Actress Carolyn Jones was born in Amarillo, Potter County, Texas on April 28, 1930 to Chloe Jeanette Southern and Julius Alfred Jones. Her parents separated during the early days of the Depression and her mother and younger sibling lived with her mother’s birth mother and her husband. Carolyn’s mother had been born in Texas and adopted by a family named the Southerns. The last name of Carolyn’s birth mother and her husband was Baker. As a child Carolyn is said to have suffered from asthma but did well in theater and speech in high school. Her love for films led her to go to California and be accepted into acting school, and she graduated in 1950. Some sources give her date of birth to be 1933 leading to the possible conclusion that she was underage when she left Texas for California to begin acting school. However, various newspaper accounts state that she graduated from Amarillo High School in 1947.
Her first feature film was a Paramount Pictures crime drama named “Turning Point” in 1952, a role in which she was uncredited, along with dozens of other actors. This was followed by two other uncredited roles before she appeared the following year for a part in a Vincent Price horror film called “House of Wax.” She continued to work steadily in television and film in various productions before being chosen to play the role of Morticia Addams in the television series The Addams Family which ran for three seasons during 1964, 1965 and 1966.
The Addams Family was a quirky, satirical comedy that originated from a series of cartoons in The New Yorker magazine by artist Charles Addams. In the series, the macabre Addams family carries on their daily lives, seemingly unaware that their nature and lifestyle is different from the other American families with which they interact. Though this premise might seem odd today, it could also be viewed as being similar to numerous successful television situation comedies, including the Beverly Hillbillies. Carolyn appeared in 64 episodes before the series ended. Although it might have resulted in typecasting her, she continued to act, primarily in television, until her death in 1983. During her long career, she appeared in a wide variety of productions, including westerns, comedies and dramas. Her final role was in the daytime series Capitol in which she was appearing when she became ill after having been diagnosed with colon cancer.
Carolyn was married four times: to Don Donaldson in the 1950s, to Texas born Aaron Spelling for about 12 years from 1953 to 1964, to Herbert Green from about 1968 to 1977 and finally to Peter Bailey-Britton. She had no children from any of these marriages.
Carolyn remained close to her mother and sister Bette all her life and was able to move them from Texas to California when she became successful. She died on August 3, 1983 after a battle with cancer. Her remains were cremated and interred in a crypt for her mother at Melrose Abbey Memorial Park in Anaheim, California. Her Associated Press obituary stated that she had come to the hospital two months prior but returned home.
In her long career, Carolyn had appeared in about 30 feature films and many television series. Her film co-stars included Marlon Brando, Vincent Price, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Richart Burton, Glenn Ford and many others. Television series in which she appeared in more than one episode included Dragnet, Zane Grey Theater, Wagon Train, the Dick Powell Show, Dr. Kildare, The Addams Family, Batman, Ironside, Wonder Woman and Capitol.
Carolyn was nominated for an Academy Award for her short role in “The Bachelor Party” and a Golden Globe award for her appearance in Burke’s Law. She won a Golden Globe award in 1957 for her role in the film “Marjorie Morningstar.”
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