Good Times star Ja'Net DuBois, who died last month unexpectedly, was a colorful person with some holes in her personal story — but who would have predicted her death certificate would claim her birth father was big-band legend Cab Calloway?
According to her family, DuBois' mother was Lillian Gouedy, as previously known, but her father wasn't the late Gordon DuBois, who Ja'Net's daughter claims was Gouedy's husband who was "instrumental" in raising Ja'Net.
The Estate of Cab Calloway is swatting down the story, referring to her death certificate — the first place she is ever referred to as "Jeanette T. Calloway-DuBois" — as "this single document that has numerous mistakes and no verification."
Is the Calloway story a lie?
Ja'Net's former Good Times co-star Jimmie Walker once spoke at length about her propensity for self-promotion, saying:
She was always tryin'. She was always pushin' ... Ja'Net is the kinda girl who would go, "You know, I was in Golden Boy with Sammy Davis Jr. and I danced. You know, I could dance in the show, too, I sing. I don't know if you know I sing the Jeffersons theme song, but I did that also. I design hats, too, you know, and I bring tons of hats I bring on the show, and then I have scarves that I do also and I write songs. And, you know, I have an album out — it's not really with a label anymore — but I do a lot of that. And I write, I write poetry, I have a whole, big poetry book ...
Somewhat related to that perspective, DuBois' public age at the time of her death was given as just 74, in spite of having a career that stretched back to the very early '60s; various early-years documents have since surfaced, showing she was not 74 but 87.
Even the new death certificate admits DuBois was 87, though for an official document, listing her race as (sic) "MALATO" jumps out as a red flag, as does the insistence that she never married, even though it had been previously understood that she'd wed Sajit Gupta at 18, and the name "Gupta" appears in some of her other personal documents.
Lending credence to the idea that she had a secret father — or to the idea that she and her family are fabulists — there had been other murky qualities when it came to DuBois's childhood, including confusion as to whether she were born in Philadelphia or Brooklyn.
We won't know for sure the truth unless DuBois's family produces compelling evidence.