JoBeth Williams

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

(1948-12-06) December 6, 1948 (age 75)
Alma materPembroke College in Brown University
Years active1974–present
(m. 1982)

Margaret JoBeth Williams (born December 6, 1948) is an American actress. She rose to prominence appearing in such films as Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), 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 (1994). 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).

Her directorial debut with the 1994 short film On Hope earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Live Action Short Film. In 2009, she began serving as president of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation; she is President Emeritus of the foundation.

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. Williams grew up in the South Park neighborhood of Houston, and attended Jones High School, from which she graduated in 1966.


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 JoBeth. She joined the Jabberwocky cast in season two, replacing the original hostess, Joanne Sopko. 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.

Motion pictures

Williams is perhaps most recognized for her roles in Stir Crazy (1980), with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, The Dogs of War (1980) with Christopher Walken and Tom Berenger, and Poltergeist (1982), as suburban housewife Diane Freeling, a character she reprised in a sequel, Poltergeist II: The Other Side, 1986). A year later, she was part of the ensemble comedy-drama The Big Chill (1983). Her starring role in the film American Dreamer (1984), opposite Tom Conti, earned her the 1985 Best Actress Award from the Kansas City Film Critics Circle.[citation needed] 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 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 & 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.

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 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.

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, whose daughter was also played by Benz. 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: Will and Nick; and she has a step-daughter, Sarah, from Pasquin's previous marriage.



Year Title Role
1979 Kramer vs. Kramer Phyllis Bernard
1980 Stir Crazy Meredith
The Dogs of War Jessie Shannon
1982 Poltergeist Diane Freeling
Endangered Species Harriet Purdue
1983 The Big Chill Karen Bowens
1984 Teachers Lisa Hammond
American Dreamer Cathy Palmer / Rebecca Ryan
1986 Desert Bloom Lily Chismore
Poltergeist II: The Other Side Diane Freeling
1988 Memories of Me Lisa
1989 Welcome Home Sarah
1991 Switch Margo Brofman
Dutch Natalie Standish
1992 Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot Lt. Gwen Harper
Me Myself & I Diane
1994 Wyatt Earp Bessie Earp
1997 Jungle 2 Jungle Dr. Patricia Cromwell
Just Write Sidney Stone
Little City Anne
When Danger Follows You Home Anne Werden
2002 The Rose Technique Dr. Lillian Rose
2005 Fever Pitch Maureen Meeks
Crazylove Mrs. Mayer
2007 In the Land of Women Agnes Webb
2009 Timer Marion Depaul
2011 The Big Year Edith Preissler
2016 Within Rosemary Fletcher
2017 Barracuda Patricia
What the Night Can Do Bettye Sue Dryer
2018 Alex & the List Mrs. Stern
2019 Sgt. Will Gardner Sherry
TBA Not Without Hope TBA


Year Title Role Notes
1974 Great Performances Constance Wilde Episode: "Feasting with Panthers"
1974 Jabberwocky JoBeth
1976 Somerset Carrie Wheeler 2 episodes
1977–1981 Guiding Light Brandy Schlooe Recurring role
1978 The World Beyond Marian Faber Television film
1980 Fun and Games Laura Weston Television film
1980 The White Shadow Paula Harris Episode: "Reunion"
1981 The Big Black Pill Tiffany Farrenpour Television film
1983 Adam Reve Walsh Television film
1983 The Day After Nancy Bauer Television film
1985 Kids Don't Tell Claudia Ryan Television film
1986 Adam: His Song Continues Reve Walsh Television film
1987 Murder Ordained Lorna Anderson Television film
1989 My Name Is Bill W. Lois 'Lo' Wilson Television film
1990 Child in the Night Dr. Hollis Television film
1990 Timeless Tales from Hallmark Bettina Episode: "The Elves and the Shoemaker"
1991 Victim of Love Tess Palmer Television film
1991 The Legend of Prince Valiant Queen Ilene Voice, episode: "The Secret of Perilous Garde"
1992 Fish Police Angel Jones Voice, main role
1992 Jonathan: The Boy Nobody Wanted Ginny Moore Television film
1993 Jonny's Golden Quest Jade Kenyon Voice, television film
1993 Sex, Love and Cold Hard Cash Sarah Gallagher Television film
1993 Chantilly Lace Natalie Television film
1993 Final Appeal Christine Biondi Television film
1993 Gloria Vane Gloria Vane Television film
1993–94 Frasier Danielle, Madeline Marshall 2 episodes
1994 Batman: The Animated Series May, June Voice, episode: "Sideshow"
1994 Parallel Lives Winnie Winslow Television film
1994 Voices from Within Nancy Parkhurst Television film
1995 A Season of Hope Elizabeth Hackett Television film
1995–1996 The Client Reggie Love Main role
1996 Ruby Jean and Joe Rose Television film
1996 Breaking Through Pam Willis Television film
1998 From the Earth to the Moon Marge Slayton Episode: "The Original Wives Club"
1998 A Chance of Snow Madeline 'Maddie' Parker-Hill Television film
1998 Stories from My Childhood Queen Hildegard Voice, episode: "The Wild Swans"
1999 Payne Constance 'Connie' Payne Main role
1999 Justice Jane Newhart Television film
1999 It Came from the Sky Alice Bridges Television film
2000 Trapped in a Purple Haze Sophie Hanson Television film
2000 The Norm Show Claire Stackhouse Episode: "Norm vs. Youth"
2001 The Ponder Heart Edna Earle Ponder Television film
2001 The Guardian Sarah Episode: "Heart"
2002 E! True Hollywood Story Herself Episode: "Curse of Poltergeist"
2002 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Mrs. Rawley Episode: "Waste"
2002 I Love the '80s Herself Documentary miniseries
2003 Judging Amy Gemma Lawnsdale Episode: "Judging Eric"
2003 Skin Dr. Sara Rose Episode: "Endorsement"
2003 Miss Match Lianne Fox 3 episodes
2004 Strong Medicine Margie Episode: "Fractured"
2005 14 Hours Jeanette Makins Television film
2005 Into the Fire June Sickles Television film
2005 Las Vegas Liz Episode: "The Real McCoy"
2006 24 Miriam Henderson Episode: "Day 5: 5:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m."
2006 Numb3rs Margaret Eppes Episode: "Hot Shot"
2006 Criminal Minds Prof. Ursula Kent Episode: "Empty Planet"
2006 Worst Week of My Life Libby Episode: "Pilot"
2006 Twenty Good Years Kate Episode: "Remember the Alimony"
2006 Stroller Wars Roberta Television film
2006–2007 The Nine Sheryl Kates 2 episodes
2007 Sybil Hattie Dorsett Television film
2007 Dexter Gail Brandon Guest role (season 2)
2008 Life in General Mary Kate Walton Webseries
2009 Uncorked Sophia Browning Television film
2009–2011 Private Practice Bizzy Forbes
2011 NCIS Leona Phelps Episode: "One Last Score"
2011 Law & Order: LA Mrs. Walker Episode: "Benedict Canyon"
2011 Love's Christmas Journey Mrs. Beatrice Thompson Television film
2011–2015 Hart of Dixie Candice Hart Guest role (seasons 1–4)
2012 Scandal Sandra Harding Episode: "Hell Hath No Fury"
2013 Mistresses Janet Episode: "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"
2013–2015 Perception Margaret Pierce 2 episodes
2014 In My Dreams Charlotte Smith Television film
2014 Extant Leigh Kern 2 episodes
2014–2015 Marry Me Myrna Schuffman Recurring role
2015 Your Family or Mine Ricky Weston Main role
2016 Childrens Hospital Linda Episode: "DOY"
2016 Home Helen Television film
2016 Rizzoli & Isles Tilly Dunn Episode: "For Richer or Poorer"
2018 The Good Doctor Ruth Episode: "She"
2018 Living Biblically Diana Episode: "Let Us Pray"
2023 A Million Little Things Lana Strobe Episode: "Dear Diary"

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