Dean Jones (actor)

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Dean Jones
Dean-jones-trailer.jpg
Dean Jones in the trailer for Under the Yum Yum Tree (1963)
Born Dean Carroll Jones
(1931-01-25) January 25, 1931 (age 83)
Decatur, Alabama, United States
Occupation Actor, singer
Years active 1956–present
Spouse(s) Mae Entwisle Jones (1954-1970) (divorced)
Lory Patrick Jones (1973-present)

Dean Carroll Jones (born January 25, 1931) is an American actor. Jones is best known for his light-hearted leading roles in several Walt Disney movies between 1965 and 1977, most notably The Love Bug.

Early years[edit]

Dean Carroll Jones was born in Decatur, Alabama to Andrew Guy Jones, a traveling construction worker, and Nolia Elizabeth White Jones.[1] As a student at Decatur's Riverside High School Jones had his own local radio show, Dean Jones Sings.[2] Jones served in the United States Navy during the Korean War, and after his discharge worked at the Bird Cage Theater at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, California.

Jones attended Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky, as a member of its Class of 1953 but did not graduate. However, the university awarded him an honorary degree in 2002, and he spoke at the ceremony for the dedication of Asbury's Andrew S. Miller Center for Communications Arts on March 4, 2011.[3]

Stage[edit]

After appearing in minor film and television roles, Jones made his Broadway debut (along with Jane Fonda) in the 1960 play There Was a Little Girl. He stepped into the role in Boston, Massachusetts on only one day's notice.[4] In 1960 he also played Dave Manning in the Broadway comedy Under the Yum-Yum Tree, a role which he repeated in the 1963 movie version starring Jack Lemmon.

After achieving success in film and television, Jones was set to return to Broadway as the star of Stephen Sondheim's new musical Company. Shortly after opening night, Jones withdrew from the show, due to stress that he was undergoing from ongoing divorce proceedings. Director Harold Prince agreed to replace him with Larry Kert if Jones would open the show and record the cast album. Jones agreed, and his performance is preserved on the original cast album (although it was Larry Kert who received the Tony nomination for Best Actor in a Musical.

In 1986, Jones, by then having become a Christian, starred in Into the Light, a musical about scientists and the Shroud of Turin, which closed four days after it opened. He had far more success touring in the one-man show St. John in Exile as the last surviving Apostle of Jesus Christ, reminiscing about his life while imprisoned on the Greek island of Patmos. A performance was filmed in 1986. He made one more Broadway appearance, in 1993, at the Vivian Beaumont Theater, in a special two-day concert staging of Company featuring most of the original Broadway cast.

Television and film[edit]

Jones started his film career by signing a contract at MGM, beginning with a small role as a soldier in Somebody Up There Likes Me and he later played disc jockey Teddy Talbot in the 1957 Elvis Presley smash hit, Jailhouse Rock. He portrayed a soldier in both Imitation General (1957) with Glenn Ford and Never So Few (1959) with Frank Sinatra.

On November 22, 1960, Jones had a major role in the episode "Red Sand" of ABC's Stagecoach West. He portrayed Joe Brady, one of two outlaws, with Harold J. Stone as Tanner. They are trapped during a sandstorm in a frontier house with series stars Robert Bray and Richard Eyer as Simon and Davey Kane, respectively. The outlaws are sought by the United States Army for armed robbery and the death of two guards. The young woman of the house, Martha Whitlock, played by Diana Millay, was recently deserted by her husband. She becomes attracted to Jones' character, who considers himself a failure since he had been orphaned at an early age. In the story line, it is determined that Brady is not guilty of the robbery and shooting of the guards but is culpable as an accessory after the fact.[5]

Jones subsequently starred in the NBC television sitcom Ensign O'Toole from 1962–1963, produced by Four Star Television, portraying an easy-going and inexperienced officer on a U.S. Navy destroyer. His co-stars included Jack Mullaney, Jack Albertson, Jay C. Flippen, Harvey Lembeck, and Beau Bridges. Jones also recorded a singing album, Introducing Dean Jones, for Valiant Records.

As Ensign O'Toole was the lead-in show on NBC to Walt Disney's The Wonderful World of Color, Disney ordered a print of Jones' latest film Under the Yum Yum Tree to study.[6] Disney signed Jones on for a string of Disney films in the 1960s and 1970s, beginning with That Darn Cat! (actress Hayley Mills' last film at Disney). His performance was so well-received that Disney used him for future movies including The Ugly Dachshund, Blackbeard's Ghost and Snowball Express.

Jones' signature Disney role would be as racecar driver "Jim Douglas" in the highly successful The Love Bug series. He appeared in two feature films (The Love Bug and Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo), as well as a short-lived Herbie television series produced in 1982 and the made-for-TV movie The Love Bug in 1997.

He also co-starred with Broadway-era co-star Jane Fonda in a popular 1966 romantic comedy, Any Wednesday.

In 1978 Jones took a dramatic turn, portraying Ed Cooper in the NBC television movie When Every Day Was the Fourth of July. Jones played an attorney in the 1930s who agrees to defend a man who has been accused of murder; accepting the case only after urging from his daughter. The film received critical acclaim and in 1980, Jones reprised the role of Ed Cooper in the ABC television sequel The Long Days of Summer.

In 1991 Jones appeared with Gregory Peck and Danny DeVito as Bill Coles, the president of Peck's company, which was fighting a hostile takeover by DeVito, in Other People's Money.

Jones then appeared as Dr. Herman Varnick, the evil veterinarian in the family film Beethoven in 1992. Coincidentally he also did the voice of George Newton in the TV version of Beethoven. He also appeared in a small role as Director of Central Intelligence Judge Arthur Moore in 1994's film adaptation of Tom Clancy's Clear and Present Danger, starring Harrison Ford.

On July 25, 1994, Jones was a guest on 100 Huntley Street.

Personal life[edit]

Jones' first marriage to Mae Entwisle ended in divorce in 1970. He has two children from that union. He has been married since 1973 to actress Lory Patrick and has a child from that marriage.

Dean Jones became a devout born-again Christian in 1973–1974, before his father's death in 1979. He had a history of suffering from depression. His wife Lory said, "One night he got down on his knees and prayed that God would free him from the miserable depression that he had always suffered. He told me that in an instant it was gone and he felt peace."[7] Jones has appeared in several Christian films.

In 1998 Jones founded the Christian Rescue Committee (CRC), an organization that helps provide a "way of escape to Jews, Christians, and others persecuted for their faith."[8]

Jones is now semi-retired and currently lives in California.

Filmography[edit]

Broadway appearances[edit]

  • There Was a Little Girl (February 29 – March 12, 1960)
  • Under the Yum Yum Tree (November 16, 1960 – April 15, 1961)
  • Company (April 26, 1970 – January 1, 1972) (replaced by Larry Kert on May 29, 1970)
  • Into the Light (October 22–26, 1986)
  • Company (Concert staging) (April 11–12, 1993)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dean Jones Biography (1931?-)
  2. ^ "Man at Work--Finally", People, November 11, 1991
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ theatermania.com Peter Filichia article, "How Now, Dean Jones?"
  5. ^ "Stagecoach West: "Red Sand"". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved August 26, 2012. 
  6. ^ A Conversation with Dean Jones Herbie Mania
  7. ^ "Man at Work--Finally", People, November 11, 1991
  8. ^ "At Home with Dean Jones", Christianity Today, Jan/Feb 2004

External links[edit]