Sunday, 5 May 2013

Whatever Happened To...Carolyn Jones?

She frolicked with Crosby and Hope in The Road To Bali, played Miss Finch in The Seven Year Itch and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in The Bachelor Party, but she will always be best remembered for her role as Morticia in the cult TV comedy series The Addams Family.

Carolyn Sue Jones was born April 28th 1930 in Amarillo, Texas, the daughter of Cloe Southern and Julius Jones. Her father abandoned the family when Carolyn was small and her mother moved them to live with her parents. Carolyn suffered from severe asthma which curtailed many childhood pursuits but it was then that her love of reading, and of the movies, was nurtured.

Determined to become an actress, in 1947 she moved to California and made her first film  - The Turning Point - in 1952, while under contract to Paramount. The following year, she married the second of her four husbands, the film-maker Aaron Spelling, for whom she converted to Judaism. Her first marriage had taken place when she was studying performing arts at the legendary Pasadena Playhouse. It was soon over but her marriage to Spelling lasted until 1964.

Carolyn's career started to take off and she appeared in several episodes of Dragnet and also began to get roles in films such as Road to Bali, The War of the Worlds, House of Wax, The Big Heat and The Seven Year Itch. Her Academy Award Nomination was in 1957, and in 1958, she shared a Golden Globe for Most Promising Newcomer with Diane Varsi and Sandra Dee. That same year, she appeared in King Creole with Elvis Presley.

Having already appeared in a number of TV shows in the Fifties, the Sixties saw her most memorable role. The Addams Family characters were based on the cartoons of Charles Addams, which appeared in The New Yorker. It  ran for a total of 64 episodes - all in black and white - from 1964-1966. 

Carolyn played Morticia as a true Vamp, with dramatic hair, make-up and wardrobe.When aroused,Morticia emitted smoke from her body. She could light candles with her fingers, and had a strange taste in floral arrangements ("Oh, the thorns are lovely this year"). Her husband, Gomez, adored her passionately, while Morticia regarded everything with an aristocratic disdain. Carolyn was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance.

Unforgettable in this role, sadly, she was never to achieve such dizzy heights of fame again and her career began to decline.

In 1971, she drew heavily from her own life and experiences and wrote a novel - Twice Upon A Time. The story concerns a glamorous movie star - Susan Maxwell - and centres on her work, life and romances.

Following her divorce from Aaron Spelling, Carolyn was married again in 1968 to her vocal coach, the Tony Award winning Broadway musical director, Herbert Greene. They divorced in 1977.

Throughout the Seventies, Carolyn continued to find parts on many long running TV shows such as The Love Boat, Quincy M.E. and Fantasy Island. She also landed the role of Mrs Moore - the plantation owner's wife - in Roots. But the work did not flood in and her appearances were sporadic.

In 1981, she was diagnosed with colon cancer, just as she had achieved a role as a power-hungry political matriarch in CBS daytime soap, Capitol. Her cancer quickly spread to her liver and stomach but, despite having to play many scenes in a wheelchair, she completed the first season. She kept her illness secret, telling friends she was being treated for ulcers.

Realising her illness was terminal, she married her longtime boyfriend, fellow actor, Peter Bailey-Britton, in September 1982, covering her head with a lace and ribbon cap to hide the hair loss caused by chemotherapy.

In July 1983, she slipped into a coma at home and died there on August 3rd of the same year. She is buried next to her mother, in Melrose Abbey Memorial Park Cemetery in Anaheim, California.

Carolyn may be gone, but we will always have Morticia:


  1. Thanks for this. She was great!

  2. Antonia...another fav the lovely Mrs Addams and Miss Jones.

    1. Thought you might approve, Shehanne! Thanks