Dean Jones, the exceptional Disney actor who played in movies such as “The Love Bug,” “The Darn Cat!” and “The Million Dollar Duck,” died on Tuesday, September 3. At the time of his death, Jones was 84. His publicist said that the cause of death was Parkinson’s disease.
The actor first featured in 1956’s “Somebody Up There Likes Me,” then the next year he appeared in “Jailhouse Rock,” alongside Elvis Presley. Jones also appeared in a couple of Broadway shows such as “There Was a Little Girl” and “Under the Yum-Yum Tree,” which later in 1963 was adapted into a film starring Jack Lemmon.
Although his career was already prolific by the time he joined Disney, it is in the film collaborations with this studio where Jones had his greatest success as an actor. The actor usually played the role of witty fathers or dreamy leading characters.
“That Darn Cat!” (1965) was his Disney debut film, in which Jones played a secret agent who had to solve a kidnapping case with the help of Disney regular actress – Hayley Mills. He then proceeded with a successful chain of Disney efforts: 1967’s “Monkeys, Go Home!,” 1968’s “The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit,” and last but not least, the incredibly popular 1969’s hit “The Love Bug”.
The movie, which was also known as “Herbie The Love Bug” in Europe, is about a cute Volkswagen Beetle with a mind of its own. The concept was so popular among audiences the producers decided to spawn four sequels.
After Dean Jones starred in a number of not quite successful movies in the 1970s, he returned to the stage in the 1980s in one of his most appreciated Broadway roles – “St. Jones in Exile”.
Jones was in a 42 years marriage with his wife, Lory Basham Jones. At the time o his death the actor had three children and eight grandchildren. The Disney actor was born in 1931, in Decatur, Alabama. Jones is also known as the founder of Christian Rescue Fund, which he decided to found after a drunken car accident that almost put an end to his life.
Photo credits: trbimg