• Margaret 'JoBeth' Williams is an American actress and producer, active in the entertainment industry since the 70s
• She is well-known for her roles in "Poltergeist" (1982), "The Big Chill" (1983), and "Kramer vs. Kramer" (1979).
• She has also starred in a range of TV shows, such as "Dexter", "The Client", and "Guiding Light"
• She has been nominated for 3 Primetime Emmy Awards and won a Saturn Award for Best Actress
• She is married to film and TV director John Pasquin and has an estimated net worth of $50 million
Who is JoBeth Williams
Margaret ‘JoBeth’ Williams was born on 6 December 1948, in Houston, Texas, USA. She’s an American actress and producer, widely known for her work in film, television and theater, active in the entertainment industry since the 1970s, and has appeared in many well-known and widely acclaimed productions.
She is perhaps best known for her role as Diane Freeling in the 1982 film “Poltergeist”, which was a critical and commercial success and has since become a horror genre classic. Other notable film roles include her performances in “The Big Chill” (1983) and “Kramer vs. Kramer” (1979). On television, JoBeth has had a long and varied career, appearing in a range of popular shows such as “Dexter”, “The Client”, and “Guiding Light”. Since 2009, she’s been serving as the President Emeritus of the Screen Actors Guild Foundation.
Early life and education
JoBeth was born to Fredric Roger Williams and Frances Faye, growing up in the South Park neighborhood of Houston. Her father was an opera singer and businessman, while her mother was a dietitian. Being a performer himself, JoBeth’s father encouraged her to pursue her interest in acting and theatre during her teenage years.
JoBeth studied at Jones High School, matriculating in 1966. During her time there, she was a member of the drama club and made her stage debut in a local musical production at the age of 18. However, following her matriculation, JoBeth put acting aside for a while and enrolled at Brown University, majoring in Psychology and English. She graduated in 1970 and then became a member of the Trinity Repertory Company acting troupe, based in Providence, Rhode Island, staying with them for more than two years before making a transition to TV and film acting.
Roles in TV shows
JoBeth’s entry into television was through the Boston-based children’s series “Jabberwocky”, which premiered in 1972 and ran until 1978, joining the cast in season two, taking over the hosting duties from Joanne Sopko. Her character in the series was named JoBeth, the name she would later adopt as her stage name.
In 1976, JoBeth made an appearance in the soap opera “Somerset”, then in the following year, she joined the cast of another daytime drama, “Guiding Light”, known for being one of the longest-running series in the history of television, playing the character of Brandy Schlooe until 1981.
Through the rest of the 1980s, JoBeth took a break from TV, and appeared exclusively in movies. In the early 1990s, she had voiceover roles in animated series such as “The Legend of Prince Valiant”, “Fish Police”, and “Batman: The Animated Series”. In 1993 and 1994, she guest-starred in three episodes of the popular NBC sitcom “Frasier”, which starred Kelsey Grammer in the titular role.
Jobeth Williams and Heather O'Rourke in a scene from Poltergeist II: The Other Side.
From 1995 through 1996, JoBeth starred as Reggie Love in the legal drama “The Client”. Based on the best-selling novel by John Grisham, the show follows the adventures of a young Southern lawyer who takes on the case of an 11-year-old caught in the middle of a dangerous legal and political situation. Despite its relatively short run, “The Client” achieved critical acclaim and is remembered as a well-written and suspenseful legal drama with a strong ensemble cast.
JoBeth’s next recurring TV series role was in the American remake of the popular British comedy “Fawlty Towers, the short-lived sitcom “Payne” (1999),”, which also starred John Larroquette and Julie Benz. In the following years, she made appearances in a number of popular shows, which included “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”, “Skin”, and “24”.
In 2007, JoBeth played Gail Brandon in the second season of the popular crime drama “Dexter”, created by James Manos Jr., which explored the life of a forensic blood spatter analyst named Dexter Morgan played by Michael C. Hall, who moonlights as a serial killer. Her next TV series role was in the medical drama “Private Practice”, a spin-off from “Grey’s Anatomy”, playing Bizzy Forbes, the mother of the main character Addison. JoBeth appeared in total of six episodes of the series from 2009 through 2011.
In the following years, she guest-starred in a number of other TV series, including “NCIS”, “Hart of Dixie”, and “Perception”. In 2015, she played the supporting character Ricky, in the short-lived sitcom “Your Family or Mine”.
More recently, in 2020, we saw her in an episode of the award-winning History Channel sci-fi drama “Project Blue Book”, which starred Aidan Gillen, Michael Malarkey and Laura Mennell.
Roles in movies
JoBeth made her feature film debut in 1979, in the Oscar-winning drama “Kramer vs. Kramer”, written and directed by Robert Benton. The film stars Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep, and follows the story of a couple’s divorce and the custody battle over their young son. JoBeth played Phillys Bernard, the girlfriend of Hoffman’s character. “Kramer vs. Kramer” was both a critical and commercial success, winning five Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
A publicity photograph for Brian Gibson's POLTERGEIST II: THE OTHER SIDE (1986), featuring actors JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, Heather O'Rourke, Oliver Robins, and Zelda Rubinstein. The film was shot in California and Arizona in the spring of 1985. #Horror #HorrorMovies pic.twitter.com/rTeWV42lj8
— Michael Doyle (@DoyleofDarkness) March 13, 2022
In 1980, JoBeth appeared in two more critically acclaimed movies, the crime comedy “Stir Crazy”, and the wartime drama “The Dogs of War”. Two years later, she starred in “Poltergeist”, a supernatural horror film directed by Tobe Hooper. co-written and produced by Steven Spielberg. The film tells the story of a family whose home is haunted by malicious spirits that communicate with them through their television set, and eventually kidnap their youngest daughter. In the movie, JoBeth played the role of Diane Freeling, the mother of the family who tries to save her daughter with the help of parapsychologists. She reprised her role in the 1986 sequel of the film, “Poltergeist II: The Other Side”, and the franchise spawned one more sequel in 1988 along with a 2015 reboot, but JoBeth didn’t make a return to star in either of these films.
Another major film role for JoBeth was in the ensemble comedy-drama “The Big Chill” (1983), directed by Lawrence Kasdan, and which also starred Jeff Goldblum, Tom Berenger and Glenn Close among others. It follows a group of seven college friends who reunite after the death of one of their own, and spend a weekend together at a remote lake house reflecting on their lives. The film has since been recognized as a classic of the genre and has inspired many imitators and homages.
In the following years, JoBeth co-starred in movies such as “American Dreamer” (1984), “Desert Bloom” (1986), and “Welcome Home” (1989). In 1992, she playing the role of a schizophrenic woman, starring opposite George Segal in the dark romantic comedy “Me, Myself & I”. She continued to appear in more comedic movies throughout the 1990s, with perhaps one of her most notable being in “Little City” (1997), written and directed by Roberto Benabib. In the same year, she also starred as hysterical publishing editor Sidney, in the comedy “Just Write”.
In 2005, she appeared alongside Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore in the sports comedy “Fever Pitch”, loosely based on the autobiographical essay of the same name written by the British author Nick Hornby. She followed up with roles in other comedies, such as “Crazylove” (2005), “In the Land of Women” (2007), and “Timer” (2009). In 2011, she starred alongside Jack Black, Steve Martin and Rashida Jones in the quirky comedy “The Big Year”, centered on a group of bird watchers.
In more recent years, JoBeth has been appearing in dramatic roles in films such as “Within” (2016), “Barracuda” (2017), and “What the Night Can Do” (2020). As of early 2023, she’s set to star in the thriller “Cash for Gold”, as well as in the drama “Chantilly Bridge”.
Aside from being an actress, JoBeth is also an accomplished director and producer. In 1991, she produced the TV movie “Bump in the Night”. Three years later, she made her directing debut with the short drama movie “On Hope”, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Live-Action Short Film.
JoBeth has directed two more movies since then, “Frankie & Hazel” (2000), and “Winnona’s Web” (2001), as well as an episode of the horror mystery series “Night Visions” in 2001.
Furthermore, since 2007, JoBeth has been a producer for TV specials for the Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Awards and nominations
JoBeth was nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards for her performances in “Adam”, “Baby M”, and “Frasier”, in 1984, 1988 and 1995 respectively. Her performance in “Baby M” also earned her a first Golden Globe nomination in 1989. In 1983, she won the Saturn Award for Best Actress for “Poltergeist”.
In 2002, she was rewarded with the Award of Excellence at the Big Bear Lake Film Festival, for her outstanding work in the film and TV industry. In the same year, she was given the Career Achievement Award at Houston WorldFest.
JoBeth is married to the film and TV director John Pasquin, with whom she worked on the set of the 1997 comedy film “Jungle 2 Jungle”. The two had exchanged vows in a private ceremony on 14 March 1982, and have two sons, Nick and William, while John also has a daughter, Sarah, from a previous marriage.
Both JoBeth and John like to keep a low profile. However, in 2020, they drew the media’s attention after the newspaper “Los Angeles Times” reported that the two had sold their mansion in Bel-Air, California for close to $20 million.
As of February 2023, JoBeth’s net worth has been estimated at over $50 million.