After a four-year hitch with the Air Corps, Dean Jones worked the nightclub and cabaret circuit as a blues singer. It was, however, as an actor that Jones was signed to an MGM contract in 1956; he spent the next four years essaying showy supporting roles in films like Tea and Sympathy (1956), Jailhouse Rock (1957) and Torpedo Run (1958). He made his first Broadway appearance in 1960, then went on to star in the TV service sitcom Ensign O'Toole (1962). Jones spent the next several years in light leading-man assignments in such Disney fare as The Ugly Dachshund (1965) The Love Bug (1968) and The Boatniks (1970). He returned to TV in 1970 as host of What's It All About World (1969), then scored a Broadway hit as the central character in the Steven Sondheim musical Company. In 1971, it was back to sitcom-land with the 13-week TVer Chicago Teddy Bears. Throughout the 1970s, Jones became increasingly involved in religious activities; this was reflected to a large degree in his sincere portrayal of Charles Colson in Born Again (1978). He made yet another TV comeback in Disney's Herbie the Love Bug in 1982, the same year that he published his autobiography, Under Running Laughter. Dean Jones remained busy as a film character actor into the 1990s, most delightfully in the atypical role of the vivisection-happy villain in Beethoven (1992).
by Hal Erickson biography