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Subject: ARCHIVE: September 1, 2015 ~Dean Jones, popular and amiable musical stage and screen actor, whose career ranged from Broadway hits like Sondheim's "Company", to light Hollywood fare like Disney's "That Darn Cat!" (1965) and "Herbie the Love Bug" (1968), and whose great talent was only limited by the Faith-based choices in wholesome roles, dies at 84 after years living with Parkinson's disease. ...
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 …
Jones was born in Decatur, Alabama, to Andrew Guy Jones (1901-1979), a traveling construction worker, and the former Nolia Elizabeth Wilhite (1902-1977). As a student at Riverside High School in Decatur, Jones had his own local radio show, Dean Jones Sings. 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 later addressed the ceremony for the dedication of Asbury's Andrew S. Miller Center for Communications Arts.
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. 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 …
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.
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. 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.
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 whom 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 …
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. 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."
...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."
Jones died from Parkinson's disease in Los Angeles, California on September 1, 2015, aged 84. His body was cremated.