Carolyn Jones: More Than Morticia

Exotic Texas beauty Carolyn Jones (1930-1983) was born on this date. She’ll always be best known for her role as Morticia Addams on The Addams Family (1964-66, and a tv movie in 1977), but this only represents a couple of years out of a career than spanned three decades.

As a prostitute who will soon be murdered and entombed in wax in “House of Wax”

Prior to landing her most famous role, Jones was mostly a supporting player in a wide variety of successful films and had done some television, as well, notably several episodes of Jack Webb’s Dragnet and Alfred Hitchcock Presents (Hitchcock also gave her a role in his 1956 remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much). Horror classics she appeared in included The War of the Worlds (1953), House of Wax (1953) with Vincent Price, and Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). These associations, along with her tiny figure, extraordinary eyes, wonderfully low voice, and mocking, insinuating way with a line, no doubt helped her secure the part of her Morticia.

As the beatnik “Existentialist”

Also relevant was her role as the depressed “Existentialist” in The Bachelor Party (1957), a performance for which she was nominated for an Oscar. She was cast in the film From Here to Eternity (1953) but pneumonia kept her from working so her part went to Donna Reed. While Jones missed working with Frank Sinatra on that occasion, she did appear with him The Tender Trap (1955) and the Frank Capra film A Hole in the Head (1959). She appeared with Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch (1955) and with Elvis Presley in King Creole (1958). And the classic westerns Last Train from Gun Hill (1959) and How the West Was Won (1962). She played the title character’s wife in the gangster picture Baby Face Nelson (1957).

As wife to Mickey Rooney, the titular Baby Face

This was quite a track record of classics — odd how overshadowed it all gets swallowed up by her signature role. After The Addams Family went off the air, she mostly continued to work in television, with only a couple of film roles. Immediately after The Addams Family went off the air she was in a half dozen episodes of Batman as Marsha, Queen of Diamonds.

She played the part of Hippolyta in three episodes of Wonder Woman, had a role in the mini-series Roots (1976), and was in the 3-part The French Atlantic Affair (1979). She was also on The Mod Squad, Love American Style, The Night Stalker, Quincy M.E., The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. It is surely no coincidence that several of these shows were produced by her ex-husband Aaron Spelling. Films included Heaven with a Gun (1969), Color Me Dead (1969), and Eaten Alive (1976).

Carolyn Jones was a regular on the night-time soap Capitol (1982-83) when colon cancer took her at the age of 53.