Full Name: Shirley Mae Jones
Birthdate: March 31, 1934
Birthplace: Charleroi, Pennsylvania
Known for: entertainer and performer
Shirley Mae Jones (born March 31, 1934) is an entertainer and performer from the United States. Over the course of her 60 years in the entertainment industry, she has played pleasant roles in films including Oklahoma! (1955), Carousel (1956), and The Music Man (1959). (1962). For her role as an angry harlot in Elmer Gantry, she won an Oscar Award for Best Supporting Actress (1960). she co-starred with her actual stepson David Cassidy, son of Jack Cassidy, as Shirley Partridge, the divorced mother of 5 kids in the 1970s musical family sitcom The Partridge Family (1970-1974).
Jones was conceived on March 31, 1934, in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, to Marjorie (née Williams), a housewife, and Paul Jones, the proprietors of the Jones Brewing Company. His parents were devout Methodists. Jones’ paternal grandpa was a Welsh immigrant. Shirley Temple was the inspiration for her name.
Jones claims that her middle name has been mistakenly attributed to vaudeville and cinema queen Mae West, when in fact it was given to her by her aunt. When Jones first met a famous person, it just so happened to be West, who was playing at Rostraver’s Twin Coaches cocktail lounge in 1954.
Later on, the family relocated to Smithton, Pennsylvania, a tiny hamlet nearby. Jones started singing in the Methodist Church choir at the age of six and studied voice under Ralph Lewando. She was engaged in drama classes while attending South Huntingdon High School in Ruffs Dale, Pennsylvania.
Jones was crowned Miss Pittsburgh in 1952.
To get a job with Rodgers and Hammerstein, she had to go via casting director John Fearnley, who held open casting calls every two weeks. Rodgers and Hammerstein were unknown to Jones at the time. Fearnley was so taken aback that he dashed across the street to see Richard Rodgers, who was practising with a band for a new musical. Rodgers then dialled Oscar Hammerstein’s number from his residence. Jones had a lot of potential for the two of them. She was the first and only vocalist ever to be signed to a professional contract with the composers. She was originally cast in a supporting part in the film South Pacific. She began as a chorus girl and then an understudy for the main part in her second Broadway production, Me and Juliet, where she received acclaim in Chicago.
Due to her well-trained singing voice, Jones was cast as the film’s female lead, and she made a lasting impression on Rodgers and Hammerstein. As a result of her success in further musical comedies like Carousel (1956), April Love (1957), and The Music Man (1962), she became a bit of a cinematic stereotype. She did, however, win an Academy Award in 1960 for her role as a lady ruined by the eponymous character portrayed by Burt Lancaster in Elmer Gantry. Her character evolves into a prostitute who runs into her temptress years later and learns the truth about him. Richard Brooks, the director, had first opposed her inclusion in the film, but after viewing her first performance, he informed her she would win an Award for her performance. In The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, she reconnected with actor Ron Howard (who had previously played her brother in The Music Man) after many years apart (1963). Jones was cast in Fluffy as a lady who went on a date with the professor (1965).
She has collaborated with several of Hollywood’s biggest names, including Jimmy Stewart, Gene Kelly, Marlon Brando, James Cagney, Henry Fonda, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and director John Ford, over her movie career.
Jones married Jack Cassidy, an actor and singer, on August 5th, 1956 in Los Angeles, California. They had three sons: Shaun, Patrick, and Ryan. Jack’s first wife, actress Evelyn Ward, had a son, David Cassidy, who became her stepson. Following her divorce from comedian and actor Marty Ingels in 1975, Jones married another comedian, actor and writer, in 1977. Shirley & Marty: An Unlikely Love Story, written by Jones and Ingels, is an autobiography about their love. Despite their polar opposite personalities and several separations (she filed for divorce in 2002 but later withdrew it), the couple stayed wed till Ingels died of a major stroke on October 21, 2015. “He often drove me insane,” Jones recalled after his death, “but there’s not a day I won’t forget him and adore him to my bones.”
Gordon MacRae and his ex-wife Sheila were friends of Jones’s, and he was designated godfather to her first son, Shaun. She also admits to having a crush on MacRae and being star-struck while working on Oklahoma! She claims she was the one who persuaded MacRae to reprise his role as Billy Bigelow in Carousel, in which they collaborated for the second time. At one point in the production, Frank Sinatra was set to star, but he withdrew due to the need to shoot each scene twice, once in CinemaScope 55 (55-mm, 6-track stereo system) and once in 35-mm CinemaScope.