Christopher Jones (actor)

William Frank Jones (August 18, 1941 – January 31, 2014), better known as Christopher Jones, was an American stage, movie, and television actor.[1]

Christopher Jones
Christopher Jones The Legend of Jesse James 1965.JPG
Christopher Jones as Jesse James, in 1965
William Frank Jones

(1941-08-18)August 18, 1941
DiedJanuary 31, 2014(2014-01-31) (aged 72)
Resting placeHollywood Forever Cemetery
Years active1965–1970, 1996
(m. 1965; div. 1968)

Carrie Abernathy
(m. 1976; div. 1983)

Paula McKenna
(m. 1983)

Early lifeEdit

He was born in Jackson, Tennessee, where his father was a grocery clerk and his mother, Robbie, was an artist. Jones's father and aunt admitted her to the state hospital in Bolivar, Tennessee, in 1945. Jones and his brother were then placed in Boys Town in Memphis, where he became a fan of James Dean after being told he bore a resemblance to him. He then joined the Army, but went AWOL, and after serving a sentence in a military prison, he moved to New York City, where he began his acting career. His mother died when he was 19.[2]

Acting careerEdit

Jones (having adopted the stage name Christopher) made his Broadway debut on December 17, 1961, in Tennessee Williams's The Night of the Iguana, directed by Frank Corsaro and starring Shelley Winters. Winters introduced Jones to actress Susan Strasberg, the daughter of method acting progenitor Lee Strasberg. Jones studied at Strasberg's Actors Studio.[1] Jones married Susan in 1965; the couple divorced in 1968.[1] Their daughter, Jennifer Robin Jones, was born in 1966.

Moving to Hollywood, Jones was cast in the title role of ABC's television series The Legend of Jesse James, which ran for 34 episodes in the 1965–66 season. When the series ended, he accepted the title role in the movie Chubasco (1967) with Susan Strasberg playing his character's lover/wife. Their real marriage did not survive the filming, and they divorced in 1968.[3]

Jones's next acting role, was rock star and presidential aspirant Max Frost in the influential cult film Wild in the Streets (1968), co-starring Shelley Winters, Hal Holbrook, and Richard Pryor.[4] Later that same year, Jones appeared with Yvette Mimieux in the sex comedy Three in the Attic.[5]

After two films in Europe with Pia DegermarkThe Looking Glass War and Brief Season, both in 1970—Jones was cast by director David Lean in Ryan's Daughter (1970). The two men had a difficult relationship; this was the experience of many actors who worked with Lean. The problems intensified when production of the film took 12 months instead of the expected six, because Lean would wait for the right composition of clouds or the perfect storm to brew. Unbeknownst to Jones, he was drugged during his filming of Ryan's Daughter by Sarah Miles, according to her first autobiography, A Right Royal Bastard; this caused him to believe he was having a breakdown. Jones also was involved in a car crash,[6] not knowing he had been drugged. The director and producers never informed him of the drugging. Later, Lean decided to have Julian Holloway re-record all of Jones' lines in post-production, a decision previously taken by Degermark for The Looking Glass War.[7] Jones received poor notices anyway, which took a personal toll on the actor. Jones returned to California after filming ended, staying for a time in his manager's guest house, the cottage behind 10050 Cielo Drive, where Sharon Tate had been murdered, and abandoned his acting career.[8] He engaged in a few long-term relationships, took up painting and sculpting, and lived quietly at the beach with his children.[citation needed]

Later lifeEdit

Jones was offered the part of Zed in Pulp Fiction (1994) by director Quentin Tarantino, but he turned it down.[9] He made a final screen appearance in crime comedy Mad Dog Time (1996) for his friend, director/actor Larry Bishop, who had appeared in Wild in the Streets. In his later years, Jones had a career as an artist and sculptor. His works included an oil painting of Rudolph Valentino that was displayed at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.[8]


Jones died on January 31, 2014, at the age of 72, owing to complications arising from gallbladder cancer.[8] He is survived by seven children, Jennifer Strasberg, Christopher Jones Jr., Jeromy McKenna, Delon Jones, Tauer Jones, Calin Jones, and Seagen Jones.[1] He is interred at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

When she was 18 years old, actress Olivia Hussey was allegedly raped by Jones in the house Roman Polanski had shared with his wife Sharon Tate, weeks after Tate's death. When she became pregnant, she had an abortion.[10] Hussey had dated Jones in the late 1960s, but ended the relationship because, she says, he was physically abusive toward her.


Year Title Role Notes
1967 Chubasco Chubasco
1968 Wild in the Streets Max Frost
1968 Three in the Attic Paxton Quigley
1969 Brief Season Johnny
1970 The Looking Glass War Leiser
1970 Ryan's Daughter Major Randolph Doryan
1996 Mad Dog Time Nicholas Falco (final film role)


  1. ^ a b c d Vitello, Paul (February 8, 2014). "Christopher Jones, Actor who Quit Field, Dies at 72". The New York Times. Retrieved February 9, 2014.
  2. ^ Christopher Jones Biography at cinetropic; retrieved February 1, 2014
  3. ^ Jan E. Morris "Christopher Jones - Wild at Heart" Retrieved 25 May 2015
  4. ^ Ebert, Roger (20 May 1968). "WILD IN THE STREETS". Chicago Sun-Times.
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger (20 December 1968). "THREE IN THE ATTIC". Chicago Sun-Times.
  6. ^ Phillips, Gene (2006). Beyond the Epic: The Life and Films of David Lean. p. 383. ISBN 0813171555.
  7. ^ Phillips, Gene (2006). Beyond the Epic: The Life and Films of David Lean. p. 386. ISBN 0813171555.
  8. ^ a b c Barnes, Mike (February 1, 2014). "'Ryan's Daughter' Star Christopher Jones Dies at 72". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved February 1, 2014.
  9. ^ Colker, David (February 4, 2014). "Christopher Jones dies at 72; actor quit at peak of career". Los Angeles Times.
  10. ^ Nicholson, Amy (1 August 2018). "Olivia Hussey, star of Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet: 'I was wild'". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 August 2018.

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