JoBeth Williams

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JoBeth Williams
Williams at the SAG Foundation brunch, January 7, 2007
BornMargaret JoBeth Williams
(1948-12-06) December 6, 1948 (age 65)
Houston, Texas, U.S.A.
OccupationActress, TV director
Years active1974-present
Spouse(s)John Pasquin
(m.1982-present; 2 children)
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JoBeth Williams
Williams at the SAG Foundation brunch, January 7, 2007
BornMargaret JoBeth Williams
(1948-12-06) December 6, 1948 (age 65)
Houston, Texas, U.S.A.
OccupationActress, TV director
Years active1974-present
Spouse(s)John Pasquin
(m.1982-present; 2 children)

Margaret JoBeth Williams (born December 6, 1948) is an American film, television and stage actress. She is the current president of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation.

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 (1993-1994). She made her directorial debut with the 1994 short film On Hope, for which she received an Academy Award nomination for Best Live Action Short Film. She also starred in the TV series The Client (1995-1996) and had recurring roles in the TV series' Dexter (2007) and Private Practice (2009-2011).

Early life[edit]

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.[3]

She attended Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, 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.


Early career[edit]

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]

Motion pictures[edit]

She is perhaps most recognized for her roles in Stir Crazy (1980) with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor and Steven Spielberg's Poltergeist (1982) as suburban housewife, Diane Freeling (she reprised her character in the 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.

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 reteamed with 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 & I.

She also co-starred with Ed O'Neill in director John Hughes's comedy Dutch (1991) and Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot (1992) as the police detective love interest of Sylvester Stallone. In 1997 she played a domineering lesbian in the independent comedy, Little City, with Jon Bon Jovi, and a 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[edit]

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]

In 1995 she was nominated for an Academy Award for her 1994 live-action short "On Hope," which starred Annette O'Toole. It was her debut as a director. She 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 ten 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.

Personal life[edit]

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


1977-1981Guiding LightBrandy Schlooe
1979Kramer vs. KramerPhyllis Bernard
1980Stir CrazyMeredith
Dogs of War, TheThe Dogs of WarJessie Shannon
1982Endangered SpeciesHarriet Purdue
PoltergeistDiane FreelingNominated — Saturn Award for Best Actress
1983AdamRevé WalshNominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
Big Chill, TheThe Big ChillKaren
Day After, TheThe Day AfterNurse Nancy Bauer
1984TeachersLisa Hammond
American DreamerCathy Palmer/Rebecca Ryan
1985Kids Don't TellClaudia Ryan
1986Desert BloomLois Chismore
Poltergeist II: The Other SideDiane Freeling
Adam: His Song ContinuesRevé Walsh
1987Murder OrdainedLorna Andersen
1988Memories of MeLisa the Christian
Baby MMary Beth WhiteheadNominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
1989My Name Is Bill W.Lois Bernham Wilson
1990Welcome HomeDee Mobley
Child in the NightDr. Hollis
1991SwitchMargo Brofman
Victim of LoveDr. Tess Palmeraka Raw Heat
1992Stop! Or My Mom Will ShootLt. Gwen Harper
Me, Myself & ICrazy Diane/Sane Diane
Jonathan: The Boy Nobody WantedGinny Moore
Fish PoliceAngel6 episodes, voice
1993Chantilly LaceNatalie
1993-1994FrasierMadeline Marshall3 episodes
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
1994Wyatt EarpBessie Earp
On HopeNominated — Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film
Parallel LivesWinnie Winslow
1995Hallmark Hall of Fame: A Season of HopeElizabeth Hackettaka The Lemon Grove
1995-1996The ClientRegina 'Reggie' Love21 episodes
1996Ruby Jean & JoeRose
1997When Danger Follows You HomeAnne Werden
Little CityAnne
Jungle 2 JungleDr. Patricia Cromwell
Just WriteSidney Stone
1998Chance of Snow, AA Chance of SnowMaddie Parker
From the Earth to the MoonMarge SlaytonEpisode 11: The Original Wives Club
1999It Came From the SkyAlice Bridges
PayneConstance 'Connie' Payne9 episodes
2000Trapped in a Purple HazeSophie Hanson
2001Masterpiece Theatre: The Ponder HeartEdna Earle Ponder
2002Law & Order: Special Victims UnitMrs. Rawley1 episode
2005Into the FireJune Sickles
14 HoursJeanette Makins
Fever PitchMaureen Meeks
200624Miriam Henderson1 episode
2006-2007The NineSheryl Kates2 episodes
DexterGail Brandon4 episodes
UncorkedSophia Browning
Criminal MindsUrsula Kent1 episode
2009-2011Private PracticeBizzy Montgomery6 episodes
2011NCISLeona Phelps1 episode
Love's Christmas JourneyCharlyn
Big Year, TheThe Big YearEdith Preissler
2012ScandalSandra Harding1 episode
2011-2012Hart of DixieCandice Hart3 episodes
2013MistressesJanet1 episode
2014In My DreamsCharlotteTV film
2014-presentMarry MeMyrnaRecurring role (Upcoming NBC sitcom)


  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," Houston Independent School District'. Retrieved on January 13, 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d JoBeth Williams- Biography, Yahoo! Movies
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ "JoBeth Williams' 'THE CLIENT' begins encore run on TNT". The Houston Chronicle. March 14, 1999. 

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