If her name came up in a sitcom category on JEOPARDY, it would be connected to THE ADDAMS FAMILY, the entertaining ABC sitcom in the 1960s based on the highly popular magazine cartoons from Charles Addams about a ghoulish and bizarre but loving family. With her oval-shaped face, expressive eyes, high forehead and the hipster vibe she could so deliciously project, Carolyn Jones was perfect to play Morticia Addams in the network TV series.
She had a larger part, a supporting role, opposite Frank Sinatra in A HOLE IN THE HEAD as the sexy free spirit who digs having the single dad as a playmate but is frustrated by his being anchored by commitments. He can't be a free spirit too. He has a little boy. In those two roles, notice that she's not a raven-haired female like Morticia.
What I wrote about her ability to take a small role and make it stand out was evident in her first big screen assignment. She's a brassy, sassy, smart blonde in 1952's THE TURNING POINT starring William Holden and Alexis Smith. In 1953's HOUSE OF WAX, she's Cathy, the blonde friend who gets coated in wax by the psycho villain. In Billy Wilder's 1955 comedy, THE SEVEN YEAR ITCH, the middle-aged, ordinary married man has short Thurber-like mental fantasies while his wife's away on vacation on the Marilyn Monroe character is renting a room upstairs in his building. In one, he's a hospital patients who arouses the uncontrollable lust of a redheaded night nurse. She's so lusty that security has to carry her out of the hospital room against her will. That screaming redheaded nurse was played by Carolyn Jones.
This week, I watched another Carolyn Jones performance that I first saw on TV during my L.A. youth. It's my favorite of her screen performances. She was a dogwalker for a theatrical agent in THE TENDER TRAP. In Paramount's 1959 drama, CAREER, she plays a theatrical agent. She's a brunette in this one and she just about steals the picture. No small feat considering the stars are Anthony Franciosa, Dean Martin and Shirley MacLaine. Franciosa is the likeable, talented actor who won't compromise, won't play the game and is so obsessed with his career that his personal life suffers. When we meet him, he's a waiter in a Broadway restaurant. There's a touch of gray in his hair. He's still going to auditions. We see his life in flashback when someone who is obviously special to him from his past enters the restaurant for dinner.
TCM should show Carolyn Jones in...
THE TURNING POINT (1952)
HOUSE OF WAX (1953)
INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956)
THE BACHELOR PARTY (1957)
KING CREOLE starring Elvis Presley (1958)
MARJORIE MORNINGSTAR (1958)
A HOLE IN THE HEAD (1959)
ICE PALACE (1960)
A TICKLISH AFFAIR (1963)
Reportedly, there was serious interest in Carolyn Jones playing Alma in 1953's classic, FROM HERE TO ETERNITY. A case of pneumonia took Jones out of consideration. Donna Reed got the role and the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Wow. Jones also could've been powerful as Alma in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY. Hollywood should have utilized the impressive Carolyn Jones skills way more than it did in good supporting and lead roles. There was a passion, intelligence, honesty, depth, wit and spark that lit up her performances.
The versatile and talented Carolyn Jones was taken from us way too early. She succumbed to colon cancer at age 53 in 1983.
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