Probably one of pop culture’s first female Gothic personality, Carolyn Jones was the unforgettable Morticia Addams on TV, proving once and for all that black tight-fitting long dresses couldn’t be more sexy. Leaving us at a too young age, Carolyn often played roles with a tragic touch, many solitary girls with a heart of gold trying to escape a mediocre fate. Fine comedienne, she could steal scenes away from major stars, with limited screen time. Once again we pay homage right here to someone whom we don’t want to be forgotten in our collective memory.
Curious to note that many sources don’t agree on Carolyn Sue Baker’s year of birth. She was born in Amarillo, Texas, on April 28, maybe in 1929, 1930 or 1933. Considering that she finished high school in 1947, what is the truth? Seems that she was a direct descendant of Indian Chief Geronimo. At a young age, she decided to become an actress, taking refuge in many movie theaters (when her asthma was not too bad). Carolyn was a solitary child, working as a radio deejay for some time. Her dad had abandoned the family in 1934. After graduating, she moved to California to attend the Pasadena Playhouse, famed for its training of some Hollywood stars. It’s probably right there that confusion about her age began, as she lied to be enrolled, claiming to be three years older.
Carolyn would work at the Playhouse the following three years, learning her craft and being part of numerous tours around the country, often being the lead female role. She got married in 1950 to Don G. Donaldson, retired officer. In 1952, as she was playing in Dark of the Moon, an agent took notice and offered her a short part in The Turning Point, alongside William Holden. This will give the chance to sign a six-month contract with Paramount Studios. After this, she asked her mom and sister to come live near her in California.
Carolyn got regular work, with a short phase where she wore her hair blonde to play dumb characters. We can see her like that in House of Wax, as a none too bright future victim of Vincent Price who selects her to be his Joan of Arc wax figure. A scene where Carolyn is seen wearing a ultra-tight corset defies description. Some scenes in House of Wax were charmingly sexy for their times. During that period, Carolyn also appeared in some television series, during its golden age.
As her first marriage disolved, Carolyn wed Aaron Spelling, on his way to become a legendary TV producer. This union lasted about ten years. Spelling had directed Carolyn in a play, The Live Wire. Our actress enjoyed another good supporting role in the sci-fi classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers, in 1956. Her versatility would be rapidly acknowledged and she could benefit in getting good roles in top of the line productions. She would get an Best Actress in a Supporting Role nomination at the Academy Awards for The Bachelor Party, even with very limited screen time (eight minutes!). Her trademark look was born for this movie: short hair newly dyed black. In 1958, the Golden Globes honored her as Most Promising Newcomer – Female.
1952 The Turning Point; Road to Bali
1953 Off Limits; House of Wax; The War of the Worlds; The Big Heat; Geraldine
1954 Make Haste to Live; The Saracen Blade; Shield for Murder; Three Hours to Kill; Desirée
1955 East of Eden; The Seven Year Itch; The Tender Trap
1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers; The Man Who Knew Too Much; The Opposite Sex
1957 The Bachelor Party; Johnny Trouble; Baby Face Nelson
1958 Marjorie Morningstar; King Creole
1959 The Man in the Net; A Hole in the Head; Last Train from Gun Hill; Career
1960 Ice Palace
1961 Sail a Crooked Ship
1962 How the West Was Won
1963 A Ticklish Affair
1969 Heaven with a Gun; The Dance of Death; Color Me Dead
1977 Eaten Alive
1979 Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff