Early life, family, educational background
American television and film actress Jo Ann Pflug, was born on May 2, 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, the same year she enrolled in Winter Park High School. She has not spoken publicly about any siblings.
In an interview for The Palm Beach Post with Leslie Streeter, Jo Ann said her parents fully supported her decision to go into show business. She added that while most parents do not support 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 the 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 in college, she had a weekly radio show where she was known as Miss Make-Believe. Her show was called ‘The Magic Carpet’ and she told stories. She also hosted a weekly interview talk show called “Montage” for four years, and her experience enabled her to become the first woman to have a weekly live TV talk show in Los Angeles in the late 1960s. She was allowed to interview Christopher Reeve, director Gary Marshall, Senator Barry Goldwater, astronaut Alan Sheppard and author Ray Bradbury, among others.
She also entered several pageants, including Miss Miami Beach 1961 and Miss Sunny Florida, which she won.
Part of winning the pageant was being able to 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 show “Today”, but they turned her down, telling her she was too young and needed to make a name for herself first.
She went to California and studied under Lee Strasburg, a famous acting teacher, meanwhile booking many TV appearances and commercials. Initially, she wanted to be known professionally as Jo Ann Kelly to honor her mother, but chose to use her real last name in hopes that it would make her stand out. In an interview she explained, “People were like, ‘Is Pflug your real last name?’ and I’d say, ‘If that wasn’t the case, would I choose Pflug?’ I should spell it out, and people would say, “Oh, you’re the one with the funny name!”
She hosted the Special Olympics for NBC, co-hosted “Good Morning LA” 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-part series produced by United Pictures Corporation. The films were all low-budget and made-for-television, but they were released theatrically.
In 1970, she played her first major role as a US Army nurse in “MASH,” Lieutenant Maria “Dish” Schneider. The black war comedy film 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.
Although most of her scenes were cut from the film, Jo Ann’s performance in the film was impressive enough to land her numerous starring roles in television shows. The movie was one of 20e Century Fox’s biggest movies in the 1970s, and was the only MASH movie to be released theatrically. The film follows a group of medical professionals during the Korean War, who are stationed in a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH). Talking 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 improvising.’
In 1971 she played Christina in ‘Catlow’ and the following year she played 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 as Cynthia Vaughan in ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’ later that year. 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 novel of the same name about an antiques dealer on trial for the alleged murder of a male prostitute.
In 1966, she made her television debut with a small role in “The Beverly Hillbillies”, and the following year became a cast member in “Fantastic Four”, the animated series based on the Marvel comic series about four scientists who gain superpowers and fight against villains. Jo Ann voiced Invisible Girl/Susan Storm, one of the leading scientists and superheroes.
In 1970, Jo played the ailing nurse, Paula Lynch, in the episode “To Carry the Sun in a Golden Cup” on the show “Marcus Welby, MD”, and then co-starred in the 1973 television movie “The Night Strangler”, the sequel to the 1972 television movie ‘The Night Stalker’ and was succeeded 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 starred Jim Varney, Melinda Naud and Richard Brestoff.
From 1973 to 1981, Jo was a frequent panelist on the TV game show “Match Game”, and co-hosted “Candid Camera” with Allen Funt in the 1970s, while in 1974 he co-starred with Clint Walker and Peter Graves in the television movie “Scream of the Wolf.”
She was a series regular on the 1981-1982 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 protagonists who played stunt performers in Hollywood and who work as bounty hunters at night. Colt uses his knowledge and physical skills from his work as a stuntman to catch criminals, and teams up with his cousin Howie, who is studying to be a stuntman in Nashville; Colt regularly calls him “Kid.” They are sometimes joined by Jody, who is a fellow stunt performer.
Jo Ann was the first actress to play Taylor Chapin in ‘Rituals’ in 1984. The American soap opera aired on Telepictures from September 1984 to September 1985. Charlene Keel wrote the novel titled ‘Rituals’ and teamed up with Ken Corday and Gene Palumbo to write the show loosely based on her book. The series was set in Wingfield, a fictional town in Virginia where some residents were employees of Chapin Industries or Wingfield Mills, and the town also housed Haddon Hall, a girls’ boarding school. The soap revolved around the Robertson, Gallagher and Chapin families, and people associated with them professionally or personally. There were 260 episodes totaling 25 minutes.
— Silver Age Television 📺 (@SilverAgeTV) May 2, 2019
Jo Ann was replaced by Tina Louise following 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 has also appeared in several series such as ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’, ‘Charlie’s Angels’, ‘One Day at a Time’, ‘The Love Boat’ and many others.
She took a hiatus in the late 1980s and returned to work in 1997, continuing to pursue acting while still creating and presenting etiquette trainings for business professionals and children. She retired after two films. In 2011, while 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 December 21, 1972, she married Chuck Woolery, an American game show host, in Orlando, Florida, at Rollins College Knowles Memorial Chapel. Together they had a daughter, Melissa, but they divorced in 1980.
On May 14, 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 pool. She then became a motivational speaker and toured to share her story.
She returned to Florida to care for 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, just like she took care of her mother.
Hobbies, favorite things and interesting facts
In 1972, she turned down the role of Valerie Perrine in “Slaughterhouse-Five” because of its sexual content. She also turned down the role of Bonnie Franklin’s mother in “One Day at a Time,” a TV sitcom that aired in 1975. “After ‘MASH’ I was wanted to be naked. All nude roles… I’m not going to wait in 30 years and let my kids say, “Oh, there’s mommy on screen, naked.” I do not think so.’
She has brown hair, brown eyes and is 1.7 m tall.
Wealth and salary
Jo Ann’s net worth is estimated at $5 million as of mid 2020.