Wednesday, Jones’ publicist confirmed that The Love Bug actor Dean Jones died in Los Angeles.
- The Love Bug actor Dean Jones died at the age of 84.
- He died of Parkinson’s disease.
- Jones was best known for his work in their family friendly fare such as The Love Bug, That Darn Cat!, and The Shaggy D.A.
Dean Carroll Jones was an American actor. He was best known for his light-hearted leading roles in several Walt Disney movies between 1965 and 1977, most notably The Love Bug. Jones also originated the role of Bobby in Stephen Sondheim’s Company.
Dean Carroll Jones was born on January 25, 1931 in Decatur, Alabama, to Andrew Guy Jones, a traveling construction worker, and Nolia Elizabeth White Jones. As a student at Decatur’s Riverside High School, Jones had his own local radio show, Dean Jones Sings. Jones served in the United States Navy during the Korean War, and after his discharge worked at the Bird Cage Theater at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California.
Jones attended Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky, as a member of its Class of 1953, but did not graduate. The university, however, awarded him an honorary degree in 2002, and he spoke at the ceremony for the dedication of Asbury’s Andrew S. Miller Center for Communications Arts on March 4, 2011.
After appearing in minor film and television roles, Jones made his Broadway debut (along with Jane Fonda) in the 1960 play There Was a Little Girl. He stepped into the role in Boston, Massachusetts, on only one day’s notice. In 1960 he also played Dave Manning in the Broadway comedy Under the Yum-Yum Tree, a role which he repeated in the 1963 movie version starring Jack Lemmon.
After achieving success in film and television, Jones was set to return to Broadway as the star of Stephen Sondheim’s new musical Company. Shortly after opening night, Jones withdrew from the show, due to stress that he was undergoing from ongoing divorce proceedings. Director Harold Prince agreed to replace him with Larry Kert if Jones would open the show and record the cast album. Jones agreed, and his performance is preserved on the original cast album (although it Larry Kert who received the Tony nomination for Best Actor in a Musical).
In 1986, Jones, by then having become a Christian, starred in Into the Light, a musical about scientists and the Shroud of Turin, which closed four days after it opened. He had far more success touring in the one-man show St. John in Exile as the last surviving Apostle of Jesus Christ, reminiscing about his life while imprisoned on the Greek island of Patmos. A performance was filmed in 1986. He made one more Broadway appearance, in 1993, at the Vivian Beaumont Theater, in a special two-day concert staging of Company featuring most of the original Broadway cast.
Jones’ first marriage to Mae Entwisle ended in divorce in 1970. He has two children from that union. He was married to actress Lory Patrick from 1973 until his death in 2015.
The Love Bug actor Dean Jones became a devout born-again Christian in 1973–1974, before his father’s death in 1979. He had a history of suffering from depression. His wife Lory said, “One night he got down on his knees and prayed that God would free him from the miserable moods that he had always suffered. He told me that in an instant it was gone and he felt peace and joy flood into his heart.” Jones has appeared in several Christian films.
In 1998 Jones founded the Christian Rescue Committee (CRC), an organization that helps provide a “way of escape to Jews, Christians, and others persecuted for their faith.”IMAGE/AP Photo/Dan Grossi