Shirley Jones on her racy new autobiography
Shirley Jones paints a different portrait of herself in her new autobiography, "Shirley Jones." The actress, who played a mother on "The Partridge Family," offers a racy view of her private life.
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Her sexuality remains unabated, said the naturally youthful-looking Jones (healthy eating, daily exercise, and no plastic surgery, she said). She is eager to quash the idea that age kills passion or friskiness.Skip to next paragraph
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"Luckily, Marty thinks I've still got a beautiful body, even though it is old, and every now and again I take all of my clothes off in front of him ... and he loves it," Jones writes in her autobiography.
As she sees it, her own steady temperament made her crave an exciting, surprising partner, and both Cassidy and Ingels fit the description.
She met Cassidy as a 21-year-old small-town girl, a virgin, and "he taught me a lot about everything. Absolutely everything," Jones said. "I learned about life with Jack, about parties with Jack, drinking with Jack, design with Jack. He was bright, well-read, smart."
He was also repeatedly unfaithful to her, envious of her success, and an inadequate father who late in life was diagnosed as bipolar, Jones said.
"Many people may say, 'She was crazy. She did anything he wanted and it wasn't good for her, wasn't good for the kids, wasn't good for the people around her,'" she said. "I'm going to get a lot of that ... but it was my life and it was the way I wanted to live it."
Her autobiography begins innocently enough, with Jones born in Charleroi, Pa., and moving as a toddler to Smithton, Pa., where her father helped run the family-owned brewery, the Jones Brewing Co.
She describes herself as a rebellious tomboy, "wild, willful and independent," who became obsessed with movies and their stars but intended to turn her love of animals into a career as a veterinarian. Talent intervened.
In 1953, on a post-high school graduation trip to New York with her parents, a friend introduced her to an agent who, immediately impressed, told her to attend an open audition with John Fearnley, the casting director for the songwriting team of Rodgers and Hammerstein.
After "going for broke" and singing "The Best Things in Life Are Free," a voice from the theater called out to Jones on stage, "Where are you from? And what have you done before?"
"Smithton, and nothing," Jones recalls as her flustered reply.
She received a part in the chorus for Rodgers and Hammerstein's "South Pacific" and then, a year later, the starring role in the duo's "Oklahoma!" — as well as the title of "Hollywood's new Cinderella," as Jones recounts in her book.
With the end of the big-screen musical era, Jones fought for recognition as a serious actress to win the role in "Elmer Gantry" and other dramatic fare. "The Partridge Family," about a widow and her musical family and co-starring David Cassidy, allowed her to work in Los Angeles and be home at night with her young children.
She didn't see Hollywood as exciting, Jones insisted. It was work, which she left behind each day when she returned to her roles as wife and mother.
"I liked my job, but when I came home, I never thought of it," said Jones, who still takes on occasional theater, movie and TV roles.
Of the many photos scattered around her house, all but one — a group shot showing the triumphant Jones and Lancaster on Oscar night — are of children and grandchildren.
Jones had a chance to reflect on her life anew while recording the audio version of "Shirley Jones."
"What came to me is, 'I did this, and obviously I loved it when I was doing it," she said. "I had a great time. I have no regrets whatsoever."
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Lynn Elber is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @lynnelber.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.