Dean Jones (actor)

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Dean Jones
Dean Jones 1966.JPG
Dean Jones in 1966
Born Dean Carroll Jones
(1931-01-25)January 25, 1931
Decatur, Morgan County
Alabama, U.S.
Died September 1, 2015(2015-09-01) (aged 84)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Parkinson's disease
Occupation Actor, singer
Years active 1956–2009
  • Mae Inez Entwisle (m. 1954; div. 1971)
  • Lory Patrick (m. 1973; his death 2015)
Children 3
Parent(s) Andrew Guy and Nolia Elizabeth White Jones

Dean Carroll Jones (January 25, 1931 – September 1, 2015) was an American actor best known for his light-hearted leading roles in several Walt Disney films between 1965 and 1977, such as The Love Bug (1968). Jones also originated the role of Bobby in Stephen Sondheim's Company.

Early years[edit]

Jones was born in Decatur, near the larger neighboring city of Huntsville, Alabama, to Andrew Guy Jones (1901-1979), a traveling construction worker, and the former Nolia Elizabeth White (1902-1977). His parents are interred at Roselawn Gardens Of Memory in Decatur.[1][2]

As a student at Riverside High School in Decatur, Jones had his own local radio show, Dean Jones Sings.[3] 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 2002 awarded him an honorary degree. On March 4, 2011, he later addressed the ceremony for the dedication of Asbury's Andrew S. Miller Center for Communications Arts.[4]


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.[5] 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 had a major role in an episode of ABC's Stagecoach West ("Red Sand", 1960). 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.[6]

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.

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.[7] 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) and Snowball Express (1972).

Jones in The Love Bug (1968), with Herbie

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).

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. The film received critical acclaim and 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 then appeared as Dr. Herman Varnick, the evil veterinarian in the family film Beethoven (1992). Coincidentally he also did 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.

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 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 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. 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", now translated into almost 300 languages.[citation needed]

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 died from Parkinson's disease on September 1, 2015, aged 84.[1]


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)
  • St. John in Exile


  1. ^ a b Flaherty, Mike (September 2, 2015). "Dean Jones, Star of Disney's 'The Love Bug,' Dies at 84". The New York Times. p. B19. 
  2. ^ "Nolia Elizabeth White Jones". Retrieved September 7, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "Man at Work—Finally", People, November 11, 1991
  4. ^ "Dean Jones '53 addresses Asbury community". Asbury University. 4 March 2011. 
  5. ^ "How Now, Dean Jones?",; accessed January 23, 2016.
  6. ^ "Stagecoach West: "Red Sand"". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 26, 2012. 
  7. ^ A Conversation with Dean Jones Herbie Mania
  8. ^ Disney Icon Dean Jones Dies at 84. Christianity Today (originally published as "At Home with Dean Jones", Jan/Feb 2004).

External links[edit]