Dean Jones (actor)

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Dean Jones
Dean Jones 1966.JPG
Dean Jones in 1966
Dean Carroll Jones

(1931-01-25)January 25, 1931
DiedSeptember 1, 2015(2015-09-01) (aged 84)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
OccupationActor, singer
Years active1956–2009
  • Mae Inez Entwisle
    (m. 1954; div. 1971)
  • Loretta Basham (m. 1973)

Dean Carroll Jones (January 25, 1931 – September 1, 2015) was an American actor best known for his roles as Agent Zeke Kelso in That Darn Cat! (1965), Jim Douglas in The Love Bug (1968) and Dr. Herman Varnick in Beethoven (1992). He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance as Albert Dooley in The Million Dollar Duck (1971).

Early life[edit]

Jones was born in Decatur, Alabama, to Andrew Guy Jones (1901-1979), a traveling construction worker, and the former Nolia Elizabeth Wilhite (1902-1977).[1]

As a student at Riverside High School in Decatur, 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 near Lexington, Kentucky. A member of its Class of 1953, he did not graduate, but the university in 2003 awarded him an honorary degree. On March 4, 2011, he addressed the community during the dedication ceremony of Asbury's Andrew S. Miller Center for Communications Arts.[3]


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, at 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 musical Company in 1970. 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 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]

Guest stars for the premiere episode of The Dick Powell Show, "Who Killed Julie Greer?" Standing, from left: Ronald Reagan, Nick Adams, Lloyd Bridges, Mickey Rooney, Edgar Bergen, Jack Carson, Ralph Bellamy, Kay Thompson, Dean Jones. Seated, from left, Carolyn Jones and Dick Powell.

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 (1956) and he later played disc jockey Teddy Talbot in the Elvis Presley film Jailhouse Rock (1957). He portrayed a soldier in both Imitation General (also 1957) with Glenn Ford and Never So Few (1959) with Frank Sinatra.

Jones subsequently starred in the NBC television sitcom Ensign O'Toole (1962–63), 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.[citation needed]

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.[5] Disney signed Jones on for a string of Disney films in the 1960s and 1970s, beginning with That Darn Cat!. His performance was so well-received that Disney used him for future movies including The Ugly Dachshund (1966), Blackbeard's Ghost (1968), Million Dollar Duck, (1971) and Snowball Express (1972).

Jones' signature Disney role would be as race car driver Jim Douglas in the highly successful The Love Bug series. He appeared in two feature films, The Love Bug (1968) and Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977), as well as the short-lived Herbie, the Love Bug (1982) television series and the made-for-TV movie The Love Bug (1997). In 1969, Jones also was the host of a short-lived sketch-comedy hour on ABC-TV titled What's It All About, World? that became a variety show midway into its run, when the title was changed to The Dean Jones Variety Hour.[citation needed]

Away from Disney, Jones co-starred with Broadway-era co-star Jane Fonda in the romantic comedy, Any Wednesday (1966) and, in a dramatic turn, portrayed Ed Cooper in the NBC television movie When Every Day Was the Fourth of July (1978). In the later film, 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. Jones reprised the role of Ed Cooper in the ABC television sequel The Long Days of Summer (1980). He 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 (1991).

Jones, who was always famous for playing nice characters, took on the role as Dr. Herman Varnick, the evil veterinarian, in the family film Beethoven (1992). Jones employed method acting for the first time in his prolific career and didn't break character off set throughout the film's shooting period much to the surprise of cast members as well as family and friends who had never seen him so immersed in a role. He maintained his relationship to the Beethoven franchise by providing the voice of George Newton in the television version of Beethoven. He also appeared in a small role as Director of Central Intelligence Judge Arthur Moore in the film adaptation of Tom Clancy's Clear and Present Danger (1994), which stars Harrison Ford.

Jones also appeared in at least two episodes of Murder, She Wrote, which starred Angela Lansbury as Jessica Fletcher, a crime writer who also solves murders. On July 25, 1994, Jones was a guest on 100 Huntley Street.

Personal life[edit]

Jones' first marriage to Mae Inez Entwisle ended in divorce in 1970. They had two daughters. He was married to actress Lory Patrick from 1973 until his death in 2015. Lory had a son, Michael Patrick, who was Jones' stepson.[citation needed]

Jones became a devout born-again Christian in 1973 or 1974. His book Under Running Laughter (1982) recounts his experience of Christianity. He had previously suffered from bouts of depression. His wife, Lory, said, "One night he got down on his knees and prayed that God would free him from the miserable moods that he had always suffered. He told me that in an instant it was gone and he felt peace and joy flood into his heart."[2]

Jones appeared in several Christian films. He also voiced the narrator in Birdwing Records' 1979 studio album, Nathaniel the Grublet, as well as voicing the standard English narration for the 80 minute Bible overview, God's Story: From Creation to Eternity. 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."[6]


Jones died from Parkinson's disease in Los Angeles, California on September 1, 2015, aged 84. His body was cremated.[1]


Year Title Role Notes
1956 Somebody Up There Likes Me Private in Rocky's Tent Uncredited
1956 These Wilder Years Hardware Clerk
1956 Tea and Sympathy Ollie
1956 The Opposite Sex Assistant Stage Manager Uncredited
1956 The Rack Lieutenant Uncredited
1956 The Great American Pastime Buck Rivers
1957 Slander Newscaster Uncredited
1957 Ten Thousand Bedrooms Dan
1957 Designing Woman Assistant Stage Manager (Boston) Uncredited
1957 Until They Sail US Marine Lt. Uncredited
1957 Jailhouse Rock Teddy Talbot
1958 Handle with Care Zachary Davis
1958 Imitation General Cpl. Terry Sellers
1958 Torpedo Run Lt. Jake "Fuzz" Foley
1959 Night of the Quarter Moon Lexington Nelson
1959 Never So Few Sgt. Jim Norby
1963 Under the Yum Yum Tree David Manning
1964 The New Interns Dr. Lew Worship
1965 Two on a Guillotine Val Henderson
1965 That Darn Cat! FBI Agent Zeke Kelso
1966 The Ugly Dachshund Mark Garrison
1966 Any Wednesday Cass Henderson Alternate title: Bachelor Girl Apartment
1967 Monkeys, Go Home! Hank Dussard
1968 Blackbeard's Ghost Steve Walker
1968 The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit Fred Bolton
1968 The Love Bug Jim Douglas
1970 Mr. Superinvisible Peter Denwell Alternate title: The Unseizable Invincible Mr. Invisible
1971 The Million Dollar Duck Professor Albert Dooley
1972 Snowball Express Johnny Baxter
1974 The Sugarland Express Policeman at Football Game Uncredited
1976 The Shaggy D.A. Wilby Daniels
1977 Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo Jim Douglas
1978 Born Again Charles W. Colson
1986 St. John in Exile St. John
1991 Other People's Money Bill Coles
1992 The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible King Ahasuerus (voice) Direct-to-video ("Queen Esther" episode)
1992 Beethoven Dr. Herman Varnick
1994 Clear and Present Danger Judge Moore
1994 The Visual Bible: Acts Luke the Evangelist
1996 God's Story: From Creation to Eternity The Storyteller Voice, Direct-to-video, documentary
1996 A spasso nel tempo Professor Mortimer / Joe English title: Getting Around in Time
1997 That Darn Cat Mr. Flint
1998 Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero Dean Arbagast Voice, Direct-to-video
2007 Lavinia's Heist Tony Cavaletti Short film
2009 Mandie and the Secret Tunnel Jason Bond
2009 God Provides Abraham Direct-to-video (final film role)
Year Title Role Notes
1960 Zane Grey Theatre Deputy Bill Devlin Episode: "The Sunday Man"
1960 The Aquanauts John Anderson Episode: "The Stowaway"
1960 Outlaws Danny Cannon Episode: "Beat the Drum Slowly"
1960 Stagecoach West Joe Brady Episode: "Red Sand"
1961 The Dick Powell Show Detective Phil Winslow Episode: "Who Killed Julie Greer?"
1961 Bonanza Danny Kidd Episode: "The Friendship"
1961 Tales of Wells Fargo Jamie Coburn Episode: "A Killing in Calico"
1962 Target: The Corruptors! Barry Steele Episode: "Play It Blue"
1962 Wagon Train Lt. Burton Episode: "The Lieutenant Burton Story"
1962–63 Ensign O'Toole Ensign O'Toole 32 episodes
1963 Ben Casey Dr. Richard Connell Episode: "Fire in a Sacred Fruit Tree"
1963 Burke's Law Rudy Davis Episode: "Who Killed Eleanora Davis?"
1965 Kraft Suspense Theatre Eddie Carew Episode: "The Rise and Fall of Eddie Carew"
1965 Vacation Playhouse Alec Tate Episode: "Alec Tate"
1968 Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color Narrator Voice, Episode: "The Mickey Mouse Anniversary Show"
1971 The Chicago Teddy Bears Linc McCray 13 episodes
1972 The Great Man's Whiskers James E. Cooper TV movie
1973 Walt Disney: A Golden Anniversary Salute Himself (Host) TV special
1973 Guess Who's Sleeping in My Bed? George Gregory TV movie
1974 Medical Center Dr. Ronston Episode: "Spectre"
1976 Good Heavens Brad Episode: "Coffee, Tea, or Gloria"
1977 Once Upon a Brothers Grimm Jacob Grimm, Grandmother TV movie
1978 When Every Day Was the Fourth of July Ed Cooper TV movie
1978 The Wonderful World of Disney Himself Episode: "Mickey's 50"
1980 The Long Days of Summer Ed Cooper TV movie
1981 Aloha Paradise Alex Episode: "Alex and Annie"
1982 Kraft Salutes Walt Disney World's 10th Anniversary Mr. Lane TV special
1982 Herbie, the Love Bug Jim Douglas 5 episodes
1983 The Gospel According to Scrooge Narrator Voice, TV movie
1984 Don't Ask Me, Ask God Future Father TV special
1984 The Love Boat Marty Chenault Episode: "Julie and the Producer" (Parts 1 & 2)
1984 Finder of Lost Loves Steve Marsh Episode: "Yesterday's Child"
1984 Murder, She Wrote Marcus Boswell Episode: "It's a Dog's Life"
1988 Murder, She Wrote Leonard Palmer Episode: "Harbinger of Death"
1989 Fire and Rain Jack Ayers TV movie
1992 Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style Harry Bannister TV movie
1994 Beethoven George Newton Voice, 26 episodes
1995 The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes Dean Webster Carlson TV movie
1995 Nowhere Man Jonathan Crane Episode: "Father"
1996 Special Report: Journey to Mars Dr. Scott Berlin TV movie
1996 The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest Dr. Karel Voice, Episode: "DNA Doomsday"
1997 Superman: The Animated Series Col. Sam Lane Voice, Episode: "Monkey Fun"
1997 The Love Bug Jim Douglas TV movie
1998 Adventures from the Book of Virtues Chauncey Voice, Episode: "Trustworthiness"
2001 Scrooge & Marley Ebenezer Scrooge TV movie (final TV role)

Broadway appearances[edit]

Title Role Dates Theatre
There Was a Little Girl Stan Walters February 29 – March 12, 1960 Cort Theatre
Under the Yum Yum Tree Dave Manning November 16, 1960 – April 15, 1961 Henry Miller's Theatre
Company Robert April 26 – May 28, 1970 Alvin Theatre
Into the Light James Prescott October 22 – October 26, 1986 Neil Simon Theatre
Company Robert April 11 – April 12, 1993 Vivian Beaumont Theater


  1. ^ a b Flaherty, Mike (September 2, 2015). "Dean Jones, Affable Star in 'Love Bug' and a Disney Fixture, Dies at 84". The New York Times. p. B19.
  2. ^ a b "Man at Work—Finally", People, November 11, 1991
  3. ^ "Dean Jones '53 addresses Asbury community". Asbury University. 4 March 2011.
  4. ^ "How Now, Dean Jones?" Archived 2007-12-22 at the Wayback Machine,; accessed January 23, 2016.
  5. ^ A Conversation with Dean Jones Herbie Mania
  6. ^ Disney Icon Dean Jones Dies at 84. Christianity Today (originally published as "At Home with Dean Jones", Jan/Feb 2004); accessed December 10, 2017.

External links[edit]