Dean Jones (actor)

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Dean Jones
Jones in 1966
Dean Carroll Jones

(1931-01-25)January 25, 1931
DiedSeptember 1, 2015(2015-09-01) (aged 84)
Years active1955–2009
  • Mae Entwisle
    (m. 1954; div. 1971)
  • Loretta Basham
    (m. 1973)

Dean Carroll Jones (January 25, 1931 – September 1, 2015) was an American actor. He was best known for his roles as Agent Zeke Kelso in That Darn Cat! (1965), Jim Douglas in the Herbie franchise (1969–1997), and Dr. Herman Varnick in Beethoven (1992). He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for his performance as Albert Dooley in The Million Dollar Duck (1971). In 1995, he was inducted as a Disney Legend for his film work.[1]

Early life[edit]

Jones was born on January 25, 1931, in Decatur, Alabama, to Andrew Guy Jones, a traveling construction worker, and the former Nolia Elizabeth Wilhite.[2]

As a student at Riverside High School in Decatur, Jones had his own local radio show, Dean Jones Sings.[3] He served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, and after his discharge worked at the Bird Cage Theater at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, California.[citation needed]

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.[4]


After appearing in minor film and television roles, Jones made his Broadway debut in the 1960 play There Was a Little Girl. He stepped into the role in Boston, with only one day's notice.[5] In 1960, he also played Dave Manning in the Broadway comedy Under the Yum-Yum Tree, a role he repeated in the 1963 film version starring Jack Lemmon and Carol Lynley.

After working 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, he 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. He 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.[6]

In 1986, Jones, by then having become a fervent born-again Christian, starred in Into the Light, a musical about scientists and the Shroud of Turin, which closed after only six performances.[7] 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.[6] One 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 began as a contract performer for 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).[8] He portrayed a soldier in both Imitation General (also 1957) with Glenn Ford and Never So Few (1959) with Frank Sinatra. He gave a powerful performance as an ex-con trying to reform (with Joe's help) on Bonanza Season 3 Episode 8 "The Friendship" which aired 11/11/1961.

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 costars included Jack Mullaney, Jack Albertson, Jay C. Flippen, Harvey Lembeck, and Beau Bridges.[8] He also recorded a singing album, Introducing Dean Jones, for Valiant Records.[9]

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.[8] Disney signed Jones for Disney film productions beginning with That Darn Cat!. His performance was well-received. Jones continued with Disney for many years, starring in films such as The Ugly Dachshund (1966), Monkeys, Go Home! (1966), Blackbeard's Ghost (1968), The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit (1968). The Love Bug (1969), The Million Dollar Duck (1971), Snowball Express (1972), The Shaggy D.A. (1976), and Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977).

Jones' signature Disney role would be as race car driver Jim Douglas in the successful Herbie series. In addition to the two feature films, Jones starred in the short-lived television series Herbie, the Love Bug (1982) and the television film The Love Bug (1997). In 1969, he 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.[10]

Away from Disney, Jones costarred with Broadway-era co-star Jane Fonda in the romantic comedy, Any Wednesday (1966). In a dramatic turn, in the NBC television film When Every Day Was the Fourth of July (1978) he portrayed Ed Cooper, 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. He 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 known for playing pleasant characters, took on the role as Dr. Herman Varnick, the evil veterinarian in the family film Beethoven (1992). He employed method acting for the first time in his career and did not 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 animated 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 starred Harrison Ford.[6]

Jones also appeared in two episodes of the Angela Lansbury series Murder, She Wrote in 1984 and 1988.

Personal life[edit]

Jones was married to Mae Entwisle from 1954 to 1971; the couple had two daughters.[2] He was married to actress Lory Patrick from 1973 until his death in 2015.[2]

Jones became a 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."[3]

Jones appeared in several Christian films. In 1977 he portrayed Charles Colson in the feature film Born Again. He voiced the narrator in Birdwing Records' 1979 studio album Nathaniel the Grublet. Jones also voiced the standard English narration for the 80-minute Bible overview God's Story: From Creation to Eternity, and was the voice of Father Tim for Focus on the Family Radio Theatre audio drama At Home in Mitford in 2003.

In July 1994, Jones was a guest on 100 Huntley Street, a Canadian Christian discussion program.

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".[11]


Jones died of Parkinson's disease in Los Angeles on September 1, 2015, at age 84. His remains were cremated.[2]



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 Lieutenant Uncredited
1957 Jailhouse Rock Teddy Talbot
1958 Handle with Care Zachary Davis
1958 Imitation General Cpl. Terry Sellers
1958 Torpedo Run Lieutenant 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
1967 Monkeys, Go Home! Hank Dussard
1968 Blackbeard's Ghost Steve Walker
1968 The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit Fred Bolton
1969 The Love Bug Jim Douglas
1970 Mr. Superinvisible Peter Denwell
1971 The Million Dollar Duck Professor Albert Dooley
1972 Snowball Express Johnny Baxter
1976 The Shaggy D.A. Wilby Daniels
1977 Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo Jim Douglas
1978 Born Again Charles Colson
1986 St. John in Exile St. John
1991 Other People's Money Bill Coles
1992 Beethoven Dr. Herman Varnick
1994 Clear and Present Danger Judge Arthur Moore
1994 The Visual Bible: Acts Luke the Evangelist
1996 A spasso nel tempo Professor Mortimer, Joe
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 film (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"
1962–1963 Ensign O'Toole Ensign O'Toole Main role (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 Main role (13 episodes)
1972 The Great Man's Whiskers James E. Cooper Television film
1973 Guess Who's Sleeping in My Bed? George Gregory Television film
1973 Walt Disney: A Golden Anniversary Salute Himself – Host Television special
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 Television film
1978 When Every Day Was the Fourth of July Ed Cooper Television film
1978 The Wonderful World of Disney Himself – Guest star Episode: "Mickey's 50"
1980 The Long Days of Summer Ed Cooper Television film
1981 Aloha Paradise Alex Episode: "Alex and Annie"
1982 Kraft Salutes Walt Disney World's 10th Anniversary Mr. Lane Television special
1982 Herbie, the Love Bug Jim Douglas Main role (5 episodes)
1983 The Gospel According to Scrooge Narrator Television film
1984 Don't Ask Me, Ask God Future Father Television special
1984 The Love Boat Marty Chenault Episode: "Julie and the Producer" (Part 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 Television film
1992 The Greatest Adventure: Stories from the Bible Ahasuerus Voice, episode: "Queen Esther"
1992 Saved by the Bell: Hawaiian Style Harry Bannister Television film
1994 Beethoven George Newton Voice, main role (26 episodes)
1995 The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes Dean Webster Carlson Television film
1995 Nowhere Man Jonathan Crane Episode: "Father"
1996 Special Report: Journey to Mars Dr. Scott Berlin Television film
1996 The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest Dr. Karel Voice, episode: "DNA Doomsday"
1997 Nightmare Ned Abraham Lincoln Episode: "Monster Ned"
1997 Superman: The Animated Series Sam Lane Voice, episode: "Monkey Fun"
1997 The Love Bug Jim Douglas Television film
1998 Adventures from the Book of Virtues Chauncey Voice, episode: "Trustworthiness"
2001 Scrooge & Marley Ebenezer Scrooge Television film

Stage productions[edit]

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


  1. ^ "Dean Jones - D23". The Official Disney Fan Club. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d 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.
  3. ^ a b "Man at Work—Finally", People, November 11, 1991.
  4. ^ "Dean Jones '53 addresses Asbury community". Asbury University. 4 March 2011. Archived from the original on 6 October 2016. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  5. ^ "How Now, Dean Jones?". Archived 2007-12-22 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed January 23, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c Viagas, Robert (September 2, 2015). "Dean Jones, Original Bobby in Company, Dead at 84 – Watch His Unforgettable "Being Alive"". Playbill. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  7. ^ Rhodes, Jesse (May 10, 2011). "Broadway's Top Ten Musical Flops". Smithsonian. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  8. ^ a b c Barnes, Mike (September 2, 2015). "Dean Jones, Star of Classic Disney Family Films, Dies at 84". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  9. ^ "Introducing Dean Jones". AllMusic. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  10. ^ "The Dean Jones Variety Hour / What's It All About, World? (comedy variety)". Classic Themes. Retrieved September 13, 2022.
  11. ^ Disney Icon Dean Jones Dies at 84. Christianity Today (originally published as "At Home with Dean Jones", Jan/Feb 2004); accessed December 10, 2017.

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