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Shirley Jones

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Shirley Jones
Jones in the 1970s
Shirley Mae Jones[1]

(1934-03-31) March 31, 1934 (age 90)
  • Actress
  • singer
Years active1950–present
(m. 1956; div. 1975)
(m. 1977; died 2015)
ChildrenShaun born 1958

Patrick born 1962

Ryan born 1966
Musical career

Shirley Mae Jones (born March 31, 1934)[1] is an American actress and singer. In her six decades in show business, she has starred as wholesome characters in a number of musical films, such as Oklahoma! (1955), Carousel (1956), and The Music Man (1962). She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for playing a vengeful prostitute in Elmer Gantry (1960). She played the lead role of Shirley Partridge, the widowed mother of five children, in the musical situation-comedy television series The Partridge Family (1970–1974), which co-starred her real-life stepson, David Cassidy, son of Jack Cassidy.

Early life


Jones was born on March 31, 1934,[2] in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, to Methodist parents Marjorie (née Williams), no profession, and Paul Jones, owner of the Jones Brewing Company.[3] Jones' paternal grandfather came from Wales.[4] She was named after child star Shirley Temple.[5]

Jones says that many people have incorrectly assumed that her middle name was named after vaudeville and film legend Mae West, but Jones was actually named after her aunt. Coincidentally, the first star Jones ever met was West, who was performing at the Twin Coaches supper club in Rostraver around 1954.[6]

The family later moved to the small nearby town of Smithton. Jones began singing at the age of six in the Methodist Church choir and took voice lessons from Ralph Lewando.[5] While attending South Huntingdon High School in Ruffs Dale, she participated in school plays.

Jones won the Miss Pittsburgh contest in 1952.[7]



Early stage career

A program featuring Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy at the White House in 1957

Her first audition was for an open bi-weekly casting call held by John Fearnley, casting director for Rodgers and Hammerstein and their various musicals.[8] At the time, Jones had never heard of Rodgers and Hammerstein.[9] Fearnley was so impressed, he ran across the street to fetch Richard Rodgers, who was rehearsing with an orchestra for an upcoming musical. Rodgers then called Oscar Hammerstein at home.[9] The two saw great potential in Jones. She became the first and only singer to be put under personal contract with the songwriters. They first cast her in a minor role in South Pacific. For her second Broadway show, Me and Juliet, she started as a chorus girl, and then an understudy for the lead role, earning rave reviews in Chicago.[8]

Movie actress


Jones impressed Rodgers and Hammerstein with her musically trained voice, and was cast as the female lead in the film adaptation Oklahoma! in 1955. Other film musicals quickly followed, including Carousel (1956), April Love (1957), and The Music Man (1962), in which she was often typecast as a wholesome, kind character. However, she won a 1960 Academy Award for her performance in Elmer Gantry portraying a woman corrupted by the title character played by Burt Lancaster. Her character becomes a prostitute who encounters her seducer years later and reveals his true character. The director, Richard Brooks, had originally fought against her being in the movie, but after seeing her first scene, told her she would win an Oscar for her performance.[10] She was reunited with Ron Howard (who had played her brother in The Music Man) in The Courtship of Eddie's Father (1963). Jones landed the role of a lady who fell in love with the professor in Fluffy (1965).

In her film career, she has worked with some of Hollywood's icons: Jimmy Stewart, Gene Kelly, Marlon Brando, James Cagney, Henry Fonda, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and director John Ford.[6]

The Partridge Family

Jones with fellow cast members of The Partridge Family in 1972
The Partridge Family, season 1

In 1970, after turning down the role of Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch, a role that ultimately went to her best friend, Florence Henderson, Jones was the producers' first choice to audition for the lead role of Shirley Partridge in The Partridge Family, an ABC musical sitcom based loosely on the real-life musical family The Cowsills. The series focused on a young widowed mother whose five children form a pop-rock group after the entire family painted its signature bus to travel. She was convinced that the combination of music and comedy would be a surefire hit. Jones realized, however, that:

The problem with Partridge—though it was great for me and gave me an opportunity to stay home and raise my kids—when my agents came to me and presented it to me, they said if you do a series and it becomes a hit show, you will be that character for the rest of your life and your film career will go into the toilet, which is what happened. But I have no regrets.[11]

During its first season, it became a hit and was screened in over 70 countries. Within months, Jones and her co-stars were pop culture television icons.[12] Her real-life 20-year-old stepson David Cassidy, who was an unknown actor at the time, played Shirley Partridge's eldest son Keith and became a teen idol. The show also spawned a number of albums and singles by The Partridge Family, performed by David Cassidy and Shirley Jones. That same year, "I Think I Love You" reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 music chart, making Jones the second person, after Frank Sinatra, and the first woman to win an acting Oscar and also have a number-one hit on that chart, an achievement only matched by Cher and Barbra Streisand. The Partridge Family won a NARM award for the best-selling single of the year in 1970 for their hit "I Think I Love You".[13] In 1971, The Partridge Family was nominated for a Grammy under the Best New Artist category.[14]

Jones in 1972

The series' run ended in 1974.

Shirley Jones's friendship with David Cassidy had begun in the mid-to-late 1950s, when David was just six, after he learned about his father's divorce from his mother Evelyn Ward. Upon David's first meeting with Shirley before co-starring with her on The Partridge Family, he said, "The day he tells me that they're divorced, he tells me, 'We're remarried, and let me introduce you to my new wife.' He was thrilled when her first film, Oklahoma! (1955), had come out; and my dad took me to see it—I just see her, and I go, uh-oh, it doesn't really quite register with me, 'cause I'm in total shock, because I wanted to hate her, but the instant that I met her, I got the essence of her. She's a very warm, open, sweet, good human being. She couldn't have thawed it for me—the coldness and the ice—any more than she did."[15] Shirley was shocked to hear her real-life stepson was going to audition for the role of Keith Partridge. David said, "At the auditions, they introduced me to the lead actress [Shirley Jones] 'cause they had no idea, they had no idea. So I said, 'What are you doing here?' She looked at me and said, 'What are you doing here?' And I said, 'Well, I'm reading for the lead guy.' I said, 'What are you doing here?' She said, 'I'm the mother!'" Cassidy discussed his relationship with his stepmother on the show: "She wasn't my mother, and I can be very open, and we can speak, and we became very close friends. She was a very good role model for me, watching the way, you know, she dealt with people on the set, and watching people revere her."[16]

Cassidy appeared on many shows alongside his stepmother, including A&E Biography, TV Land Confidential, and The Today Show, and he was one of the presenters of his stepmother's Intimate Portrait on Lifetime Television, and the reality show pilot In Search of the Partridge Family, where he served as co-executive producer. The rest of the cast also celebrated the 25th, 30th, and 35th anniversaries of The Partridge Family (although Cassidy was unavailable to attend the 25th anniversary in 1995 owing to other commitments). In addition, Jack Cassidy's death in 1976 drew Jones and Cassidy closer as Shirley's three children and stepson mourned their father.[citation needed]

Shirley and other projects


In 1979, Jones tried her hand at television for the second time, starring in the NBC show Shirley,[12] which, like The Partridge Family, featured a family headed by a widowed mother, but the show failed to win ratings and was cancelled toward the middle of the season. Jones also played the "older woman" girlfriend of Drew Carey's character in several episodes of The Drew Carey Show, and reprised Shirley Partridge in a cameo in a 2000 episode of That '70s Show.[12]

Jones in 2010

She was also in the dramatic project There Were Times, Dear, in which she played a loyal wife whose husband is dying of Alzheimer's disease; she was nominated for an Emmy Award for this work.

In February 1986, Jones unveiled her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Vine Street just around the corner from Hollywood Boulevard. In 1983, she appeared in a rare revival of Noël Coward's operetta, Bitter Sweet. In 2004, she returned to Broadway in a revival of 42nd Street, portraying diva Dorothy Brock opposite Patrick Cassidy, the first time a mother and son were known to star together on Broadway. In July 2005, Jones revisited the musical Carousel onstage in Massachusetts, portraying "Cousin Nettie".

In July 2006, Jones received another Emmy Award nomination for her supporting performance in the television film Hidden Places.[12] She was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award for the same film but lost to Helen Mirren for Elizabeth I. She also appeared in Grandma's Boy (2006)[12] as a nymphomaniac senior citizen. On November 16, 2007, she took the stage at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, during the Oklahoma Centennial Spectacular concert that celebrated the state's 100th birthday. Jones sang the songs "Oklahoma!" and "People Will Say We're In Love" from the musical Oklahoma!.

Jones and Patrick Cassidy in 2012

In early 2008, it was announced that Jones would play Colleen Brady on the long-running NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives. Jones guest-starred on ABC Family's short-lived show Ruby & The Rockits as David and Patrick's mother.[12]

In 2008, U.K. label Stage Door Records released the retrospective collection Then & Now featuring 24 songs from Jones's musical career, including songs from the films Oklahoma!, Carousel, and April Love. The album featured new recordings of songs including "Beauty and the Beast", "Memory", and a sentimental tribute to The Music Man. She had a recurring role as Burt Chance's mother in the Fox TV comedy series Raising Hope.[12]

In mid-2012, Jones played Mrs. Paroo, when her son Patrick played Harold Hill, in a California Musical Theatre revival of The Music Man.[17]

In 2014, Jones guest-starred on an episode of General Hospital as Mrs. McClain.[12][18][19]

Personal life

Jones (left) with U.S. First Lady Nancy Reagan, September 29, 1982

On August 5, 1956, Jones married actor and singer Jack Cassidy.[20] They had three sons, Shaun, Patrick, and Ryan.[20] David Cassidy was Jack's son from his first marriage to actress Evelyn Ward and became her stepson. Jones divorced Cassidy in 1975.[20] She married actor and comedian Marty Ingels on November 13, 1977.[21] Jones and Ingels wrote an autobiography based on their relationship called Shirley & Marty: An Unlikely Love Story.[22] Despite being what Ingels called having an “odd-couple relationship”[23] and separations (she filed, then withdrew, a divorce petition in 2002), they remained married until Ingels' death on October 21, 2015, from a massive stroke.[24] After his death, Jones said: "He often drove me crazy, but there's not a day I won't miss him and love him to my core."[23]

On the evening of December 11, 1976, after Jones had refused an offer of reconciliation from Jack Cassidy, she received news that her ex-husband's penthouse apartment was on fire.[citation needed] Apparently, the fire started from his lit cigarette when he fell asleep on the couch; the following morning, firefighters found Cassidy's body inside the gutted apartment.[25] Jack "wanted to come back (to me) right up to the day he died", Jones said in a 1983 newspaper interview. "And as I realized later, I wanted him. That's the terrible part. Much as I love Marty and have a wonderful relationship—I'd say this with Marty sitting here—I'm not sure if Jack were alive I'd be married to Marty." Jones was 20 years old when she met Cassidy, who was seven years her senior, and she refers to him as the most influential person in and the love of her life.[26]

Jones is a supporter of PETA.[27]

Jones was devastated when Suzanne Crough died on April 27, 2015; Crough played one of her TV daughters on The Partridge Family. She had a very close relationship with the younger actress and remained close friends long after the series was cancelled, and regularly would send cards and birthday presents for Crough and her children. Jones said of Crough's death on Hollywood Life:

I am so devastated to hear of the sad and sudden loss of Suzanne. I still remember her as my young daughter on The Partridge Family. She was the baby of the show. It's a rude awakening that we are all mortal. How fleeting life is. My heart goes out to her family and children. Suzanne will always be remembered and I will always treasure my memories of her. Suzanne Crough ... my sweet TV baby for 5 years ... only 52 ... never a sick day ... two adorable children ... a devoted husband ... everything to live for ... just fell asleep at the dining room table and left us forever. Dear God take care of my baby.[28]

With regard to David Cassidy's alcohol abuse and legal problems, Jones once shared her family's related concerns:

We are just scared to death that we are going to wake up one morning and find out that he is dead on the floor. David has not had a relationship with anyone in the family for years. We are sick over it![29]

David Cassidy died on November 21, 2017.[30][31] The day after his death, Jones commented publicly:

Long before he played my son on The Partridge Family, he was my stepson in real life. As a little boy, his sweet sensitivity, and wicked sense of humor were already on display, and I will treasure the years we spent working and growing together. I will also find solace knowing that David is now with his dad.[32]




Year Title Role Notes
1955 Oklahoma! Laurey Williams
1956 Carousel Julie Jordan
1957 April Love Liz Templeton Laurel Award for Top Female Musical Performance (5th place)
1959 Never Steal Anything Small Linda Cabot Laurel Award for Top Female Musical Performance (3rd place)
1959 Bobbikins Betty Barnaby
1960 Elmer Gantry Lulu Bains Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Laurel Award for Top Female Supporting Performance
National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated-Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
1960 Pepe Suzie Murphy
1961 Two Rode Together Marty Purcell
1962 The Music Man Marian Paroo Laurel Award for Top Female Musical Performance (3rd place)
Nominated-Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1963 The Courtship of Eddie's Father Elizabeth Martan
1963 A Ticklish Affair Amy Martin
1964 Dark Purpose Karen Williams
1964 Bedtime Story Janet Walker
1965 Fluffy Janice Claridge
1965 The Secret of My Success Marigold Marido
1969 The Happy Ending Flo Harrigan Reunited with her Elmer Gantry co-star Jean Simmons
1969 El Golfo Mary O'Hara
1970 The Cheyenne Social Club Jenny
1979 Beyond the Poseidon Adventure Nurse Gina Rowe
1984 Tank LaDonna Carey
1999 Gideon Elly Morton
2000 The Adventures of Cinderella's Daughter Fairy Godmother
2000 Ping! Ethel Jeffries
2000 Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth Nurse Kervorkian
2002 Manna from Heaven Bunny
2004 The Creature of the Sunny Side Up Trailer Park Charlotte
2004 Raising Genius Aunt Sis
2006 Grandma's Boy Grace
2007 Christmas Is Here Again Victoria Claus Voice
2013 Family Weekend GG
2013 A Strange Brand of Happy Mildred
2013 Zombie Night Nana
2014 Waiting in the Wings: The Musical Broadway Diva
2015 On the Wing[citation needed] Grandma Ryburn
2016 The Irresistible Blueberry Farm Ruth Hallmark Movies & Mysteries
2018 Eco-Teens Save The World Senator Jeremy Ryburn's Mother







Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy albums


The Partridge Family albums


The Partridge Family singles


Shirley Jones albums


Shirley Jones singles

  • "Clover in the Meadow" b/w "Give me a Gentle Girl" (1957) (Dot Records) from April Love movie soundtrack
  • "Pepe" b/w "Lovely Day" (1960) (Colpix Records) from Pepe movie soundtrack (This record hit the top 5 in Spain, 1961, on the Discophon label)
  • "I've Still Got My Heart Joe" b/w "Everybody's Reachin' Out for Someone" (1971) (Bell Records 119)
  • "Ain't Love Easy" b/w "Roses in the Snow" (1972) (Bell Records 253)
  • "Walk in Silence" b/w "The World is a Circle" (1973) (Bell Records 350)


  • Oklahoma! (1955) (Capitol Records) (songs: "The Surrey with the Fringe on Top", "Many a New Day", "People Will Say We're in Love", "Out of My Dreams", "Oklahoma")
  • Carousel (1956) (Capitol Records) (songs: "You're A Queer One, Julie Jordan", "If I Loved You", "What's The Use Of Wond'rin", "You'll Never Walk Alone")
  • April Love (1957) (Dot Records) (songs: "Give Me A Gentle Girl", "April Love" with Pat Boone, "Do It Yourself" with Pat Boone, "The Bentonville Fair" with Pat Boone, "Finale" with Pat Boone)
  • Never Steal Anything Small (1959) (song: "I Haven't Got a Thing to Wear")
  • Pepe (1960) Colpix Records (songs: "Pepe", "Lovely Day")
  • The Music Man (1962) (Warner Bros. Records) (songs: "Piano Lesson / If You Don't Mind My Saying So", "Goodnight, My Someone", "Being in Love", "Lida Rose/Will I Ever Tell You", "Till There Was You")
  • Endless Night (1972) (song: "Endless Night")
  • Manna from Heaven (2002) (song: "Just the Way You Look Tonight")
  • Christmas Is Here Again (2007) (songs: "Easy To Dream", "All Because of Me")
  • Over the Garden Wall (2014) (song: "One Is a Bird")

Album appearances



  1. ^ a b "Shirley Jones". pabook.libraries.psu.edu. Pennsylvania State University. Retrieved December 18, 2023.
  2. ^ "Shirley Jones". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  3. ^ Jones, Shirley; Leigh, Wendy (2013). Shirley Jones: A Memoir. Simon & Schuster. pp. 6, 8. ISBN 9781476725963. Retrieved March 31, 2020.
  4. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: Shirley Jones (March 26, 2012). Shirley Jones Interview Part 2 of 5 - TelevisionAcademy.com/Interviews (video). FoundationINTERVIEWS. Retrieved March 27, 2020 – via YouTube.
  5. ^ a b Summers, Kim. "Artist Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved March 27, 2020.
  6. ^ a b Segal, Steve (April 13, 2016). "Shirley Jones a Western Pa. girl at heart". Tribune-Review. Pittsburgh. Retrieved March 27, 2020.
  7. ^ Conley, Patti (June 17, 2007). "Shirley's doin' fine in 'Oklahoma'". Beaver County Times. p. B1. Retrieved July 23, 2013 – via Google News.
  8. ^ a b Thomas, Bob (October 18, 1954). "Writer Ranks Shirley Jones Luckiest Girl in Hollywood". Reading Eagle – via Google News.
  9. ^ a b Liane Hansen (January 16, 2011). "Shirley Jones Sings For Richard Rodgers". NPR (Podcast). Retrieved March 28, 2020.
  10. ^ "Why a Director Didn't Want Shirley Jones in His Film". WDCW. August 9, 2013.[permanent dead link]
  11. ^ King, Susan (May 26, 2009). "Shirley Jones: No Regrets, and Still Going Strong at 75". Vancouver Sun. p. 35 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h "Shirley Jones". TVGuide.com. TV Guide. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  13. ^ Cassidy, David; Deffaa, Chip (1994). C'mon, Get Happy...Fear and Loathing on the Partridge Family Bus. New York: Warner Books. p. 92. ISBN 978-0446395311.
  14. ^ "13th Annual GRAMMY Awards (1970)". Recording Academy. November 28, 2017. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  15. ^ David Cassidy quoted on a Biography Channel episode about Shirley Jones – airdate January 10, 2012
  16. ^ "Shirley Jones". Biography. January 10, 2012. A&E.
  17. ^ "The Music Man". California Musical Theatre. Archived from the original on May 14, 2012. Retrieved July 25, 2012.
  18. ^ Logan, Michael (January 16, 2014). "First Look: Shirley Jones Guests on General Hospital". TV Guide. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  19. ^ "Shirley Jones To Guest On GH". Soap Opera Digest. January 8, 2014. Retrieved July 31, 2014.
  20. ^ a b c Donnelley, Paul (2003). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Music Sales Group. p. 144. ISBN 0-711-99512-5.
  21. ^ "Marty Ingels dies at 79; comedian was known for his raspy voice, marriage to Shirley Jones". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. October 22, 2015.
  22. ^ Jones, Shirley; Ingles, Marty (May 14, 1993). Shirley & Marty An Unlikely Love Story. SP Books. ISBN 978-1-56171-236-6. Retrieved December 18, 2023.
  23. ^ a b Littleton, Cynthia (October 21, 2015). "Marty Ingels, Actor and Husband of Shirley Jones, Dies at 79". Variety. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  24. ^ Fox, Margalit (October 23, 2015). "Marty Ingels, Actor and Comedian, Is Dead at 79". The New York Times. p. A24.
  25. ^ "Jack Cassidy dead". Montreal Gazette. Associated Press. December 14, 1976. Retrieved July 23, 2013.
  26. ^ Fallon, D'Arcy (April 10, 1983). "Nice-Girl Image Plagues Actress Shirley Jones". Toledo Blade. Retrieved April 18, 2013.
  27. ^ Shirley Jones (October 30, 2018). Life and Death for Factory-Farmed Turkeys, With Shirley Jones (video). PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) – via YouTube.
  28. ^ Ishler, Julianne (April 28, 2015). "Shirley Jones 'Devastated' Over Suzanne Crough's Passing". Hollywood Life. Retrieved September 22, 2019.
  29. ^ "David Cassidy Stepmom Shirley Jones Family Scared To Death For His Life". Closer. October 15, 2015. Retrieved October 22, 2015.
  30. ^ Fortin, Jacey (November 21, 2017). "David Cassidy, Heartthrob and 'Partridge Family' Star, Dies at 67". The New York Times. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  31. ^ France, Lisa Respers (2017). "David Cassidy, '70s teen heartthrob, dies at age 67”, CNN, November 22, 2017. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  32. ^ Drysdale, Jennifer (2017). "Shirley Jones Pays Tribute to 'Sweet' Stepson David Cassidy", Entertainment Tonight, November 22, 2017. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  33. ^ "Good Luck Charlie". TV Guide. Retrieved March 27, 2020.
  34. ^ a b Clarke, David (May 12, 2014). "BWW CD Reviews: Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy's MARRIAGE TYPE LOVE is Sweet Nostalgia". Broadway World. Retrieved March 27, 2020.
  35. ^ "Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy SHOW TUNES". amazon.com. Sony Music. 1995. Retrieved October 19, 2016.

Further reading