Vernee Christell Watson-Johnson (née Watson; born September 28, 1949) is an American actress, author, voice artist, and acting coach. Watson-Johnson is best known for her recurring roles as Vernajean Williams on Welcome Back, Kotter (1975–1979) and as Viola "Vy" Smith on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990–1996), playing the mother of Will Smith's character. She also voiced Dee Dee on Hanna-Barbera's animated series Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels. She also appeared in an NCIS episode (Season 14, Episode 2: "Being Bad").
Vernee Christell Watson
September 28, 1949
New York City, U.S.
|Known for||Vernajean Williams – Welcome Back, Kotter|
Viola "Vy" Smith – The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
(m. 1976; div. 1977)
(m. 1979; div. 1991)
Watson-Johnson was born and raised in New York City. She graduated from Cathedral High School and New York University with a major in drama. She began her professional career at age 17 with the Al Fann Theatrical Ensemble in Manhattan and would tour with the group for 5 years.
Watson-Johnson played Blue's love interest in the 1972 film Trick Baby. She was also a regular cast member of the 1985–1986 situation comedy Foley Square as Denise Willums, the secretary for Alex Harrigan, played by the show's star, Margaret Colin. She played a small role on Sister, Sister as Lisa's (Jackée Harry) best friend Patrice, and as the mayor's secretary, Lucille Banks, on Carter Country. She also had a recurring role as "Birdie" on The Young and the Restless. In 2005, she appeared in the film Christmas with the Kranks. In addition, Watson-Johnson has made appearances in episodes of television shows as The Love Boat, Hill Street Blues, Married... with Children, L.A. Law, Suddenly Susan, Dharma & Greg, The X-Files, ER, Days of Our Lives, Malcolm in the Middle, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Desperate Housewives, Ghost Whisperer, Benson, The Big Bang Theory, Good Times, Dexter, Two and a Half Men, Southland, Criminal Minds, A.N.T. Farm, What's Happening!!, Young Sheldon, Jessie, Mike and Molly, and several other series.
As a voice actress, she has been tied to Hanna-Barbera Productions and Warner Bros. Animation with roles in shows such as Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels, Laff-A-Lympics, A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, Animaniacs, Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond, as well as the feature film The Ant Bully, and several video games related to these productions. From 1991 to 1992, she lent her voice to the show Baby Talk, where she was the voice of baby Danielle (played by Alicia and Celicia Johnson). In 2006, Watson-Johnson had roles in three films: The Ant Bully, The Celestine Prophecy and Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties. In 2017, Watson-Johnson was cast as Stella Henry on the soap opera General Hospital, aunt of Donnell Turner's character Curtis Ashford. She won two Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Special Guest Performer in a Drama Series for the role in 2018 and 2019.
Watson-Johnson has been married twice. Her first marriage was to Joe Duckett from 1976 until 1977, and was last married to photographer Van Johnson from 1979 to 1991. Watson-Johnson has a daughter named Sunde Jinia Johnson (b. 1983) and a son named Josh with Johnson. In 2005, Watson-Johnson was a witness in Michael Jackson's child molestation trial.
|1970||Cotton Comes to Harlem||Woman|||
|1972||Trick Baby||Cleo Howard|
|1976||Norman... Is That You?||Melody||Credited as Vernée Watson|
|1978||Death Drug||Carolyn Thomas|
|1981||All Night Long||Emily||Credited as Vernee Watson|
|1987||G.I. Joe: The Movie||Scientist (voice)|
|1991||Showdown in Little Tokyo||Nonnie Russell - Coroner|
|1991||Hell Hath No Fury||Tyleen||TV Movie|
|1993||Batman: Mask of the Phantasm||Additional Voices|
|2000||Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker||Ms. Joyce Carr (voice)||Direct-to-Video|
|2002||Antwone Fisher||Annette Elkins|
|2004||Christmas with the Kranks||Dox|
|2005||The Legend of Frosty the Snowman||Mrs. Wader (voice)||Direct-to-Video|
|2006||The Ant Bully||Head Nurse (voice)|
|Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties||Tourist #2||Credited as Vernée Watson Johnson|
|2018||Home by Spring||Mrs. Wilson||TV Movie|
|2019||The Mandela Effect||Nadine|
TelevisionEditEpisode: The Hunter Hunted
|1975–1976||Welcome Back, Kotter||Verna Jean Williams||13 episodes|
|1977||Scooby's All-Star Laff-A-Lympics||Dee Dee Skyes (voice)||Unknown episode/s|
|1977||What's Happening!!||Judy Crane||Episode: "Nice Guys Finish Last"|
|1977||Good Times||Valerie||Episode: "Thelma's African Romance (Part 1)"|
|1977–1979||Carter Country||Lucille Banks||44 episodes|
|1977–1980||Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels||Dee Dee Skyes (voice)||Main|||
|1978–1984||The Love Boat||Various||4 episodes|
|1979||The World's Greatest Super Friends||University Scientist (voice)||Episode: "Universe of Evil"||
|1979–1981||Fantasy Island||Various||3 episodes|
|1981||The Jeffersons||Carol||Episode: "I've Still Got It"|
|1985–1986||Foley Square||Denise Willums||14 episodes|
|1990–1996||The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air||Viola "Vy" Smith||15 episodes|
|1991–1992||Baby Talk||Baby Danielle Craig (voice)||20 episodes|
|1993||Batman: The Animated Series||Dana Blessing / Doctor (voice)||2 Episodes|
|1993–1994||Grace Under Fire||Vicki Hudson||2 Episodes|
|1994-1996||Animaniacs||Mrs. Jenny / Oprah Winfrey / Robin (voice)||2 Episodes|
|1996||Superman: The Animated Series||Female Neighbor / Female Worker / Councilwoman (voice)||2 Episodes|
|1996–1997||Sister, Sister||Patrice||5 episodes|
|1999||The Young and the Restless||Birdie||19 episodes|
|2002||The West Wing||Nurse||Episode: "Twenty Five"|
|2002||The X-Files||Nurse Whitney Edwards||Episode: "Audrey Pauley"|
|2004–2012||Two and a Half Men||Nurse||2 episodes|
|2006||Dexter||Doakes' Mother||Episode: "Return to Sender"|
|2006||Desperate Housewives||ER Doctor||Episode: "Listen to the Rain on the Roof"|
|2006||Ghost Whisperer||Traci Cotter||Episode: Giving up the Ghost|
|2007||Days of Our Lives||Dr. Ella Kraft||9 episodes|
|2007–2016||The Big Bang Theory||Nurse Althea||6 episodes|
|2009||Criminal Minds||Miss Hightower||Episode: To Hell... And Back|
|2010||House||Nurse Smits||2 episodes|
|2010||Melissa & Joey||Miss Lunt||Episode: "Pilot"|
|2011||Good Luck Charlie||Principal Hibbert||Episode: "Teddy's Bear"|
|2013||Mr. Box Office||Mrs. Owens||Episode: "Holy Matriphony"|
|2013||A.N.T Farm||Granny||Episode: "early retiremANT"|
|2014||Jessie||Mrs. Harris||Episode: "From the White House to Our House"|
|2015||Two and a Half Men||Karen||Episode: "Boompa Loved His Hookers"|
|2016||School of Rock||Mrs. Calpakis||2 episodes|
|2016||NCIS||Miss Helen Frimkes||Episode: "Being Bad"|
|2016||Mike & Molly||Blanche||Episode: "I See Love"|
|2017–present||General Hospital||Stella Henry||Recurring|||
|2017–2019||Young Sheldon||Nurse Robinson||Guest
Credited as Vernee Watson
|2018||The Resident||Mary Phillips||Episode: "The Elopement"|
|2019–present||Bob Hearts Abishola||Gloria||Main role
Credited as Vernee Watson
|2003||True Crime: Streets of LA||Dispatcher|
|2004||Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas||Pedestrian|
|2006||The Ant Bully||Head Nurse|
|2020||Mafia: Definitive Edition||Additional Voices|
Awards and nominationsEdit
|Daytime Emmy Award||Outstanding Guest Performer in a Drama Series||General Hospital||Won|
|Daytime Emmy Award||Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series||General Hospital||Won|
- Company, Johnson Publishing (1982). Jet. Johnson Publishing Company. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
- "Happy Birthday To Vernee Watson!". Soap Opera Digest. 28 September 2018.
- "TV's Vernee Watson does some theater". The Daily American. 27 August 1979. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
- Bolden, Bonnie (7 January 1977). "Television Actress Claims Raleigh County Roots". Beckley Post-Herald. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
- Fearn-Banks, Kathleen; Burford-Johnson, Anne (October 3, 2014). "Watson, Vernee (1954-)". Historical Dictionary of African American Television. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 502. ISBN 978-0810879171.
- "Vernee Watson-Johnson profile". FilmReference.com. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
- "Vernee Watson-Johnson voiceography". Voice Chasers. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
- "General Hospital: Comings & Goings". Soaps.com. Retrieved June 7, 2017.
- Eades, Chris (June 7, 2017). "Stella on GENERAL HOSPITAL — Meet Vernee Watson!". ABC Soaps In Depth. Retrieved June 7, 2017.
- Ramos, Dino-Ray (April 29, 2018). "Daytime Emmy Awards Complete Winners List: Days Of Our Lives, The Talk, GMA Among Honorees". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 30, 2018.
- "Actress Vernee Watson Has First Child, Girl, 6 1/2 Lbs". Jet. 64 (9): 62. May 9, 1983. ISSN 0021-5996.
- "Jackson's Cousin Testifies". The New York Times. May 19, 2005. Retrieved March 24, 2019.
- "Michael Jackson Trial Continues". Life. United States. May 18, 2005. Retrieved April 20, 2011.
- "Cotton Comes to Harlem". Turner Classic Movies. Atlanta. Retrieved June 7, 2017.
- Himes, Chester (August 3, 2011). Cotton comes to Harlem. New York City: Knopf Doubleday. ISBN 978-0307803245.
- "Vernee Watson Johnson". Behind the Voice Actors. Retrieved March 24, 2019.
- "CBS Fall 2019-20 Schedule: Some Diverse Moves For The Most-Watched Network, But Lots Of Familiar Faces". Deadline. May 15, 2019. Retrieved May 15, 2019.
- Nordyke, Kimberly (April 29, 2018). "Daytime Emmys: The Winners List". The Hollywood Reporter. New York City: Prometheus Global Media. Archived from the original on May 2, 2018. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
- "The 46th Annual Daytime Emmy Award Winners" (PDF). Los Angeles: emmyonline.org and National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. May 5, 2019. Retrieved May 9, 2019.