Carolyn Sue Jones was born April 28, 1930 in Amarillo, Texas.
Her father was a barber, and in 1934 left, forcing Jones and her mother to move in with her mothers parents.
Jones suffered from severe asthma that often restricted her from childhood activities. As a result, she became an avid reader, loved the movies, and enjoyed reading Hollywood entertainment magazines.
After her high school graduation in 1947, Jones begged her mother to allow her to attend the Pasadena Playhouse and study acting. Her grandfather agreed to pay her tuition and follow her dream.
So with a smile and determination Jones moved to California to pursue her acting career.
Upon graduating from the Playhouse, Jones secured a contract with Paramount Pictures.
Jones made her TV debut on the series Gruen Playhouse in 1952.
The first Hollywood film Jones appeared in was The Turning Point, a 1952 crime drama starring William Holden and Edmond O’Brien.
She followed that up with a small film role in Road to Bali, a 1952 American comedy directed by Hal Walker and starring Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Dorothy Lamour.
Then in 1953, Jones married aspiring film-maker Aaron Spelling.
She made several appearances on television shows, including several episodes of Dragnet, credited as Caroline Jones in at least one episode; had a bit part as a nightclub hostess in The Big Heat, and a role in House of Wax, as the woman who is converted by Vincent Price into a Joan of Arc statue, all of which brought Jones good reviews.
Carolyn Jones was cast in the famous film From Here to Eternity for the role of Karen Holmes, which was written for Carolyn Jones. A bout of pneumonia, however, forced her to withdraw at the last minute.
Then in 1954, Jones played Beth in Shield For Mother, earning her $500 per day.
She also appeared in two Rod Cameron syndicated series, City Detective and State Trooper, as Betty Fowler in the 1956 episode, “The Paperhanger of Pioche”.
Jones guest-starred in Ray Milland’s CBS sitcom, Meet Mr. McNutley.
In 1955, Jones appeared on the CBS anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents in the episode “The Cheney Vase” as a secretary assisting her scheming boyfriend Darren McGavin in attempting an art theft, and opposite Ruta Lee.
In 1957, Jones was cast in the lead for the episode “The Girl in the Grass” on CBS’s Schlitz Playhouse, with once again Ray Milland and Nora Marlowe.
Also in 1957, Jones was cast as a party girl who was actually very lonely in the film The Bachelor Party staring Don Murray and E.G. Marshal and Jack Warden. For that role, Carolyn Jones was nominated for the 1958 Best Supporting Actress Academy Award.
In 1958, Jones shared a Golden Globe Award as one of the most promising actresses with Sandra Dee and Diane Varsi.
That same year she appeared with Elvis Presley in the film King Creole.
In 1959, Jones played opposite Frank Sinatra in Frank Capra’s A Hole in the Head, Dean Martin in Career, and Anthony Quinn in Last Train from Gun Hill.
In 1960, she guest starred with James Best and Jack Mullaney in the episode “Love on Credit” of CBS’s anthology series The DuPont Show with June Allyson, a Four Star Television production.
During the 1962-1963 season, Jones guest starred on CBS’s The Lloyd Bridges Show, which her husband Spelling created. She also appeared on the NBC program, Here’s Hollywood.
By 1963, Jones and Aaron Spelling were separated, and they divorced in 1964.
Then, with a long coal black wig, Carolyn Jones was cast as Morticia Addams for the television series The Addams Family.
Jones received a Golden Globe Award nomination for her portrayal of the beautiful wife and mother who dabbled in art, raised flesh-eating plants, and trimmed roses by clipping off the buds and arranging the stems in a vase, saying “Oh, the thorns are lovely this year.” The Addams Family aired 64 episodes from 1964 – 1966, and lives on in popular reruns.
Jones also guest-starred in the TV series Batman, playing Marsha, the Queen of Diamonds.
Jones then went on to write a novel titled Twice Upon a Time in 1971, published by Trident Press. The story follows the life of Susan Maxwell, a “glamorous movie star” through her work as an actress and through her romances. There are similarities with this character and Jones herself, as it explores Hollywood life, as well as the character’s roots in Texas; Jones herself was raised in Texas.
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 Roots mini-series.
Her last role was the scheming matriarch of the Clegg Clan, Myrna in the 1981 daytime soap opera “Capitol”.
Shortly after Capitol debuted, Jones was diagnosed with colon cancer. The cancer spread quickly to her liver and stomach. Despite the pain, Carolyn Jones finished the season.
No one knew. Jones kept her illness a complete secret. It seemed that the cancer had gone into remission, but in late 1982 it returned and spread. Treatments were ineffective.
Seeing that the end was near, in September 1982, Carolyn Jones married her boyfriend of five years, actor Peter Bailey-Britton. She wore a lace and ribbon cap to hide the fact that she lost her hair to chemotherapy. The wedding was attended by John Astin, Jim Backus, June Allyson, Sally Struthers, Red Buttons, and most of the cast of Capitol.
In July of 1983, Carolyn fell into a coma in her home in West Hollywood, California. She died there on August 3, 1983, with her husband at her side. She was 53. Her body was entombed at Melrose Abbey Memorial Park Cemetery in Anaheim, California, beside her mother.
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