Joe Leahy Orchestra
St. James Infirmary
88 Brand Records
Dean Carroll Jones (1931-2015)
After serving in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War, Dean Jones got a job acting in a melodrama at Knott's Berry Farm. He was spotted by veteran composer Vernon Duke, who was planning a musical. The musical project fell through, but Duke enabled Jones an audition with Arthur Freed, the famous producer of MGM feature film musicals such as "Singin' In the Rain." It did not go as planned. "He's an actor, not singer!" Arthur Freed exclaimed. Still, the studio signed Jones, and in his first credited role, he found himself acting opposite James Cagney in the 1956 drama "These Wilder Years."
Dean had mostly small roles of a far grittier nature than his later Disney fare. "I played drug addicts, pimps, hard-cased killers, ex-cons and angry young men," he told The Times in 1995.
Beginning with 1965's "That Darn Cat!," Dean became closely identified with Disney family fare. In addition to the "Love Bug" and "The Ugly Dachshund," he was the leading man in "Monekys, Go Home," "The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit," "The Million Dollar Duck," "The Shaggy D.A.," "Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo" and other Disney feature films.
But in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he was leading an off-screen life contrary to his wholesome image. He had numerous affairs and was drinking heavily. "I had thought if I became a star I'd be happy," he said in a 1976 L.A.Times interview. "I had thought if I had a fairly large amount of money I'd be happy. I thought if I had a house on a hill I'd be happy. I thought if I had a Ferrari I'd be happy. One goal after another was accomplished. And with no fulfillment." Jones was able to keep his torment largely separated from his work life. Even the head of the studio was fooled. "I remember having lunch with Walt one day, and he told me, 'Dean, you're a perfect fit for these pictures. You're such a good family man!'" Jone's told the Pantagraph. "I wasn't a good family man," Jones said. "I was showing up at home smelling of perfume that wasn't my wife's.".
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