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 actresses of 1959. Her film career continued for another 20 years. In 1964, she began playing the role of Morticia Addams (as well as her sister Ophelia and the feminine counterpart of Thing, Lady Fingers), in the original black and white television series The Addams Family.

Carolyn Jones
Jones in 1956
Carolyn Sue Jones

(1930-04-28)April 28, 1930
Amarillo, Texas, United States
DiedAugust 3, 1983(1983-08-03) (aged 53)
Resting placeMelrose Abbey Memorial Park Cemetery, Anaheim, California
EducationAmarillo High School
OccupationActress, singer
Years active1952–1983
Don Donaldson
(m. 1950; div. 1951)

Aaron Spelling
(m. 1953; div. 1964)

Herbert Greene
(m. 1968; div. 1977)

Peter Bailey-Britton (m. 1982)

Early life

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 her father abandoned the family in 1934, Carolyn and her younger sister, Bette Rhea Jones,[3] moved with their mother into her parents' 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 seventeen, with her grandfather, Charles W. Baker,[3] paying her tuition.[7][8]


After being spotted by a talent scout at the Playhouse, Jones secured a contract with Paramount Pictures and made her first film, The Turning Point (1952).[8] In 1953, she married aspiring filmmaker Aaron Spelling. She appeared in several episodes of Dragnet, credited as Caroline Jones in several episodes; 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.[10]

Jones was cast in the film From Here to Eternity (1953) in the role of Alma "Lorene" Burke, which was written for her. However, a bout with pneumonia forced her to withdraw; the role earned Donna Reed the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

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 guest-starred in Ray Milland's CBS sitcom, Meet Mr. McNutley. 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.

Jones appeared in Invasion of the Body Snatchers and in Alfred Hitchcock's remake of his own film, The Man Who Knew Too Much. 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 quintuplets and a psychopathic killer in the Burke's Law episode "Who Killed Sweet Betsy?"

In 1958, Jones was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for The Bachelor Party (1957), and she also shared a Golden Globe Award for "Most Promising Newcomer" 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). 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.[11]

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 last speaking/singing scenes of the film.

In 1964, using a long coal-black wig, the brunette 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,[12] 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.

Personal life and illness

Jones was a Democrat and supported Adlai Stevenson's campaign during the 1952 presidential election.[13]

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.

Jones landed 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.[14] The cancer spread quickly to her liver and stomach. Despite the pain, Jones finished the first season.[15]


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.[16] Jones was subsequently married to television producer Aaron Spelling from 1953 until their 1964 separation and divorce;[17] Jones converted to Judaism when she married Spelling.[18]

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.

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.


Jones was diagnosed with colon cancer in March 1981, but continued to work while telling colleagues she was being treated for ulcers.[19] After a period of apparent remission, the cancer returned in 1982. In July 1983, she fell into a coma at her home in West Hollywood, California, where she died on August 3, 1983. Carolyn Jones was cremated on August 4 and a star studded 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, California. She donated her Morticia costume and wig to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, while a collection of Addams Family scripts were donated by Bailey-Britton to UCLA.[20]



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
1954 Désirée Mme. Tallien Uncredited
1955 The Seven Year Itch Miss 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
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 quintuplets (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
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
1981 Midnight Lace Bernadette Chance Remake of 1960 feature film
1982 Tattletales Herself 5 episodes
1982 Capitol Myrna Clegg 8 episodes; final acting role

Awards and honors

Year Award Category Title of work Result
1957 Academy Award Best Supporting Actress The Bachelor Party Nominated
1957 Golden Globe Award New Star of the Year – Actress Marjorie Morningstar Won
1963 Golden Globe Award Best TV Star - Female Burke's Law Nominated


    1. The Addams Family's Carolyn Jones: A Descendant of Geronimo? Archived 2008-06-10 at the Wayback Machine
    2. Birth Certificate
    3. Pylant, 2012
    4. Stroder, Chris (2000). Swingin' Chicks of the '60s: A Tribute to 101 of the Decade's Defining Women. Cedco Publishing. ISBN 0768322324.
    5. Donnelley, Paul (2003). Fade to Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries. Music Sales Group. ISBN 0711995125.
    6. 1940 United States Census [Retrieved December 30, 2016].
    7. Thise, Mark M. (2008). Hollywood Winners and Losers, A to Z. Limelight Editions. p. 97. ISBN 978-0879103514.
    8. "Carolyn Jones Is Dead at 50; A TV Actress". The New York Times. United Press International. August 4, 1983.
    9. Carolyn Jones at the Internet Broadway Database
    10. Weaver, Tom (2010). A Sci-Fi Swarm and Horror Horde: Interviews with 62 Filmmakers. McFarland & Company. p. 174. ISBN 978-0-7864-4658-2.
    11. "Carolyn Jones and Marshall Thompson". Here's Hollywood. Episode 1.39. 23 November 1960. NBC.
    12. She was one of the stars on the hit TV game show Match Game (1973). Paul Donnelley, Fade To Black: A Book of Movie Obituaries, page 369 (Omnibus Press, 2003). ISBN 0-7119-9512-5
    13. Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, page 33, Ideal Publishers
    14. Del Vecchio, Deborah (2012). Beverly Garland: Her Life and Career. McFarland & Company. p. 149. ISBN 978-0786465019.
    15. Christopher Schemering, The Soap Opera Encyclopedia (Ballantine Books, 1987). ISBN 0-345-35344-7
    16. Milwaukee Sentinel August 9, 1959 p.27
    17. Spelling, Aaron; Graham, Jefferson (1996). A Prime-Time Life: An Autobiography. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 51. ISBN 0-312-14268-4.
    18. "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.
    19. Bennett, Ray (April 28, 2015). "Why Carolyn Jones did not want to kiss Elvis Presley". The Cliff Edge. Retrieved January 26, 2018.
    20. Pylant (2012), p. 207


    • Pylant, James (2012). In Morticia's Shadow: The Life & Career of Carolyn Jones. Jacobus Books. ISBN 978-0984185757.

    Further reading

    • Jones, Carolyn (1971). Twice Upon a Time. Trident Press. ISBN 978-0671270742.
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