Early life, family, educational background
American television and film actress Jo Ann Pflug, was born on 2 May 1940, in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. She was raised in Winter Park, Florida, by her father, J. Lynn Pflug, and her mother, Kelly Pflug. Her father was elected mayor of Winter Park in 1958, which was the same year she matriculated from Winter Park High School. She has not publicly spoken about any siblings.
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In an interview for The Palm Beach Post with Leslie Streeter, Jo Ann said that her parents were fully supportive of her decision to go into show business. She added that although most parents are not supportive of this choice, her father was a poet, so he understood her desire to pursue her dream, ‘He was brilliant. And he encouraged me.’ She studied art and acting at Rollins College before attending the University of Miami, where she studied drama but did not like the capacity of students in the department.
She decided to transfer to the Radio and Television department where she ‘was the only girl,’ and graduated with a BA in Broadcasting, with a minor in American history.
While attending college, she had a weekly radio show in which she was known as Miss Make-Believe. Her show was called “The Magic Carpet,” and she would tell stories. She also hosted a weekly interview talk show for four years called “Montage,” and her experience enabled her to become the first woman in the late 1960s to have a live weekly television talk show in Los Angeles. She got to interview Christopher Reeve, director Gary Marshall, Senator Barry Goldwater, astronaut Alan Sheppard, and author Ray Bradbury among many others.
She entered several pageants too, including Miss Miami Beach 1961 and Miss Sunny Florida, which she won.
Part of her winning the pageant was that she could work on-air at the Miami ABC affiliate, but that didn’t happen. Jo Ann decided to move to New York and tried to get a job on the “Today” show, but they turned her down and told her she was too young and should first make a name for herself.
She went to California, and there studied with Lee Strasburg, a famous acting teacher, meantime booking a lot of television appearances and commercials. At first, she wanted to be known as Jo Ann Kelly professionally to honor her mother, but chose to use her actual surname in hopes that it would make her stand out. In an interview, she explained, ‘People said, ‘Is Pflug your real last name?’ and I would say, ‘If it wasn’t, would I pick Pflug?’ I would have to spell it, and people would say, ‘Oh, you’re the one with the funny name!’’
She hosted the Special Olympics for NBC, co-hosted “Good Morning L.A.” along with Regis Philbin, and hosted a Children’s Special for CBS, which received an Emmy Award.
In 1966 she debuted in a small role in “Cyborg 2087,” a science-fiction movie directed by Franklin Adreon, part of a nine-piece series produced by United Pictures Corporation. The films were all low-budget and made for television, but they were released in theaters.
In 1970 she played her first major role as a US Army nurse in “MASH,” Lt. Maria ‘Dish’ Schneider. The black comedy war movie was directed by Robert Altman and starred Donald Sutherland, Tom Skerritt, and Elliott Gould, adapted by Ring Lardner Jr. and based on “MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors,” written by Richard Hooker.
Even though the majority of her scenes were cut out of the movie, Jo Ann’s performance in the film was impressive enough to land her numerous lead roles in television shows. The film was one of 20th Century Fox’s biggest movies in the 1970s, and was the only MASH film released into theaters. The film follows a group of medical professionals during the Korean War, who are stationed at a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH). When speaking about the film, Jo Ann said, ‘It was such a great group of people… Bob was very creative and scary as a director…Elliot Gould, who played Trapper John and had been on Broadway. He was so good at improv.’
In 1971 she played Christina in “Catlow,” and the following year, she was Alice Gilligan in “Where Does It Hurt?”, starring Peter Sellers.
In 1997 she played Boss Jack’s wife in “Traveller”, and her last role was later that year as Cynthia Vaughan in “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” The American crime drama starred Kevin Spacey and John Cusack, and was produced and directed by Clint Eastwood. John Lee Hancock adapted John Berendt’s 1994 eponymous novel about an antique dealer who is on trial for allegedly murdering a male prostitute.
In 1966 she made her television debut with a small role in “The Beverly Hillbillies”, then the following year she became a cast member in “Fantastic Four”, the animated series based on the Marvel comic book series about four scientists who get superpowers and fight against villains. Jo Ann voiced Invisible Girl/Susan Storm, one of the lead scientists and superheroes.
In 1970 Jo played ailing nurse, Paula Lynch, in the episode, “To Carry the Sun in a Golden Cup” in the show “Marcus Welby, M.D.”, then co-starred in the television movie, “The Night Strangler” in 1973, which was the sequel to the 1972 television movie, “The Night Stalker,” and was followed up by the television series, “Kolchak: The Night Stalker” which aired from 1974 to 1975.
From 1978 to 1979, she played Lt. Katherine O’Hara in “Operation Petticoat” – the comedy series also featured Jim Varney, Melinda Naud, and Richard Brestoff.
From 1973 to 1981 Jo was often a panelist on the television game show “Match Game”, and co-hosted “Candid Camera” with Allen Funt during the 1970s, meantime in 1974 starring alongside Clint Walker and Peter Graves in the television movie “Scream of the Wolf.”
She was a series regular in the 1981 to 1982 season of the action-adventure series “The Fall Guy”, which aired on ABC from November 1981 to May 1986, and starred Douglas Barr as Howie Munson, Lee Majors as Colt Seavers, and Heather Thomas as Jody Banks. The show followed the three leads who played stunt performers in Hollywood, and who work as bounty hunters at night. Colt uses his knowledge and physical skills from working as a stuntman to catch criminals, and works with his cousin, Howie, who is studying to become a stuntman in Nashville; Colt regularly refers to him as ‘Kid.’ They are sometimes joined by Jody, who is a fellow stunt performer.
Jo Ann was the first actress to portray Taylor Chapin in “Rituals” in 1984. The American soap opera aired from September 1984 to September 1985 on Telepictures. Charlene Keel wrote the novel entitled “Rituals,” and worked with Ken Corday and Gene Palumbo to write the show loosely based on her book. The series was based in Wingfield, a fictional town in Virginia, where some of the residents were employees of Chapin Industries or Wingfield Mills, and the town also housed Haddon Hall, which was an all-girls boarding school. The soap opera centered around the Robertson, Gallagher, and Chapin families, and people connected to them professionally or personally. There were 260 episodes in total of 25 minutes each.
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Jo Ann was replaced with Tina Louise after her public departure from the show; according to Soap Opera Digest, she left because her character was involved in sexual scenes with partners she was not married to, and those scenes went against Jo Ann’s religious beliefs. Jo also guest-appeared in various series, such as “The Dukes of Hazzard,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “One Day at a Time,” “The Love Boat,” among many others.
She took a break at the end of the 1980s, and in 1997 returned to work, continuing in acting while still creating and presenting etiquette training sessions for business professionals and children. She retired after two films. In 2011 when living in Tequesta, Florida, she interviewed Johnny Mathis, Pat Boone, Mary Wilson, Shirley MacLaine, and other celebrities on her Saturday morning show on Seaview Radio, “The Jo Ann Pflug Show.”
On 21 December 1972, she married Chuck Woolery, an American game show host, in Orlando, Florida, at the Rollins College Knowles Memorial Chapel. Together they had a daughter, Melissa, but they divorced in 1980.
On 14 May 1988, she married Charles Stuck Young, and they are still together. She shared that she became a born-again Christian and was baptized in Shirley and Pat Boone’s home swimming pool. She then became a motivational speaker, and toured to share her story.
She returned to Florida to take care of her mother, Kelly, who passed away in 2010. In her interview with The Palm Beach Post, she said, it was ‘a joy and an honor to go through the stages of aging with her. Her name means ‘Warrior’ in Gaelic, and she was a feisty little warrior.’
She also shared that she was writing a handbook on how to take care of the elderly, as she took care of her mother.
Hobbies, favorite things, and interesting facts
In 1972 she rejected the role as Valerie Perrine in “Slaughterhouse-Five” because of the sexual content. She also turned down the role of Bonnie Franklin’s mom in “One Day at a Time,” a television sitcom aired from 1975. ‘After “MASH,” I was sought to do nudity. All nude roles… I’m not going to wait 30 years from now and have my children saying, ‘Oh, there’s mommy on the screen, nude.’ I don’t think so.’
She has brown hair, brown eyes, and is 5ft 7in (1.7m) tall.
Net worth and salary
Jo Ann’s net worth is estimated at $5 million, as of mid-2020.