Williams at the SAG Foundation
brunch in January 2007
|Born||Margaret JoBeth Williams
December 6, 1948
Houston, Texas, U.S.A.
|Occupation||Actress, TV director|
|Spouse(s)||John Pasquin (1982–present; 2 children)|
Margaret JoBeth Williams (born December 6, 1948) is an American film, television and stage actress. Her directorial debut with the 1994 short film On Hope, earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Live Action Short Film. Since 2009, she has served as 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 (1993–94). 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).
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.
She graduated from Pembroke College in Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1970, 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.
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. 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.
She is perhaps most recognized for her roles in Stir Crazy (1980), with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor, and Poltergeist (1982), as suburban housewife Diane Freeling (she reprised her character in a sequel, Poltergeist II: The Other Side, 1986). 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's character. In 1995, she was nominated for an Academy Award for her 1994 live-action short On Hope, it was her directorial debut and starred Annette O'Toole. 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.
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.
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.
In 2014, she appeared in the CBS sci-fi drama Extant, as Leigh Kern (season 1, episode 7).
|1977–1978||Guiding Light||Brandy Shelloe|
|1979||Kramer vs. Kramer||Phyllis Bernard|
|Dogs of War, TheThe Dogs of War||Jessie Shannon|
|1982||Poltergeist||Diane Freeling||Nominated — Saturn Award for Best Actress|
|Endangered Species||Harriet Purdue|
|1983||Big Chill, TheThe Big Chill||Karen|
|Adam||Revé Walsh||Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie|
|Day After, TheThe Day After||Nurse Nancy Bauer|
|American Dreamer||Cathy Palmer/Rebecca Ryan|
|1985||Kids Don't Tell||Claudia Ryan|
|1986||Desert Bloom||Lily Chismore|
|Poltergeist II: The Other Side||Diane Freeling|
|Adam: His Song Continues||Revé Walsh|
|1987||Murder Ordained||Lorna Andersen|
|1988||Memories of Me||Lisa the Christian|
|Baby M||Mary Beth Whitehead||Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
|1989||My Name Is Bill W.||Lois Bernham Wilson|
|1990||Welcome Home||Dee Mobley|
|Child in the Night||Dr. Hollis|
|Victim of Love||Dr. Tess Palmer||aka Raw Heat|
|1992||Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot||Lt. Gwen Harper|
|Me, Myself & I||Crazy Diane/Sane Diane|
|Jonathan: The Boy Nobody Wanted||Ginny Moore|
|Fish Police||Angel||6 episodes, voice|
|1993–1994||Frasier||Madeline Marshall||3 episodes
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
|1994||Wyatt Earp||Bessie Earp|
|On Hope||Nominated — Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film|
|Parallel Lives||Winnie Winslow|
|1995||Hallmark Hall of Fame: A Season of Hope||Elizabeth Hackett||aka The Lemon Grove|
|1995–1996||The Client||Regina 'Reggie' Love||21 episodes|
|1996||Ruby Jean & Joe||Rose|
|1997||When Danger Follows You Home||Anne Werden|
|Jungle 2 Jungle||Dr. Patricia Cromwell|
|Just Write||Sidney Stone|
|1998||Chance of Snow, AA Chance of Snow||Maddie Parker|
|From the Earth to the Moon||Marge Slayton||Episode 11: The Original Wives Club|
|1999||It Came From the Sky||Alice Bridges|
|Payne||Constance 'Connie' Payne||9 episodes|
|2000||Trapped in a Purple Haze||Sophie Hanson|
|2001||Masterpiece Theatre: The Ponder Heart||Edna Earle Ponder|
|2002||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Mrs. Rawley||1 episode|
|2005||Into the Fire||June Sickles|
|14 Hours||Jeanette Makins|
|Fever Pitch||Maureen Meeks|
|2006||24||Miriam Henderson||1 episode|
|2006–2007||The Nine||Sheryl Kates||2 episodes|
|Dexter||Gail Brandon||4 episodes|
|Criminal Minds||Ursula Kent||1 episode|
|2009–2011||Private Practice||Bizzy Montgomery||6 episodes|
|2011||NCIS||Leona Phelps||1 episode|
|Love's Christmas Journey||Charlyn|
|Big Year, TheThe Big Year||Edith Preissler|
|2012||Scandal||Sandra Harding||1 episode|
|2011–2012||Hart of Dixie||Candice Hart||3 episodes|
|2014||In My Dreams||Charlotte||TV film|
|2014–2015||Marry Me||Myrna||Recurring role|
|2015||Your Family or Mine||Ricky||Series regular|
- JoBeth Williams Biography (1948?-)
- Shilcutt, Katharine. "Still Standing." Houston Press. Wednesday January 12, 2011. 1. Retrieved on January 13, 2011.
- "Distinguished HISD Alumni," Houston Independent School District'. Retrieved on January 13, 2011.
- JoBeth Williams- Biography, Yahoo! Movies
- "JoBeth Williams' 'THE CLIENT' begins encore run on TNT". The Houston Chronicle. March 14, 1999.
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