Joanna Kerns is an American actress and director best known for her role as Maggie Seaver on the family situation comedy Growing Pains from 1985 to 1992.
Joanna Crussie DeVarona
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Kerns was born Joanna Crussie DeVarona in San Francisco, California.[better source needed] Her father, David Thomas DeVarona, was an insurance agent, and her mother, Martha Louise (née Smith), was a clothing store manager. Kerns is the third child of four. She has an older brother and a younger brother, as well as an older sister. Her older sister, Donna de Varona, is an Olympic gold medal swimmer, winning two gold medals in the 1964 Olympics. Their aunt was silent film actress Miriam Cooper.
Growing up, Kerns was constantly in competition with Donna. Kerns stated in an interview, "Donna was the golden girl. There was pressure inside me to duplicate Donna's success". Joanna tried swimming, but realized it was not her sport, so she switched to gymnastics. She competed in the Olympic trials in 1968 and ranked 14th out of 28.
Kerns got her start in show business as a dancer before turning to acting. She attended UCLA and majored in dance. There, she saw an advertisement for a Gene Kelly production called Clown Around and immediately jumped at the chance to audition. She joked in an interview that she sent the casting crew a high school senior picture of herself and all of her grades, hoping to get the part. To take the part, however, she would have to drop out of college and move to New York, so she did. After Clown Around, Joanna also got parts in the New York Shakespeare Festival's production of Two Gentlemen of Verona and Ulysses in Nighttown, where she was directed by Burgess Meredith.
Meredith and Kerns had a wonderful working relationship. Later in life, Kerns recalled that Meredith was a great influence on her, saying, "Burgess was the one person who really influenced my acting career". Meredith also introduced Kerns to Peggy Feury, under whom Kerns studied acting. In 1972, she moved back to California and landed a job as a backup dancer at Disneyland, and started auditioning for TV commercials and steady acting jobs.
On May 4, 1977, she made an appearance on Charlie's Angels as Natalie, a worker at a massage parlor in the episode "The Blue Angels".
During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Kerns started making a name for herself in guest spots on many televisions shows that included: Emergency!, CHiPs, The A-Team, Starsky & Hutch, Street Hawk, Laverne and Shirley, Three's Company, Hill Street Blues, The Love Boat, Hunter, Quincy, M.E., Magnum, P.I., and V, as well as many commercials. During an interview, Kerns said, "I kind of was always looking for the next thing; I auditioned for anything, hoping to get a big break" (Lifetime's Intimate Portrait). Then, Kerns got her first steady acting job in 1983, starring as Pat Devon in a new CBS series called The Four Seasons, which lasted only one season. The sitcom, which was based on a 1981 movie of the same name, was about three couples who all lived under the same roof in California. Although the show was not well received by television critics, her part proved to producers that she was capable of acting as a leading lady.
Soon after the cancellation of The Four Seasons, Kerns auditioned for a new series in late 1984, called Growing Pains. She auditioned with Alan Thicke, who was just coming off the failure of his TV talk show Thicke of the Night. Kerns joked in many interviews that Alan and she had immediate chemistry, especially when she kissed him on his nose by accident during their audition together. Kerns and Thicke's chemistry won them both the parts, and the two became great friends off the show.
During the success of Growing Pains, Kerns began to star in television movies, where she played controversial parts very different from the beloved all-American mom, Maggie Seaver. One such performance that shocked audiences was her 1992 movie, The Nightman, in which Kerns played a highly sexual business woman who was a motel owner. Her many TV movies include: Those She Left Behind, Blind Faith, The Big One: The Great Los Angeles Earthquake, Shameful Secrets, and No One Could Protect Her.
After Growing Pains roles and directing careerEdit
After Growing Pains ended, Kerns turned to directing. She directed one episode of Growing Pains while starring on the show and got hooked. In an interview, Kerns stated, "Directing is where I've always wanted to go". She loved directing and decided to change the focus of her career from acting to directing, while continuing to make rare appearances in front of the camera when the right parts come along. She has also directed episodes of television shows including Dawson's Creek, Titans, Scrubs, Private Practice, Psych, Felicity, Grey's Anatomy, Privileged, ER, Ghost Whisperer, Army Wives, Pretty Little Liars, Switched at Birth, The Goldbergs, This Is Us, and Fuller House. Kerns also directed Annie Potts in an original made-for-television movie for Lifetime TV entitled: Defending Our Kids: The Julie Posey Story. She has since made a number of shorts, and directed the sixth episode of Pitch, a sports drama on Fox.
Kerns has also made notable appearances in feature films, including A*P*E, Girl, Interrupted, and the 2007 comedy Knocked Up.
She has also co-founded the Women in Film Crystal + Lucy Awards given to women in acting.
Kerns was a member of the Motion Picture and Television Fund Board of Trustees from 2004 through 2008.
In 1974, Kerns met a commercial producer, Richard Kerns, on the set of a commercial, and they married two years later. Their marriage lasted nine years and the couple had a daughter, Ashley Cooper. In 1994 Kerns married Marc Appleton, a prominent Los Angeles architect. In August 2019, Kerns filed for divorce from Appleton.
Kerns dated comedian and actor Freddie Prinze a short time before he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The two had worked together on the 1976 TV movie, The Million Dollar Rip-Off.
Kerns, a registered Democrat, supported John Kerry in the 2004 United States Presidential Election and Hillary Clinton in the 2016 United States Presidential Election.
|1976||A.P.E.||Marilyn Baker||as Joanna DeVarona|
|Starsky & Hutch||Joy||Episode: "Gillian", as Joanna De Varona|
|The Million Dollar Rip-Off||Jessie||TV film|
|1977||Charlie's Angels||Natalie Sands||Episode: "The Blue Angels"|
|Quincy, M.E.||Lily||Episode: "Touch of Death"|
|Emergency!||Gymnast||Episode: “Firehouse Quintet” (Listed as Joanna DeVarona)|
|1980||Three's Company||Bobby Trilling||Episode: "The Love Lesson"|
|Marriage is Alive and Well||Meg||TV film|
|1982||A Wedding on Walton's Mountain||Doris Marshall||TV film|
|Mother's Day on Waltons Mountain||Doris Marshall||TV film|
|Magnum, P.I.||Mary Kanfer||Episode: "The Last Page"|
|1983||V||Marjorie Donovan||TV miniseries|
|The A-Team||Trish Brenner||Episode: "A Nice Place to Visit"|
|Three's Company||Cheryl||Episode: "Jack Be Quick"|
|Magnum, P.I.||Jenny 'Jen' Hunter||Episode: "Two Birds of a Feather"|
|1984||The Return of Marcus Welby, M.D.||Pamela Saletta||TV film|
|1985–92||Growing Pains||Maggie Seaver||TV series. Main role.|
|1985||A Bunny's Tale||Andrea||TV film|
|Stormin' Home||Lana Singer||TV film|
|The Rape of Richard Beck||Anita Parrish||TV film|
|1987||Cross My Heart||Nancy|
|1989||Street Justice||Catherine Watson||TV film|
|Those She Left Behind||Diane Pappas||TV film|
|The Preppie Murder||Linda Fairstein||TV film|
|1990||Blind Faith||Maria Marshall||TV film|
|1990||The Great Los Angeles Earthquake||Dr. Clare Winslow||TV film|
|1991||An American Summer||Aunt Sunny|
|Deadly Intentions... Again?||Sally||TV film|
|Captive||Kathy Plunk||TV film|
|1992||The Nightman||Eve||TV film|
|Desperate Choices: To Save My Child||Mel Robbins||TV film|
|1993||Not in My Family||Veronica Ricci||TV film|
|The Man with Three Wives||Katy||TV film|
|Shameful Secrets||Maryanne Walker-Tate||TV film|
|1994||No Dessert, Dad, till You Mow the Lawn||Carol Cochran|
|Mortal Fear||Dr. Jennifer Kessler||TV film|
|1995||See Jane Run||Jane Ravenson||TV film|
|Whose Daughter Is She?||Laura Eagerton||TV film|
|1996||No One Could Protect Her||Jessica Rayner||TV film|
|Terror in the Family||Cynthia Martin||TV film|
|1997||Mother Knows Best||Celeste Cooper||TV film|
|Sisters and Other Strangers||Gail Connelly Metzger||TV film|
|1998||Emma's Wish||Emma||TV film|
|1999||At the Mercy of a Stranger||Elizabeth Cooper||TV film|
|Girl, Interrupted||Annette Kaysen|
|2000||The Growing Pains Movie||Maggie Malone Seaver||TV film|
|2001||All Over the Guy||Lydia|
|Someone to Love||Matt's mother||TV film|
|2004||Growing Pains: Return of the Seavers||Maggie Seaver||TV film|
|2007||Knocked Up||Mrs. Scott|
|Manic||Dr. Kerns||Short film|
|2009||Eastwick||Edie||Episode: "Tears and Mind Erasers"|
|2010||Love & Other Unstable States of Matter||Joan||Short film|
|2017||Danny Brown: Ain't It Funny||Mom|
|1988-1992||Growing Pains||2 episodes|
|1995||The Mommies||2 episodes|
|Hope & Gloria||Episode: "A Dupree Family Christmas"|
|1997-98||Remember WENN||2 episodes|
|1998||Suddenly Susan||Episode: "Poetry In Notion"|
|1998-99||Love Boat: The Next Wave||2 episodes|
|2000-02||Any Day Now||4 episodes|
|2000||Beggars and Choosers||2 episodes|
|Titans||Episode: "Payback's A Bitch"|
|2001||Boston Public||Episode: "Chapter Fourteen"|
|That's Life||Episode: "Something Battered, Something Blue"|
|Judging Amy||Episode: "The Right Thing To Do"|
|2002||Leap of Faith|
|2002-03||Strong Medicine||3 episodes|
|2002||For the People||Episode: "Come Blow Your Whistle"|
|Dawson's Creek||Episode: "The Importance Of Not Being Too Earnest"|
|2003||The O'Keefes||Episode: "Substitute Teacher"|
|Defending Our Kids: The Julie Posey Story||TV movie|
|2004||The Division||Episode: "Rush To The Door"|
|One Tree Hill||Episode: "You Can't Always Get You Want"|
|2004||Growing Pains: Return Of The Seavers||TV movie|
|Clubhouse||Episode: "Trade Talks"|
|2005||Phil of the Future||Episode: "Double Trouble"|
|Dr. Vegas||Episode: "Babe In The Woods"|
|Joan of Arcadia||Episode: "Romancing The Joan"|
|2006-08||Men in Trees||4 episodes|
|2007||Medium||Episode: "Head Games"|
|2007-12||Army Wives||6 episodes|
|2008||Notes from the Underbelly||Episode: "Friends And Neighbors"|
|The Gold Lunch||Short|
|Privileged||Episode: "All About Friends And Family"|
|Grey's Anatomy||Episode: "Rise Up"|
|Private Practice||Episode: "Serving Two Masters"|
|2009||Samantha Who?||Episode: "The Dream Job"|
|2011||Gigantic||Episode: "Back To Normal"|
|Friends with Benefits||Episode: "The Benefit Of The Right Track"|
|2012-13||The Lying Game||2 episodes|
|2012-16||Pretty Little Liars||4 episodes|
|2013-14||The Fosters||2 episodes|
|Switched at Birth||3 episodes|
|2014-15||Chasing Life||2 episodes|
|2015-16||Jane the Virgin||3 episodes|
|2015||Awkward||Episode: "The Big Reveal"|
|Nashville||Episode: "The Slender Threads That Bind Us Here"|
|2015-16||Crazy Ex-Girlfriend||2 episodes|
|2016||Recovery Road||Episode: "Parties Without Borders"|
|2016-18||The Goldbergs||3 episodes|
|2016||Pitch||Episode: "Wear It"|
|Fuller House||3 episodes|
|2018||This Is Us||Episode: "Vegas, Baby"|
|Man with a Plan||Episode: "Everybody's a Winner"|
|American Woman||Episode: "The Cost Of Living"|
|The Good Doctor||Episode: "Empathy"|
|2019||Dynasty||Episode: "How Two-Faced Can You Get?"|
|What/If||Episode: "What History"|
|Light as a Feather||4 episodes|
|Mad About You||Episode: "Happy Birthday, Bon Voyage, Goodbye For Now"|
|High School Musical: The Musical: The Series||6 episodes|
|2020||The Baker and the Beauty||Episode: "Get Carried Away"|
|Roswell, New Mexico||Episode: Crash Into Me"|
|Tiny Pretty Things||2 episodes|
|2021||FBI||Episode: "Short Squeeze"|
|Why Women Kill||Episode: "The Woman in Question"|
|2021-23||A Million Little Things||5 episodes|
|2023||Night Court||Episode: "Marathon-Thon-Thon-Thon-Thon"|
- ^ "Joanna Kerns Biography". Yahoo! Movies.
- ^ Cooper, Miriam; Herndon, Bonnie (1973). Dark Lady of the Silents: My Life in Early Hollywood. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company. pp. 28–29. ISBN 0-672-51725-6.
- ^ a b Wallace, David. "Kerns Turns". Philip Morris Magazine. Spring 1991.
- ^ Scott, Vernon (July 1991). "Joanna Kerns: At Long Last Love". Good Housekeeping. Retrieved March 13, 2022 – via 50megs.
- ^ "Growing Pains Stars: Where Are They Now?". Fox News. December 18, 2008. Retrieved March 13, 2022.
- ^ "'Growing Pains' Star Joanna Kerns Files for Divorce". TMZ. August 9, 2019.
- ^ Stone, Natalie (August 12, 2019). "Growing Pains Star Joanna Kerns Files for Divorce After Almost 25 Years of Marriage". People.
- ^ "The Talk".
- Joanna Kerns at IMDb
- Joanna Kerns at the TCM Movie Database