Carolyn Sue Jones (April 28, 1930 – August 3, 1983) was an American actress.
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 in the television series The Addams Family, receiving a Golden Globe Award nomination for her work.
Jones was born in Amarillo, Texas, the daughter of Cloe Jeanette Southern, a housewife, and Julius Alfred Jones, a barber. In 1934 her father abandoned the family and her mother moved with her two children to her parents' home in Amarillo. Carolyn suffered from severe asthma that often restricted her from childhood activities. She was an avid reader, and loved Hollywood magazines. When her condition permitted she loved to go to the movies. After her graduation, her grandfather agreed to pay her tuition to the Pasadena Playhouse. Therefore, she moved to California in 1947 to pursue her acting career.
Jones secured a contract with Paramount Pictures and made her first film in 1952. In 1953, she married aspiring film-maker Aaron Spelling. She appeared in several episodes of Dragnet, credited as Caroline Jones in at least one episode; had an uncredited 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, brought her good reviews. In 1954 she played Beth in Shield For Murder, earning $500.00 per day for playing the role.
She was cast in From Here to Eternity, for the role of Karen Holmes, which was written for Carolyn, but a bout with pneumonia forced her to withdraw.
Jones made her TV 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. 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, 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.
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.
Jones appeared in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Alfred Hitchcock's remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for The Bachelor Party. In 1958, she shared a Golden Globe Award for "Most Promising Newcomer" with Sandra Dee and Diane Varsi, and appeared with Elvis Presley in King Creole.
In 1959, she 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. By 1963, she and Spelling were separated, and by 1964 they were divorced.
She appeared three times as a guest star in the TV series Wagon Train, in the first season (1957) episode "The John Cameron Story," and in the later color episodes "The Jenna Albright Story" (1961) and "The Molly Kincaid Story" (1963).
In 1964, with a long coal black wig, Jones began playing Morticia Addams in the television series The Addams Family, a role which brought her success as a comedienne and a Golden Globe Award nomination. She guest-starred on the 1960s TV series Batman, playing Marsha, the Queen of Diamonds, and in 1976 appeared as the title character's mother, Hippolyta, on the Wonder Woman TV series. Her last role was the scheming matriarch of Clegg Clan, Myrna in the soap opera "Capitol".
Jones wrote a novel titled Twice Upon a Time in 1971, which was 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.
Personal life and illness
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.
Jones landed the role of the power-driven political matriarch Myrna Clegg in the CBS daytime television 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. The cancer spread quickly to her liver and stomach. Despite the pain, Carolyn finished the first season.
Carolyn Jones was married four times. While studying at the Pasadena Playhouse, Jones married Don Donaldson, a twenty-eight-year-old fellow student. The couple soon divorced. Jones subsequently married television producer Aaron Spelling from 1953 until 1964; Jones converted to Judaism when she married Spelling.
She was married to Tony Award-winning Broadway musical director, vocal arranger and co-producer Herbert Greene (who was her vocal coach) from 1968 until their divorce in 1977.
Seeing that the end was near, in September 1982, Carolyn wed 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.
Jones was diagnosed with colon cancer in March 1981. She had vomited blood, and when doctors did tests, they discovered that cancer had ravaged her colon, and spread to her liver. Surgeons removed two-thirds of her colon, and Carolyn continued on the best she could. She told friends that she was having treatments for ulcers.
In the meantime, Carolyn quietly went through treatment. She worked during the day, and went to the hospital for chemotherapy at night. No one knew. She 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.
In July 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.