Dean Jones, the classic Disney star who goofed his way through such family-friendly movies as The Love Bug and That Darned Cat!, has died. He was 84.
He died Tuesday of Parkinson’s disease in Los Angeles, publicist Richard Hoffman said in a press release.
Inducted into the Disney Legends Hall of Fame in 1995, Jones appeared in 46 films, five Broadway shows and numerous TV series and specials over his career. His film grosses exceeded $960 million and six of his ten films for Walt Disney are on Variety‘s all-time hit list, Hoffman said.
His films for Disney especially were childhood milestones for millions of baby-boomers entranced by their first movies. Besides The Love Bug and That Darned Cat!, his films included The Million Dollar Duck, Snowball Express, Under The Yum-Yum Tree, Blackbeard’s Ghost, and Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, plus another family classic, Beethoven, for Universal.
On TV, the actor with the permanently boyish face starred in Ensign O’Toole and Herbie,The Love Bug among scores of others.
Born Dean Carroll Jones on Jan. 25, 1931, in Decatur, Ala., Jones served in the Navy during the Korean War and attended Asbury University in Kentucky. He started his career as the host of a local Alabama radio show, Dean Jones Sings, and as a producer of stage shows.
He made his Broadway debut in There Was A Little Girl with Jane Fonda in 1960. Later, under contract at MGM, Jones made his film debut in Somebody Up There Likes Me and Jailhouse Rockwith Elvis Presley.
A committed Christian,Jones later founded the Christian Rescue Committee (now Christian Rescue Fund), which helped rescue Jews, Christians and others persecuted for their faith. Jones’ other charitable activities included international child-care and world hunger.
Jones is survived by his wife of 42 years, writer Lory Basham Jones; three children, Caroline Jones, Deanna Demaree and Michael Pastick; eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be scheduled for a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to Christian Rescue Fund c/o Jubilee Campaign USA, in Fairfax, VA., Hoffman said.