The Turning Point
Road to Bali
Make Haste to Live
The Saracen Blade
Shield for Murder
Three Hours to Kill
The Tender Trap
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
The Opposite Sex
The Bachelor Party
Baby Face Nelson
The Man in the Net
Last Train from Gun Hill
A Hole in the Head
Sail a Crooked Ship
A Ticklish Affair
Heaven with a Gun
Color Me Dead
Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff
Carolyn Jones was born April 28, 1930 in Amarillo, Texas, the daughter of Chloe Jeanette Southern a housewife, and Julius Alfred Jones, a barber. After her father abandoned the family in 1934, Carolyn and her younger sister, Bette Rhea Jones, moved with their mother into her parents’ Amarillo home. Jones suffered from severe asthma that often restricted her childhood activities, and when her condition prevented her from going to the movies, she became an avid reader of Hollywood fan magazines and aspired to become an actress. She enrolled at the Pasadena Playhouse in California at seventeen, with her grandfather, Charles W. Baker, paying her tuition.
After being spotted by a talent scout at the Playhouse, Jones secured a contract with Paramount Pictures and made her first film, The Turning Point, in 1952. In 1953, she married aspiring filmmaker Aaron Spelling. She appeared in several episodes of Dragnet, credited as Caroline Jones in at least one episode; had an uncredited bit part as a nightclub hostess in The Big Heat, and a role in House of Wax as the woman who is converted by Vincent Price into a Joan of Arc statue. In 1954, she played Beth in Shield for Murder, earning $500 per day for playing the role.
Jones was cast in the film From Here to Eternity (1953) in the role of Alma “Lorene” Burke, which was written for her. However, a bout with pneumonia forced her to withdraw; the role earned Donna Reed the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Jones made her television debut on the DuMont series Gruen Playhouse in 1952. She guest starred on numerous television shows throughout the 1950s.
In 1956, Jones appeared in Invasion of the Body Snatchers and in Alfred Hitchcock’s remake of his own film, The Man Who Knew Too Much.
In 1958, Jones was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for The Bachelor Party, and she also shared a Golden Globe Award for “Most Promising Newcomer” with Sandra Dee and Diane Varsi, and appeared with Elvis Presley in King Creole.
In 1959, Jones played opposite Frank Sinatra in Frank Capra’s A Hole in the Head, Dean Martin in Career, and Anthony Quinn and Kirk Douglas in Last Train from Gun Hill.
In the epic Western, How The West Was Won (1963), she played the role of Sheriff Jeb Rawlings’ (George Peppard) wife. She appears with Peppard and Debbie Reynolds in the last speaking/singing scenes of the film.
In 1964, using a long coal-black wig, the brunette Jones began playing Morticia Addams on the television series The Addams Family, a role which brought her success as a comedian and a Golden Globe Award nomination. She guest-starred on the 1960s TV series Batman, playing Marsha, the Queen of Diamonds, and in 1976 appeared as the title character’s mother, Hippolyta, on the Wonder Woman TV series. In 1977 she played a madam running a rural whorehouse in Tobe Hooper’s follow-up movie after The Texas Chain Saw Massacre which was Eaten Alive, and featured Neville Brand, Roberta Collins, and Robert Englund.
Jones landed the role of the power-driven political matriarch Myrna Clegg in the CBS daytime soap opera Capitol in 1981. The following year, shortly after Capitol debuted, she was diagnosed with colon cancer, and played many of her scenes in a wheelchair. The cancer spread quickly to her liver and stomach. Despite the pain, Carolyn finished the first season.
Jones was married four times. While studying at the Pasadena Playhouse, Jones married Don Donaldson, a 28-year-old fellow student. The couple soon divorced. Jones was subsequently married to television producer Aaron Spelling from 1953 until their 1964 separation and divorce; Jones converted to Judaism when she married Spelling.
Her third marriage, in 1968, was to Tony Award-winning Broadway musical director, vocal arranger and co-producer Herbert Greene (who was her vocal coach); she left him in 1977.
After a period of apparent remission, the cancer returned in 1982. Realizing she was dying, Jones married her boyfriend of five years, actor Peter Bailey-Britton. She wore a lace and ribbon cap to hide the loss of her hair from chemotherapy.
In July 1983, she fell into a coma at her home in West Hollywood, California, where she died on August 3, 1983. She is buried at Melrose Abbey memorial park in Anaheim, CA.