Carolyn Jones

Carolyn Sue Jones[1] (April 28, 1930 – August 3, 1983)[2] was an American actress of television and film. Jones began her film career in the early 1950s, and by the end of the decade had achieved recognition with a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for The Bachelor Party (1957) and a Golden Globe Award as one of the most promising new actresses of 1959. Her film career continued for another 20 years. In 1964, she began playing the role of matriarch Morticia Addams in the original 1964 black and white television series The Addams Family.

Carolyn Jones
Carolyn Jones 1956.jpg
Jones in 1956
Carolyn Sue Jones

(1930-04-28)April 28, 1930
DiedAugust 3, 1983(1983-08-03) (aged 53)
Resting placeMelrose Abbey Memorial Park Cemetery, Anaheim, California, U.S.
  • Actress
  • singer
Years active1952–1983
Don Donaldson
(m. 1950; div. 1951)

(m. 1953; div. 1964)

(m. 1968; div. 1977)

Peter Bailey-Britton
(m. 1982)

Early lifeEdit

Carolyn Jones was born in Amarillo, Texas, the daughter of Chloe Jeanette Southern,[3] a housewife, and Julius Alfred Jones, a barber.[1][4][5] After their father abandoned the family in 1934, Carolyn and her younger sister, Bette Rhea Jones,[3] moved with their mother into her maternal grandparents' Amarillo home.[6] Jones suffered from severe asthma that often restricted her childhood activities, and when her condition prevented her from going to the movies, she became an avid reader of Hollywood fan magazines and aspired to become an actress. She enrolled at the Pasadena Playhouse in California at age 17, with her grandfather, Charles W. Baker, paying her tuition.[7][8][9]

Guest stars for the 1961 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.
Carolyn Jones and John Church in the Broadway production of The Homecoming by Harold Pinter in 1967[10]


After being spotted by a talent scout at the Playhouse, Jones secured a contract with Paramount Pictures and made her first film, an uncredited part in The Turning Point (1952);[9] had an uncredited bit part as a nightclub hostess in The Big Heat (1953); and a role in House of Wax (also 1953) as the woman who is converted by Vincent Price's character into a Joan of Arc statue. She played Beth in Shield for Murder (1954), earning $500 per day for playing the role.[11]

Jones was cast in the film From Here to Eternity (1953) in the role of Alma "Lorene" Burke. A bout of pneumonia forced her to withdraw; the role earned Donna Reed the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.[12]

She appeared in Invasion of the Body Snatchers and in the Alfred Hitchcock film, The Man Who Knew Too Much (both 1956), a remake of one of the director's earlier films.

In 1958, Jones was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for The Bachelor Party (1957), and she also shared the Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress with Sandra Dee and Diane Varsi, and appeared with Elvis Presley in King Creole (1958).

Jones played opposite Frank Sinatra in Frank Capra's A Hole in the Head, Dean Martin in Career, and Anthony Quinn and Kirk Douglas in Last Train from Gun Hill (all 1959).

In the epic Western, How the West Was Won (1963), she played the role of Sheriff Jeb Rawlings' (George Peppard) wife. She appears with Peppard and Debbie Reynolds in the final speaking/singing scenes of the film.


She appeared in several episodes of Dragnet, credited as Carolyn Jones in several episodes

Jones made her television debut on the DuMont series Gruen Playhouse in 1952. She appeared in two Rod Cameron syndicated series, City Detective and State Trooper, as Betty Fowler in the 1956 episode, "The Paperhanger of Pioche". She made five appearances on the crime drama series Dragnet, starring Jack Webb, between 1953 and 1955. Jones appeared on the CBS anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents in the episode "The Cheney Vase" (1955), as a secretary assisting her scheming boyfriend Darren McGavin in attempting an art theft, and opposite Ruta Lee.

In 1957, she had the lead in the episode "The Girl in the Grass" on CBS's Schlitz Playhouse, with once again Ray Milland and Nora Marlowe.

Jones guest starred three times on the television series Wagon Train: in first-season episode "The John Cameron Story" (1957) and in later color episodes "The Jenna Douglas Story" (1961) and "The Molly Kincaid Story" (1963). Also in 1963 she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best TV Star - Female for portraying quadruplets—one the murder victim and the others suspects—in the Burke's Law episode "Who Killed Sweet Betsy?"

She guest-starred in CBS's The DuPont Show with June Allyson, with James Best and Jack Mullaney, in the episode "Love on Credit" (1960).

In the 1962–1963 season, Jones guest-starred on CBS's The Lloyd Bridges Show, which Spelling created. While married to Spelling, she appeared on the NBC program Here's Hollywood.[13]

In 1964, using a long coal-black wig, Jones began playing Morticia Addams on the television series The Addams Family, a role which brought her success as a comedian and a Golden Globe Award nomination. She guest-starred on the 1960s TV series Batman, playing Marsha, the Queen of Diamonds,[5] and in 1976 appeared as the title character's mother, Hippolyta, in the Wonder Woman TV series. In Tobe Hooper's movie Eaten Alive (1976), she played a madam running a rural whorehouse. The film also featured Neville Brand, Roberta Collins, and Robert Englund. Her last role was that of Myrna, the scheming matriarch of the Clegg clan, on the soap opera Capitol from the first episode in March 1982 until March 1983, though she already knew that she was dying of cancer. During her occasional absences, veteran actress Marla Adams subbed for her.

Her acting career declined after The Addams Family ended in 1966. Sporadic roles in the 1970s included that of Mrs. Moore, the wife of the plantation owner in the miniseries Roots.

Personal lifeEdit

Jones was married four times and had no children. While studying at the Pasadena Playhouse, Jones married Don Donaldson, a 28-year-old fellow student. The couple soon divorced.[14]

Jones converted to Judaism upon being married to television producer Aaron Spelling from 1953 until their 1964 separation and divorce.[15]

Her third marriage, in 1968, was to Tony Award-winning Broadway musical director, vocal arranger and co-producer Herbert Greene (who was her vocal coach); she left him in 1977. She married actor Peter Bailey-Britton in September 1982.[citation needed]

Final years and deathEdit

Jones gained the role of the power-driven political matriarch Myrna Clegg in the CBS daytime soap opera Capitol in 1981. The following year, shortly after Capitol debuted, she was diagnosed with colon cancer, and played many of her scenes in a wheelchair.[16] The cancer spread quickly to her liver and stomach. Despite the pain, Jones finished the first season.[17]

Even after being diagnosed with colon cancer, Jones continued to work while telling colleagues she was being treated for ulcers.[18] After a period of apparent remission, the cancer returned in 1982. In September 1982, realizing she was dying, Jones married her boyfriend of five years, actor Peter Bailey-Britton. She wore a lace and ribbon cap to hide the loss of her hair from chemotherapy.[citation needed]

In July 1983, she fell into a coma at her home in West Hollywood, California, where she died on August 3, 1983. Her body was cremated on August 4 and a memorial service was held at Glasband-Willen Mortuary in Altadena, California, on August 5, 1983. Her ashes were interred in her mother's crypt at Melrose Abbey Memorial Park & Mortuary in Anaheim. She donated her Morticia costume and wig to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, while a collection of The Addams Family scripts was donated by Bailey-Britton to UCLA.[19]



Jones and Aaron Spelling in 1960
Year Title Role Notes
1952 The Turning Point Miss Lillian Smith Uncredited
1952 Road to Bali Eunice Uncredited
1952 Off Limits Deborah
1953 The War of the Worlds Blonde Party Guest Uncredited
1953 House of Wax Cathy Gray
1953 The Big Heat Doris
1953 Geraldine Kitty
1954 Make Haste to Live Mary Rose
1954 The Saracen Blade Elaine of Siniscola
1954 Shield for Murder Girl at Bar
1954 Three Hours to Kill Polly her character says "I don't look so good in black"
1954 Désirée Mme. Tallien Uncredited
1955 The Seven Year Itch Nurse Finch
1955 The Tender Trap Helen
1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers Theodora 'Teddy' Belicec
1956 The Man Who Knew Too Much Cindy Fontaine
1956 The Opposite Sex Pat
1957 The Bachelor Party The Existentialist Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
1957 Johnny Trouble Julie Horton
1957 Baby Face Nelson Sue Nelson
1958 Marjorie Morningstar Marsha Zelenko Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress
(with Sandra Dee and Diane Varsi)
1958 King Creole Ronnie
1959 The Man in the Net Linda Hamilton
1959 Last Train from Gun Hill Linda
1959 A Hole in the Head Shirl
1959 Career Shirley Drake
1960 Ice Palace Bridie Ballantyne
1961 Sail a Crooked Ship Virginia
1962 How the West Was Won Julie Rawlings
1963 A Ticklish Affair Tandy Martin
1969 Heaven with a Gun Madge McCloud
1969 Color Me Dead Paula Gibson
1976 Eaten Alive Miss Hattie
1979 Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff Beth


Year Title Role Notes
1952–1954 Mr. and Mrs. North Various characters 3 episodes
1953–1955 Dragnet Various characters 5 episodes; billed as Caroline Jones
1954 The Pepsi-Cola Playhouse Karen Brook 3 episodes
1954–1955 Studio 57 Various characters 4 episodes
1955 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Pamela Waring Episode: "The Cheney Vase"
1954–1957 Schlitz Playhouse of Stars Various characters 4 episodes
1955–1957 The Millionaire Carol Fletcher; Emily Short 2 episodes
1957–1961 Zane Grey Theater Various characters 3 episodes
1957–1963 Wagon Train Various characters 3 episodes: 'The John Cameron Story';
1961–1962 The Dick Powell Show Various characters 3 episodes
1962 Dr. Kildare Evy Schaller Episode: "The Mask Makers"
1963–1964 Burke's Law Richards quadruplets (1963); Carole Durand (1964) 2 episodes
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best TV Star - Female (1963)
1964–1966 The Addams Family Morticia Addams; Ophelia Frump; Lady Fingers 64 episodes
1966–1967 Batman Marsha, Queen of Diamonds 5 episodes
1967 Rango Belle Starker Episode: "What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing Holding Up a Place Like This?"
1969 The Mod Squad Lisa Whittaker; Ginny Episode: "Lisa"
1969 Storybook Squares Morticia Addams Series debut
1969 Love, American Style Vera Segment: "Love and the Geisha"
1971 The Men From Shiloh Annie Spencer Episode: "The Legacy of Spencer Flats"
1972 The New Scooby-Doo Movies Morticia Addams Voice,Episode: "Wednesday is Missing"
1972 Ghost Story Martha Alcott Episode: "The Summer House"
1974 Ironside Justine Cross 2 episodes
1975 Kolchak: The Night Stalker The Registrar Episode: "Demon In Lace"
1976 Ellery Queen Rita Radcliffe Episode: "The Adventure of the Hardhearted Huckster"
1976–1977 Wonder Woman Queen Hippolyta 3 episodes
1977 Roots Mrs. Moore Television miniseries
1977 Halloween with the New Addams Family Morticia Addams; Ophelia Frump Television film
1977 Little Ladies of the Night Marilyn Atkins Television film
1977–1981 Quincy, M.E. Various characters 3 episodes
1979 The French Atlantic Affair Peg Television miniseries
1979 The Love Boat Margaret Jerome Segment: "Cindy"
1979–1982 Fantasy Island Various characters 3 episodes
1980 The Dream Merchants Vera Television miniseries
1980 Whew! Herself 5 episodes
1981 Midnight Lace Bernadette Chance Remake of 1960 feature film
1982 Tattletales Herself 5 episodes
1982 Capitol Myrna Clegg 8 episodes; final acting role


Year Award Category Title of work Result
1958 Academy Award Best Supporting Actress The Bachelor Party Nominated
1959 Golden Globe Award New Star of the Year – Actress Marjorie Morningstar Won
1963 Best TV Star - Female Burke's Law Nominated


  1. ^ a b Pylant, James (May 27, 2007). "The Addams Family's Carolyn Jones: A Descendant of Geronimo?". Genealogy Magazine. Archived from the original on June 10, 2008. Retrieved September 19, 2020.
  2. ^ Birth Certificate
  3. ^ a b Pylant, James (2012). In Morticia's Shadow: The Life & Career of Carolyn Jones. Jacobus Books. ISBN 978-0984185757.
  4. ^ Stroder, Chris (2000). Swingin' Chicks of the '60s: A Tribute to 101 of the Decade's Defining Women. Cedco Publishing. ISBN 978-0768322323.
  5. ^ a b Donnelley, Paul (2005). Fade To Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. New York City: Omnibus Press. p. 528. ISBN 978-1844494309. She was one of the stars on the hit TV game show Match Game (1973).
  6. ^ "1940 United States Census". Family Search. Retrieved December 30, 2016.
  7. ^ Pylant 2012, p. 36.
  8. ^ Thise, Mark M. (2008). Hollywood Winners and Losers, A to Z. Limelight Editions. p. 97. ISBN 978-0879103514.
  9. ^ a b "Carolyn Jones Is Dead at 50; A TV Actress". The New York Times. United Press International. August 4, 1983.
  10. ^ Carolyn Jones at the Internet Broadway Database
  11. ^ Weaver, Tom (January 10, 2014). A Sci-Fi Swarm and Horror Horde: Interviews with 62 Filmmakers. McFarland & Company. p. 174. ISBN 978-0786458318.
  12. ^ "Carolyn Jones". Retrieved March 10, 2022.
  13. ^ "Carolyn Jones and Marshall Thompson". Here's Hollywood. Episode 1.39. November 23, 1960. NBC.
  14. ^ Milwaukee Sentinel August 9, 1959, p.27
  15. ^ Spelling, Aaron; Graham, Jefferson (1996). A Prime-Time Life: An Autobiography. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 51. ISBN 978-0312142681."Do you think you know film? The 'TCM Classic Movie Trivia' book has more than 4,000 questions to test your knowledge", Los Angeles Times, September 19, 2011.
  16. ^ Del Vecchio, Deborah (December 19, 2012). Beverly Garland: Her Life and Career. McFarland & Company. p. 149. ISBN 978-0786465019.
  17. ^ Schemering, Christopher (1988). The Soap Opera Encyclopedia. Ballantine Books. ISBN 978-0345324597.
  18. ^ Bennett, Ray (April 28, 2015). "Why Carolyn Jones did not want to kiss Elvis Presley". The Cliff Edge. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
  19. ^ Pylant 2012, p. 207.


Further readingEdit

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