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The Tragic Life & Death of Carolyn Jones (Morticia from The Addams Family)

When Carolyn Jones joined the cast of the classic television sitcom The Addams Family back in 1964. She didn’t consciously know that she was entering into a situation that would be creating an iconic television character that would be celebrated by audiences around the globe well over half a century later. In fact, her reasons for signing on to the project in the first place were a lot more pragmatic than you might think.

In 1964, she gave a revealing interview where she admitted to doing the series because she desperately needed work at the time. She explained that in her opinion there weren’t a lot of films being produced at the time that she was interested in. And that she had grown tired of sitting around not doing anything.

She admitted to being a bit nervous about doing the series at first but had grown more comfortable with it with time. She shared that comedy was a lot harder for her than drama. But that it was a wonderful ‘change of pace’ for her to try something different out.

In 1965, a year later, but still quite sometime before she fully realized just how big of an impact playing Mortician would have on her life. She shared in another interview that being a part of the show had brought her a whole new set of fans, most of whom were teenagers. Carolyn also briefly addressed the concern of being typecast. She asserted that she was a star in films before she was a TV star and expressed hope that people would remember that about her. Join Facts Verse to learn more about the The Tragic Life & Death of Carolyn Jones.

A Star Is Born: Jones Early Life And Struggles

Long before she was Morticia, she was born Carolyn Sue Jones on April 28, 1930, in Amarillo, Texas. Biographer James Plant wrote in his book Morticia’s Shadow: The Life & Career of Carolyn Jones that she was raised in the West Texas town of Amarillo. And that from an early age she was always a misfit. Jones never really felt like she really fit in with kids her age. 

She was extremely close with her agoraphobic mother, Chloe, but her father, Julius, was barely in the picture. He abandoned his family when Carolyn was still very young and she never actually met him.

Because of her crippling fear of leaving the house, Chloe was never really capable of holding down a job. So Carolyn and her mom ended up living with her grandmother and stepfather who provided for the family. The house they lived in was quite small and cramped.

Carolyn had lung problems when she was a child. She ended up in show business hoping that it would provide her some kind of escape. Because of her condition, she wasn’t allowed to go to the movies, so she would read movie magazines and listen to the radio instead.

She discussed this chapter of her life in a 1961 interview. Carolyn recalled how when she was a child, her health was so poor that she couldn’t even go to school. She wasn’t even well enough to play, so ultimately she had to be educated by tutors. All of her activity back then was more mental than physical due to her limitations.

Acting became her main obsession when she was still quite young. It was something that other young people her age couldn’t really relate to so she became a bit of an outsider. From an early age, she wasn’t lacking in ambition to get out of Amarillo and make her way to Hollywood. She intensely driven to accomplish that goal and she wasn’t about to give up on her dreams.

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And don’t go anywhere just yet. Stick around to see how the iconic role of Morticia Addams came her way and what happened to her career after the Addam’s Family canceled in 1966. Join Facts Verse to learn more about the The Tragic Life & Death of Carolyn Jones.

An Alternate Telling Of Events 

In 1978, Carolyn offered up a very different story of her background to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Although it should be noted that Jones had a reputation for exaggerating and embellishing the truth a bit at times.

She claimed that when she was in the second grade, her teacher informed her mom that she had the gift of ‘natural expression’. And that she could reach all the way to the rear of the classroom when she read books aloud.

Her mom then enrolled her in what called ‘expression lessons’, but that’s not what her grandfather wanted for her. He had always envisioned her becoming a doctor or a lawyer.

But after she performed quite well at declamation in High School, he became to take notice of her gift. Eventually, he took her to Southern Methodist University where she sat down on the steps of the school’s rotunda and broke down in tears. She expressed that her only desire in life was to become an actress. At first, her grandfather protested, but eventually, he gave in and told her that if she must be an actress then at least she should be a professional. And be the best one that she possibly could be. Join Facts Verse to learn more about the The Tragic Life & Death of Carolyn Jones.

From High School Plays To Hollywood Movie Star 

Back in Amarillo, Jones started performing in school plays where she gained a great deal of confidence. She started taking lessons then moved to California where she found her way to the Pasadena Playhouse. That was the moment when everything changed for her. For the first time in her life, she was finally in her own element.

After she graduated from high school in 1947, she enrolled at the Pasadena Playhouse training ground for aspiring thespians. For the next three years, she gave acting her undivided attention. She also appeared in a couple of summer stock productions in Ogunquit, Maine.

But it was while performing at the Pasadena Playhouse when she spotted by talent scouts for Paramount Pictures who immediately signed her to a contract with the studio. Her first credited role in a motion picture was in 1952s The Turning Point. Jones made her television debut on the DuMont series Gruen Playhouse in 1952. Join Facts Verse to learn more about the The Tragic Life & Death of Carolyn Jones.

Jones’ Image Changed Drastically Throughout Her Career

From 1952 to 1956, she appeared in 26 movies including A Hole in the Head alongside Frank Sinatra and King Creole where she co-starred with Elvis Presley. But even though she was developing quite the reputation in show business, earning bigger and better roles was no easy task. One of the things that she had to do if she wanted to keep acting was to get a nose job. And she didn’t have the money for that kind of thing at the time. Fortunately, her grandfather agreed to pay for the procedure.

After her surgery, however, everything changed for the better. Suddenly everyone started treating her differently.

Another major image change that boosted her career was her decision to dye her hair blonde. She recognized that her appearance meant so much when it came to making first impressions. And she was right. As soon as she changed her hair color, she signed to a term contract at Paramount.

Eventually, however, she would re-embrace her natural brunette hair color. When she was a blond, the work came a lot easier but she found that Hollywood was treating her more as a sex icon than an actress. So once she became a brunette once again, she felt like she had come back into her own. Join Facts Verse to learn more about the The Tragic Life & Death of Carolyn Jones.

While the 1950s were very good for her film career. By the time the 1960s came around she had chosen to shift her focus to television. That’s when she became an icon of sorts on The Addams Family. The series premiered in 1964 and featured Jones in a long coal-black wig as the matriarch of the family, Morticia Addams. The role brought her success as a comedian and earned her a Golden Globe Award nomination.

Jones Declining Career, Cancer Diagnosis, and Death 

After The Addams Family ended in 1966, Jone’s career began to decline. She had several sporadic roles in the 1970s including that of Mrs. Mooore, the wife of a plantation owner in the acclaimed mini-series Roots.

In 1981, Jones landed the role of a power-hungry political matriarch named Myrna Clegg in the CBS daytime soap Capitol. A year later, not long after Capitol debuted, Jones diagnosed with colon cancer after experiencing recurring stomach problems. Dealing with the crippling effects of the disease. Jones forced to play many of her scenes in Capitol in a wheelchair.

After a short period of remission, her cancer returned with a vengeance in 1982. The cancer rapidly spread to her liver and stomach. But despite being in a tremendous amount of pain, she finished up shooting the show’s first season.

In July of 1983, Jones fell into a coma while she was at her home in West Hollywood, California. She died a month later on August 3, 1983. Her body cremated the following day and a memorial service was held at Glasband-Willen Mortuary in Altadena, California on August 5, 1983.

Alright, well we’re just about out of time for this video, but hopefully, you’ve enjoyed learning a bit more about this iconic and talented actress with us. She may have passed away almost 40 years ago, but her memory lives on. 

Her story should serve as inspiration for those of you out there that might feel held back by some of your physical or financial limitations. Jones would have never become the success story that she inevitably became if she hadn’t fought so hard to achieve her dreams.

Anyway, now’s your turn to let your voice be heard. In the comments section below let us know which similarly themed sitcom you liked the most. The Addams Family or The Munsters.

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