Who was Carolyn Jones?
Carolyn Jones was a popular American television and movie actress famous for her role as ‘Morticia’ in the television series ‘The Adams Family’. She acted in several movies like ‘The Turning Point’ as Miss Lilian Smith, ‘Road to Bali’ as Eunice, ‘Off Limits’ as Deborah, ‘How the West was won’ as Julie Rawlings and several others. She was a very imaginative child and as she suffered from asthma during her childhood, she was often very sick to go to cinema halls although being mad about movies. Hence, she would listen to her two favorite actors Danny Kaye and Spike Jones and read a lot of Hollywood movie magazines at home. Carolyn gave herself a complete head-to-toe make-over, going through painful nose surgeries to make herself look appealing in movies. Carolyn appeared in around 30 different television series. She even got an Oscar nomination for her film in ‘The Bachelor Party’ although she was on-screen for just five minutes.
Childhood & Early Life
Carolyn Sue Jones was born on 28th April 1930 in Amarillo, Texas, to Julius Alfred Jones and Cloe Jeanette Southern. Her father Julius was a local barber and her mother Jeanette was a housewife.
In 1934, her father abandoned the family, and her mother was forced to move along with her children to her parental house in Amarillo.
Carolyn was a very talented child and won several awards for dramatics, speech and poetry in school. She would always dream of attending the prestigious Pasadena Playhouse and in 1947 she got enrolled as a student there at 15 years of age (3 years below the minimum age for admission).
Although her grandfather agreed to pay her fees yet she worked in summer stock theatre adding to her income till she graduated in 1950.
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Carolyn started working as a stand-by performer in the Player’s Ring Theatres and later replaced the star of the theatre as she had left to get married. Jones was lucky to get noticed by a talent scout from Paramount pictures who gave her a screen test that turned out to be quiet good. Then, under them she debuted opposite William Holden in the movie ‘The Turning Point’ in 1952.
She started to act in television programs simultaneously with films. Carolyn debuted in the television program ‘Gruen Playhouse’ in 1952 .In 1953 she appeared in several episodes of the Television series ‘Dragnet’.
She next acted in a 3-D movie ‘House of Wax’ in 1953 enacting the role of ‘Cathy Gray’, a woman who is converted to a Joan of Arc statue. Carolyn was appreciated for her performance and she garnered excellent reviews. Next, she featured in Alfred Hitchcock presents anthology series in the ‘Cheney Vase’ episode where she acted as a secretary who assists her boyfriend in an attempted art theft.
Carolyn appeared in the 1956 science fiction horror film titled ‘The Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ as Theodora “Teddy” Belicec and was highly praised for the role. In the same year she was cast by veteran film maker Alfred Hitchcock in the film ‘The Man Who Knew Too Much’ as Cindy Fontaine.
She shone as a star performer in the film ‘The Bachelor Party’ in 1957 as the Existentialist. She stunned the cast by cutting short her hair and even dyeing it black for the role. Carolyn got rave reviews for her acting in the film and was nominated for an Academy Award for ‘Best Supporting Actress’ and also shared a Golden Globe award for ‘Most Promising Newcomer’ with Sandra Dee and Diane Varsi.
Carolyn went on to win the Golden Globe Award and the Laurel Award for her acting as Marsha Zelenko in the 1958 melodrama film ‘Marjorie Morningstar’. She gave a notable performance in the Elvis Presley starred film ‘King Creole’ as Ronnie in the same year.
From 1960 to 1963 she guest appeared along with Dean Martin in the movie ‘Career’ as Shirley Drake, with Anthony Quinn and Kirk Douglas in the movie ‘Last Train from Gunhill’ as Linda and on CBS’s television program ‘The Lloyd Bridges Show’ as Cathy. During this period she acted in two episodes of the television series ‘Burke’s Law’ as Carole Durand for which she got a Golden Globe nomination.
Soon she got the role of ‘Morticia Addams’ for which she is still remembered in the television series ‘The Addams Family’ in 1964. This role portrayal showcased her talent as a comedian and also fetched her ‘Golden Globe Award’ nomination. Since 1966-67 she guest starred as ‘Marsha, Queen of Diamonds’ in the Television series ‘Batman’.
Since 1967- 1976 she focused mostly on her television career playing ‘Stacey Mc Call’ in ‘The Dany Thomas Hour’, as ‘Lisa Whittaker’ in ‘Mod Square’, as ‘Annie Spencer’ in ‘The Virginian’ and as ‘Justine Cross’ in ‘Ironside’ to name a few.
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In 1976, Carolyn appeared as Wonder Woman’s mother ‘Hippolyta’ on the Television series of the same name. In 1977, she featured as ‘Miss Hattie’ in the horror film ‘Eaten Alive’ and in 1979 she appeared as ‘Beth’ in the drama film ‘Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff’.
Carolyn acted in all the three seasons of the television series ‘Fantasy Island’ (1979-1982) as ‘Ellie Ackland/ Clora McAllister/ Jessie De Winter’.
Her final work was playing the role of ‘Myrna’, matriarch of the ‘Clegg Clan’ in the soap opera ‘Capitol’ in (1982-83) despite suffering from colon cancer. She proved to be a very dedicated actress as she played some scenes even after being confined to a wheel chair and in immense pain.
Personal Life & Legacy
Carolyn, while studying in Pasadena Playhouse married her 28 years old fellow class mate Don Donaldson but they divorced very soon.
Her second marriage was with television producer Aaron Spelling in 1953. As Aaron was struggling in those days , he was hesitant to propose to her thus, Carolyn herself placed the proposal of marriage. She even changed to Judaism after marrying him. Carolyn also decided not to have children as she wouldn’t be able to juggle between family and her film career. They remained a loving couple for eleven years and finally got divorced in 1964 amicably. Carolyn didn’t ask for any alimony and they remained good friends.
Carolyn next went into wedlock with her voice coach Herbert Green (Broadway conductor, co-producer and musical director) in 1968. They started to live in Palm Springs, California .However, later in 1977 she decided to leave him and returned to Hollywood to try her luck once again. She proved to be very successful.
Despite knowing that she was suffering from colon cancer and would die any day, she married her boyfriend actor Bailey Britton in 1982 after being in a relationship for 5 years. She even wore lace and ribbon cap to hide hair loss due to chemotherapy.
In 1981, she was diagnosed of colon cancer and she suffered a lot of pain while going through chemotherapy but her cancer spread rapidly to her stomach and liver and finally died on 3rd August, 1983.