Allan Jones (actor)

Allan Jones (October 14, 1907 June 27, 1992) was an American actor and tenor.

Allan Jones
Jones in 1945.
Theodore Allen Jones

(1907-10-14)October 14, 1907
DiedJune 27, 1992(1992-06-27) (aged 84)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupationsinger, actor
Years active19281992
Marjorie Buel
(m. 1929; div. 1936)

Irene Hervey
(m. 1936; div. 1957)

Mary Florsheim Picking
(m. 1958; div. 1964)

Esther Marie Villavincie
(m. 1967)
Children2, including Jack Jones

He is best remembered as the romantic lead actor in the film musicals Show Boat and The Firefly, as well as the male romantic lead in the Marx Brothers first two films for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races.

Early years

Jones, of Welsh ancestry, was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania[1] (some sources say Old Forge, Pennsylvania),[2] and grew up in Pennsylvania. His father and grandfather were coal miners, and he worked in coal mines early in his adult life. He left that occupation to study voice at New York University.[3]

In an interview in 1973, Jones recalled that his father and grandfather were musically talented: "My father had a beautiful tenor voice. So did my grandfather. ... Grandfather taught violin, voice and piano when he could. My father sang every chance he could get and realized his ambition through me."[4]


Jones appeared on Broadway a few times, including 1933's Roberta and the short-lived 1934 revival of Bitter Sweet[5] after debuting in Boccacio in 1931.[3]


Jones starred in many film musicals during the 1930s and 1940s. The best-known of these were Show Boat (1936), and The Firefly (1937)[6] in which he sang what would become his signature song: "The Donkey Serenade". He is probably best remembered today as the romantic lead opposite Kitty Carlisle and Maureen O'Sullivan respectively, in the first two films the Marx Brothers starred in for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer: A Night at the Opera (1935) and A Day at the Races (1937), filling a straight-man role opened by the departure of Zeppo Marx from the team.

His appearance in A Night at the Opera, was well received, and as a result, he won the coveted role of Gaylord Ravenal in the 1936 film version of Show Boat (opposite Irene Dunne) over such screen musical favorites as Nelson Eddy and John Boles. It would be Jones's most distinguished screen portrayal in which, under the direction of James Whale, he displayed fine dramatic acting ability, as well as his obvious singing talent.

Jones made a brief appearance in the 1936 Nelson EddyJeanette MacDonald film Rose Marie, singing music from Charles Gounod's Romeo et Juliette and Giacomo Puccini's Tosca, but according to Merchant of Dreams, Charles Higham's biography of Louis B. Mayer, Eddy, who apparently considered Jones a rival and a potential threat, asked that most of Jones's footage in Rose Marie be cut, including his rendition of the great Puccini aria E lucevan le stelle – and MGM agreed to Eddy's demand. Jones's final film for MGM was Everybody Sing (1938) opposite Judy Garland and Fanny Brice.

In 1940, Jones moved to Universal Pictures for two musicals: The Boys from Syracuse, with the stage score (severely cut) by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, and One Night in the Tropics with a score by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields, was also the screen debut of Abbott and Costello. After these two films, he slipped to leads in several "B" musicals, at Paramount, and Universal, including a reunion with his A Night At The Opera co-star Kitty Carlisle in Larceny with Music (1943). The same year he made a guest appearance, as himself, in the Olsen and Johnson musical Crazy House, where he again performed "The Donkey Serenade."


Jones recorded prodigiously throughout his career, primarily for RCA Victor. His 1938 recording of The Donkey Serenade ranks third among all-time sales of single records by RCA Victor.[3]


In the mid-1940s, Jones and pianist Frankie Carle starred in the Old Gold Show on CBS radio.[7]

Later years

Jones continued to perform until the 1980s, starring in stage productions of Man of La Mancha,[8] Paint Your Wagon, Guys and Dolls and Carousel. He also raised and bred horses on a ranch in California.[9]

Personal life

Jones was married four times. His wives included Hervey, Maria Villavincie,[3] and Mary Florsheim (granddaughter of Milton S. Florsheim).[10][11] He was married to actress Irene Hervey from 1936 to 1957. American pop singer Jack Jones[12] is their son.


Jones died of lung cancer at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City in June 1992, at the age of 84.[13]


Year Title Role Notes
1935A Night at the OperaRiccardo Baronewith the Marx Brothers
1936Rose MarieRomeo
1936Show BoatGaylord Ravenal
1937A Day at the RacesGil Stewartwith the Marx Brothers
1937The FireflyDon Diego
1938Everybody SingRicky Saboniwith Judy Garland and Fanny Brice
1939Honeymoon in BaliEric Sinclair
1939The Great Victor HerbertJohn Ramsey
1940The Boys from SyracuseAntipholus of Ephesus / Antipholus of Syracuse
1940One Night in the TropicsJim Moorefilm debut of Abbott and Costello
1941The Hard-Boiled CanaryMichael Maddy
1942True to the ArmyPvt. Stephen Chandler
1942Moonlight in HavanaJohnny Norton
1942When Johnny Comes Marching HomeJohnny Kovacs - aka Johnny O'Rourke
1943Rhythm of the IslandsTommy
1943Larceny with MusicKen Daniels
1943Crazy HouseHimself
1943You're a Lucky Fellow, Mr. SmithTony Smith
1944Sing a JingleRay King
1945Honeymoon AheadOrpheus
1945Senorita from the WestPhil Bradley
1964Stage to Thunder RockMayor Ted Dollar
1965A Swingin' SummerMr. Johnson
1970A Man Called Sledge


  1. Sterne, Mary (April 6, 1943). "Hollywood's Allan Jones Proves To Be "Regular Guy"". The Anniston Star. p. 5. Retrieved July 18, 2015 via
  2. Vallance, Tom (July 20, 1992). "Obituary: Allan Jones". The Independent. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  3. Anderson, Nancy (June 18, 1977). "Allan Jones may be starring in his son's movie". The Mercury. p. 48. Retrieved July 18, 2015 via
  4. Caffery, Berthia (July 16, 1973). "'Donkey Serenade' Is His Song". The Evening Independent. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  5. Allan Jones at the IBDB database, accessed May 13, 2012
  6. "Comedians, Opera Singers Contrasted In Movies Here". Washington Court House Record-Herald. December 11, 1937. p. 3. Retrieved July 17, 2015 via
  7. Patterson, Pat (April 12, 1944). "On The Beam". The Mason City Globe-Gazette. p. 2. Retrieved July 17, 2015 via
  8. "Allan Jones Is Star Of Man of La Mancha". Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph. August 31, 1971. p. 9. Retrieved July 17, 2015 via
  9. Langley, Frank (March 30, 1969). "Multi-Branched Career Keeps 'Oldtimer' Going". Abilene Reporter-News. p. 68. Retrieved July 18, 2015 via
  10. Chicago Tribune: "Noted figure in thoroughbred racing circles - Owned Cougar II, National Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame inductee in 2006" By Serena Maria Daniels February 15, 2010
  11. "Allan Jones Weds Florsheim Heiress". The Desert Sun. January 3, 1958.
  13. "Actor-singer Allan Jones dies". The Bulletin. June 29, 1992. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
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