A singer almost from the time she learned to talk, American actress Shirley Jones was entered by her vocal coach in the Miss Pittsburgh contest at age 18. The attendant publicity led Jones to an audition with Rodgers and Hammerstein for potential stage work. Much taken by Jones' beautifully trained voice, the producers cast her as the leading lady in the expensive, prestigious film production of their theatrical smash Oklahoma! (1955). In 1956 Jones starred in another Rodgers and Hammerstein film adaptation, Carousel; this and her first film tended to limit her to sweet, peaches 'n' cream roles for the next several years. Thankfully, and with the full support of director Richard Brooks, Jones was able to break away from her screen stereotype with her role as a vengeful prostitute in Elmer Gantry (1960) -- a powerfully flamboyant performance that won her an Academy Award. Alas, filmgoers preferred the "nice" Shirley, and it was back to goody-goody roles in such films as The Music Man (1962) and A Ticklish Affair (1963) -- though critics heartily praised Jones' performances in these harmless confections. It was again for Brooks that Shirley had her next major dramatic film role, in 1969's The Happy Ending, which represented one of her last movie appearances before her four-year TV stint as the glamorous matriarch of The Partridge Family. This popular series did less for Shirley than it did for her stepson, teen idol David Cassidy, but The Partridge Family is still raking in ratings (and residuals) on the rerun circuit. Her unhappy marriage to the late actor Jack Cassidy long in the past, Jones found domestic stability as the wife of actor/agent Marty Ingels, with whom she wrote a refreshingly candid dual biography. The actress also played a recurring character on The Drew Carey Show (1998-1999), and appeared in numerous documentaries throughout the 2000s. Jones had a supporting role in 2006's Grandma's Boy, and guest roles on shows like Cougar Town and Raising Hope.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Her parents named her after Shirley Temple.
- Her grandfather, William B. Jones, founded the Jones Brewing Company in Smithton, PA, in 1907.
- Was Miss Pittsburgh in 1952.
- Planned to attend college and become a veterinarian before winning a scholarship to the Pittsburgh Playhouse as a prize for being the first runner-up to Miss Pennsylvania.
- Burt Lancaster saw her in TV's The Big Slide and asked her to play the role of Lulu Baines in Elmer Gantry, a performance that won her an Oscar.
- Turned down the role of Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch.
- Received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Valentine's Day in 1986.
- Cowrote the book Shirley & Marty: An Unlikely Love Story (1990), which chronicled her relationship with husband Marty Ingels.
- Supports PETA and is a vegetarian.