfaced confirming she was actually a very well-preserved, youthful 87 — and her death certificate, obtained by "Extra", backs that up.
Still, the most surprising piece of information on DuBois' death certificate isn't her real age, but her purported real father — according to her family, DuBois was the secret daughter of zoot-suited bandleader Cab Calloway!
The death certificate states that DuBois — who is, for the first time on any document, referred to as "Jeannette T. Calloway-DuBois" — was the daughter of Lillian Gouedy and Calloway, not Gordon DuBois, long thought to be her dad. In response to questions about the document, DuBois' daughter told TMZ that Gordon DuBois was "instrumental" in raising Ja'Net.
The death certificate also raises questions by stating her years in show business as "50" (when her career was at least 10 years longer than that); listing her daughter's maiden name as "Grupta" when it should be "Gupta"; asserting that DuBois had never married (she had long been thought to have married and divorced a man named Sajit Gupta as a young woman); and, most bizarrely, listing her race as "MALATO," a misspelling of the very dated term "mulatto," or biracial.
Reached for comment, the estate of Cab Calloway, who died at 86 in 1994, took note of the document's discrepancies, telling TMZ, "While we have a great appreciation for Ja'Net DuBois' long and successful career, the Calloway Estate has nothing to add to this single document that has numerous mistakes and no verification."
DuBois had appeared healthy until dying in her sleep, having recently appeared at an autograph convention with her "Good Times" castmates and on the set of "Live in Front of a Studio Audience." She died of cardiac arrest, with some contributing factors listed as peripheral vascular disease and chronic kidney disease, which she had been dealing with privately for years. Hypertension was also another condition listed as contributing to her death.
Her death certificate noted that DuBois was cremated and that some of her ashes were scattered at sea. The rest of her ashes are being kept at her daughter's home in Castaic, where she died.
Janet Jackson took to social media to acknowledge DuBois' passing, writing, "I am so very saddened to hear my longtime friend Ja'Net DuBois has passed away. I saw first hand how she broke stereotypes and changed the landscape for Black women in entertainment. I'm grateful in recent years I had a chance to see her and create more lasting memories. I pray for comfort for all her family and friends. Thank you Ja'Net, I'll miss you."
Aside from “Good Times,” it is DuBois' voice that is heard over the opening credits of "The Jeffersons" (1975-1985); she co-wrote and performed the song "Movin' On Up," one of the most memorable themes in TV history. She also worked extensively on TV and had been a stage actress since the early '60s.