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9 May 2002 (USA)  »

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Carolyn Jones' Ambition and Drive to Perform Graciously
20 March 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Bill Murphy narrates this account of the life and career of Carolyn Jones, who, from the time of her birth in Amarillo, Texas, to Julius and Jeanette (who enjoys films and names her daughters after Carole Lombard and Bette Davis), has dreams and determination of film stardom of her very own.

In 1934, when Julius leaves the family, Jeanette relocates Bette and four-year-old Carolyn to stay with her daughters' maternal grandparents, where Carolyn attempts to overcome her dreary life characterized by her severe Asthma condition, by surrounding herself with books, records and movie fan magazines, as well as attending the theater when her health condition would permit.

By 1947, as she remains more than ever determined to achieve movie stardom of her own, Carolyn's grandfather agrees to pay her tuition to enroll in Pasadena Playhouse, to study acting, voice and dance, and excelling in her program as a quick study in memorizing dialogue.

Soon, Paramount Pictures would award the starlet with a three-picture contract, for which she would receive favorable reviews for her film debut, in "The Turning Point" (1952).

But Paramount would not renew her contract, as it begins to cut corners in the early 1950's, by laying off scores of its employees, after losing film revenues on the advent of the popularity of television.

By now, Carolyn would marry struggling screenwriter Aaron Spelling and encourage him to forge a career in Hollywood, as she would take on many acting roles and attempt to peddle his scripts to producers along the way.

Carolyn would receive many favorable reviews throughout the 1950's, especially after dying her naturally light hair dark, and trimming it to create a fresh and pleasantly exotic appearance, to suit herself nicely in roles from Comedy to Drama.

But, instead of becoming pushed aside from television, which has previously negatively affected her film aspirations, Carolyn would embrace the medium and accept a starring role as Morticia in "The Addams Family," which would run for two seasons on ABC-TV (1964-1966) and finally create stardom for this lovely actress.

On the other side of the coin, the role would typecast Carolyn, and parts would be hard for this versatile actress to receive. After a recurring stint as Marsha, Queen of Diamonds on "Batman" (1966-1967), Carolyn would return to the theatre, to perform in productions of "The Homecoming," "Murder Among Friends" and other plays, while also appearing on television.

Her second marriage, to Herbert S. Greene, finds her reluctantly biding her time in Palm Springs, California, becoming isolated from the entertainment community at Herbert's request, for, while she manages to pen a novel in the mean-time, she finds her great sense of purpose and achievement on stage and performing before the camera.

During another stint on Broadway, she would meet third husband, Peter Bailey-Britton, and return to television, in a starring role on the daytime serial "Capitol" (1982-83), to cap her career as a commanding presence.

Carolyn would, therefore, enter into marriage with Aaron Spelling (1953–1964), Herbert S. Greene (1968–1977) and Peter Bailey-Britton (1982–1983).

Bette Moriarty speaks of Carolyn as, "One who gave joy to the world," Lisa Loring as, "Warm, gracious, fun and talented," John Astin as, "Warm, comforting and friendly, as many considered Carolyn their closest friend," and Nolan Miller as, "Loving, joyous, one who never stopped and cried and said that she couldn't go on."

Interview Guests for this episode consist of sister, Bette Moriarty, friend Muriel Lipsey, Actresses Lisa Loring and Constance Towers, Actors John Astin and Don Murray, Designer Nolan Miller, Film Critic Stephen Schaefer, and Film Historian Ronald L. Davis. (Matt Roush, although credited, does not seem to appear in this episode.)

Archive footage includes Carolyn Jones with first husband, Aaron Spelling, and Co-stars Jean Simmons, Michael Rennie, Tom Ewell, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Shirley McClain, Rod Taylor and others in speaking parts.

Film Clips include a screen glimpse of Carolyn through the years, in scenes from "House of Wax" (1953), "Desirée" (1954), "The Seven Year Itch" (1955), "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" (1956), "The Bachelor Party" (1957), "King Creole" (1958), "A Hole in the Head" (1959), "Career" (1959), as well as television's "Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater," "This Is Your Life," "The Addams Family" (1964-1966), "Batman" (1966-1967), and "Capitol" (1982).


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