Actress and singer whose claim to fame was the tambourine-playing mother, Shirley Partridge, on The Partridge Family, where she starred with her stepson David Cassidy.
Shirley Mae Jones was born in Pennsylvania; Paul and Marjorie Jones named their only child after the beloved and famous Shirley Temple. Jones began her singing career at the age of six in the Methodist Church Choir and took voice lessons from Ralph Lewando. She attended the Pittsburgh Playhouse in 1952 and went on to New York in 1953. It was here that she landed her first musical role on Broadway as a nurse in South Pacific. From there she went to Hollywood, where her singing/acting career flourished.
In 1952, after graduating from South Huntingdon High School, Shirley Jones won the Miss Pittsburgh Pageant and was the first runner up in the Miss Pennsylvania Pageant, which included a two-year drama scholarship to the Pittsburgh Playhouse. Instead of keeping with her original college plans, Jones decided to move to New York and pursue a career on the Broadway stage.
In the summer of 1953, Jones went to an open-call audition for the Rodgers and Hammerstein production of Oklahoma. She was cast for the role of Laurey Williams. After doing Oklahoma and Carousel, Jones began acting in films, frequently taking the sweet, wholesome character roles; however, it was her role as a prostitute in Elmer Gantry that won her an Academy Award in 1961. She went on to play in such films as The Happy Ending and The Secret of My Success.
During the '70s, Shirley Jones made her television debut in The Partridge Family, whose real-life hits included "Cherish," "I Think I Love You" and "Come On, Get Happy." After The Partridge Family ended in 1974, she continued her television career. Her credits include roles in the television movie The Lives of Jenny Dolan and the comedy show Shirley Miller, which aired for only a year in 1979. Since then, Shirley Jones has made cameo appearances in a number of popular television shows, including Murder She Wrote, Burke's Law and Something So Right. ~ Kim Summers