Jobeth Williams' career is a testament to the fact that an actor can, indeed, not only make a living but important contributions across theatrical genres.
Ms. Williams was born in Houston, Texas, the only child of an opera singer father and salt-of-the-earth mother. Her passion for acting was ignited in high school and, with her father's vocal talent in her genes, she joined Actor's Equity at age eighteen in order to participate in a Houston musical company. She attended college at Brown University in Providence, RI, as an English major with aspirations of becoming a child psychologist, having been discouraged by academic counselors regarding making a living as an actor. Despite that advice, JoBeth launched her career on the East Coast repertory theater circuit upon her graduation from Brown in 1970.
1980's A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking was JoBeth Williams' Broadway bow, and she gained a TV following as a regular on the daytime serials The Guiding Light and Somerset. Her big break, however, came in 1979 in the popular, timely, and Oscar-winning Kramer vs. Kramer in which she had a brief but very memorable cameo as Dustin Hoffman's "overnight" friend who darts to the bathroom nude only to be caught by his young son in the hallway.
Her next feature film appearance, in 1980's The Dogs of War, was significantly edited in the American version, leaving Ms. William's character, Jessie, virtually on the cutting room floor; fortunately, the British version of the film was not so edited and up-and-coming director, Steven Spielberg, saw the film in London – immediately deciding upon JoBeth Williams as the definitive Diane Freeling in his under-development film, Poltergeist -- arguably the most well known of Jobeth Williams' roles to date (and her first leading role).
A year later, her star was still ascending when she joined the cast of The Big Chill (again hand-picked by the writer/director… this time Lawrence Kasdan) as Karen, sixties activist-cum-housewife who has an affair with former boyfriend Sam (Tom Berenger). Her feature film credits continued to pile up, including 1984's Teachers with Nick Nolte and, more recently, her strong and sympathetic performance as Bessie Earp in Kevin Costener's Wyatt Earp.
Unlike the few actors who share a certain measure of her extensive popularly and critically acclaimed film and stage credits, television has actually provided some of Ms. Williams' finest roles, including the real-life mother of a missing child in Adam, and her role as a nurse in the post-apocalyptic The Day After (both in 1983), as well as Adam: His Song Continues (1986), and real-life surrogate mother Mary Beth Whitehead in Baby M (1988).
The love of her craft, however, has also opened up other worlds for JoBeth Williams. She was nominated for an Academy Award for her directorial debut of Showtime's On Hope (1994) and continues to build her directing credits. Meanwhile, JoBeth also maintains a busy theatre schedule, appearing regularly in Los Angeles stage productions, including radio theatre through LA Theatre Works' critically acclaimed "The Play's the Thing" series.
JoBeth has been married to director, John Pasquin since 1982. They have two children.