Ike Jones

Isaac Lolette "Ike" Jones (December 23, 1929 October 5, 2014) was an American film producer and actor. In June 1953, he became the first African American graduate of the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television and was the first African American to serve as a producer on a major motion picture.[1][2][3][4]

Ike Jones
Isaac Lolette Jones

(1929-12-23)December 23, 1929
DiedOctober 5, 2014(2014-10-05) (aged 84)
Los Angeles, California, US
EducationSanta Monica High School
Alma materUCLA School of Theater, Film and Television
OccupationFilm producer, actor
Years active1952–1981
Inger Stevens
(m. 1961; died 1970)

Jones was relatively unknown outside of the film industry until 1970 when he publicly announced that he had been secretly married to actress Inger Stevens from 1961 until her death of a drug overdose in April 1970.[5] Jones’ claim was backed up in court by Stevens' brother, Carl O. Stensland.

Early life and education

Jones was born in Santa Monica, California, and attended Santa Monica High School.[5]

He studied motion picture production at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. While at UCLA, he also played end for the Bruins and was named to the 1952 All-Pacific Coast Conference team.[5] After graduating from UCLA, Jones was drafted in the 25th round by the Green Bay Packers in the 1953 NFL Draft, but declined the offer.[5]


In 1953, Jones worked as an actor in bit parts and served as an assistant director on The Joe Louis Story.[6] Later on in the decade, Jones worked as an assistant producer for Hill-Hecht Lancaster Company. After that production company folded, Harry Belafonte hired him as vice president of development for Harbel Productions.[7] In the 1960s, Jones headed Nat King Cole's Kell-Cole Productions.[5] After the singer's death, Jones was hired as a producer on A Man Called Adam, a film starring Sammy Davis Jr. This was the first time that an African American was hired as a producer on a major motion picture.[3][4]

Personal life

On November 8, 1961, Jones and actress Inger Stevens were secretly married in Tijuana, Mexico.[5] The couple agreed to keep their union a secret as to not harm Stevens’ acting career.[8] The demands of their careers meant they spent much time apart, straining their marriage and they eventually separated. In April 1970, while the couple were estranged and living apart, Stevens died of a barbiturate overdose that was eventually ruled a suicide.[5] As Stevens left no will at the time of her death, Jones filed to become administrator of her estate thus making news of the marriage public. Despite being unable to produce a valid marriage license, Superior Court Commissioner A. Edward Nichols ruled in Jones' favor and appointed him administrator of her estate in August 1970. Jones announced that he would use a portion of the $1,171,000 of Stevens’ estate to open a mental health care clinic in Watts, Los Angeles. At the time, Jones managed a chain of convalescent homes.[8]

Around that same time, Jones had made a number of bad investments, straining his finances.[5]

Later years and death

In 1995, he became the first recipient of the Oscar Micheaux Award, presented by the Producers Guild of America.[9]

On October 5, 2014, Jones died "of complications from a stroke and congestive heart failure"[2] in an assisted-living facility in Los Angeles on October 5, 2014. He was 84.[5]


A short street called Ike Jones Road near John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana, California is named for Ike Jones.


  1. Johnson, John H., ed. (October 16, 1952). "Football Player To Pioneer in Hollywood Films". Jet. Chicago, Illinois: Johnson Publishing Company, Inc. 2 (25): 54.
  2. Lentz III, Harris (March 2015). "Obituaries". Classic Images (477): 58.
  3. Johnson, John H., ed. (September 16, 1965). "Ike Jones Set As 1st Negro Producer of Major Film". Jet. Chicago, Illinois: Johnson Publishing Company, Inc. 28 (23): 58.
  4. Tiegel, Eliot (September 11, 1965). Zhito, Lee (ed.). "The Jazz Beat". Billboard. Cincinnati, Ohio: The Billboard Publishing Company. 77 (37): 70.
  5. "Ike Jones dies at 84; pioneering African American film producer". Los Angeles Times. October 11, 2014. Retrieved October 12, 2014.
  6. Johnson, John H., ed. (June 4, 1953). "Ike Jones May Get Role in Play With Eartha Kitt". Jet. Chicago, Illinois: Johnson Publishing Company, Inc. 4 (4): 61.
  7. Johnson, John H., ed. (November 5, 1959). "Ex-UCLA star named to Belafonte's Harbel Film Co". Jet. Chicago, Illinois: Johnson Publishing Company, Inc. 17 (2): 59.
  8. "Rule Ex-Actor Mate of Actress, She Took Own Life". Jet. Johnson Publishing Company. 38 (20): 23. August 20, 1970. ISSN 0021-5996.
  9. Berry, S. Torranio; Berry, Venise T. (2015). Historical Dictionary of African American Cinema (2 ed.). Rowman & Littlefield. p. 247. ISBN 1-442-24702-9.
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