Carolyn Jones

Before catching the world’s attention as Morticia Addams in America’s first spooky family comedy television series, Carolyn Jones starred in dozens of films and blazed a place in several projects set in the Wild West.

Caroyln Jones was born in Amarillo, Texas, on April 28, 1930. Life was tough at home in her early years, as her father deserted the family, leaving Jones, her younger sister, and her mother to move in with Jones’ grandparents. As a young girl, Jones suffered from severe asthma, which prevented her from many childhood activities. But with being less physically active, Jones turned to Hollywood magazines. This inspired her to leave the big state of Texas and become an actress, just like the ones she read about.

At age 17, she got her big chance. She enrolled in the esteemed Pasadena Playhouse, largely through the support of her grandfather, who paid her tuition. While at the Playhouse, she married her first husband, Don Donaldson, in 1950, but they divorced shortly after in 1951.

After graduating from the Playhouse, Jones was looking to get her first break in Hollywood. Her first movie role came in 1952’s organized crime film The Turning Point, but she was uncredited. She made several movies and gained momentum after her small role in the 1953 film House of Wax, the second movie ever released in 3D. In 1954, she starred in the Western film Three Hours To Kill. As her movie career was taking flight, she married her second husband, producer Aaron Spelling (1953 to 1964).

Jones landed parts in several films and television series in the mid-1950s, leading to one of her biggest roles in the 1957 film The Bachelor Party. Her performance earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress and a Golden Globe nomination.

Carolyn Jones in Last Train From Gun HillJones’ star began rising fast. She landed a part in 1958’s King Creole starring opposite Elvis Pressley. Jones also starred alongside several notable actors of the time, including Kirk Douglas in 1959’s Western Last Train From Gun Hill. Several years later, Jones followed up with the iconic 1963 Western How the West Was Won, playing a sheriff’s wife who was navigating new life and risky times in the Wild West.

Her iconic role was not far away. In 1964, Jones donned a long black wig and was cast in the new ABC television comedy series The Addams Family, playing the role of Morticia Addams. This was an adaptation of a cartoon about an unconventional, quirky family where audiences could enjoy their outlandish and bizarre adventures and lifestyle. While the series only lasted two seasons, it cemented its place in pop culture, with people wanting more. Decades later, several reboots of The Addams Family franchise have been created in television, films, cartoon series, to even a broadway show.

After The Addams Family wrapped in 1964, the number of Hollywood roles dwindled for Jones. Her performance as Morticia Addams was ingrained in audiences, and she was typecast. Jones found more work in small roles on television series, including Western shows Rango in 1967 and 1971’s The Men From Shiloh. She acted in four more films, including 1969’s Western Heaven with a Gun. She previously had small parts in several episodes on television Westerns Zane Grey Theater and Wagon Train. As her career was slowing down, Jones married her third husband, music director Herbert Greene in 1968, but they later divorced in 1977.

Jones’ final roles were in the 1979 film Good luck, Ms. Wyckoff, and the CBS soap opera Capitol in 1982. Sadly, after filming, she was diagnosed with colon cancer. Determined to play her role, Jones filmed many episodes in a wheelchair when the pain was too much. As she faced the end of her life, she married her fourth husband, Peter Bailey-Britton, in September 1982. On August 4, 1983, Jones passed away at age 53.

Jones’ lifetime of work resembles dedication and toughness to pursuing her biggest dreams, despite any challenges that came up. For 30 years, she dazzled both the big screen and small screen, fighting hard in many Western films, like she did to continue her Hollywood career.