Shirley Mae Jones (born March 31, 1934) is a American singer and character actress of stage, film and television. She starred as wholesome characters in a number of well-known musical films, such as Oklahoma!, Carousel, and The Music Man. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for playing a "bad girl" in Elmer Gantry. She is probably best known as Shirley Partridge, the widowed mother of five children in the sitcom/television series, The Partridge Family, co-starring her real-life stepson David Cassidy, son of Jack Cassidy.
Jones attended South Huntingdon High School. There, the independent teenager was drawn to unconventional boys her parents rarely approved of. She graduated from high school in 1952 and that the same year, she decided to enter the Smithton Beauty Contest. The youngest of 12 contestants, she won the pageant and went on to be crowned Miss Pittsburgh 1952. The prize included $500 and a scholarship to study at the Pittsburgh Playhouse. She enjoyed her apprenticeship at this school but despite her gifts for both music and drama, she wasn't sure she wanted to pursue a singing career. An animal lover since she was a little girl, she also wanted to be a veterinarian and in 1953 she registered for college in New Jersey. However, that summer, she embarked on a two-week family vacation to New York City. The vacation changed her life.
Within months of the premiere, Jones and her co-stars were already pop culture TV icons. Her step-son Cassidy became the hottest teen idol in the country. The show itself also spawned a number of records and/or songs, performed by David and Shirley. That same year, "I Think I Love You", reached #1 on the Billboards Top 100 Musical Charts.
Shirley Jones's friendship with David Cassidy's family began in the mid-to-late 1950s, when David was just 6, after he learned about his father's divorce from his mother Evelyn Ward, before remarrying Shirley. Upon David's first meeting with Shirley before co-starring with her on The Partridge Family, he said, "The day he tells me that they're divorced, he tells me, 'We're remarried, and let me introduce you to my new wife.' He was thrilled her first movie, Oklahoma! (1955), had come out; and my dad took me to see it --- I just see her, and I go, uh-oh, it doesn't really quite register with me, 'cause I'm in total shock, because I wanted to hate her, but, the instant that I met her, I got the essence of her. She's a very warm open, sweet good human being. She couldn't have thought of me in the coldness of the ice, anymore than she did." Shirley was shocked to hear her real-life stepson was going to audition for the role of Keith Partridge. David said, "At the auditions, they introduced me to the lead actress (Shirley Jones), cause they had no idea, they had no idea. So I said, 'What are you doing here?' She looked at me and said, 'What are you doing here?' And I said, 'Well, I'm leading for the lead guy.' I said, 'What are you doing here?' She said, 'I'm the mother!'" Cassidy discussed his relationship with his stepmother on the show: "She wasn't my mother, and I can be very open, and we can speak, and became very close friends for me. She was a very good role model for me, watching the way, you know, she dealt with people on the set, and watching people revere her." After the show's cancellation, Cassidy remained very close to his half-brothers and the rest of his Partridge Family castmates, especially Shirley. Cassidy appeared on many shows alongside his stepmother, in addition to A&E Biography, such as TV Land Confidential, The Today Show, one of the presenters of his stepmother's Intimate Portrait on Lifetime Television, and the defunct reality show, In Search of the Partridge Family, where he served as co-executive producer. The rest of the cast also celebrated the 25th, 30th and the 35th anniversary of The Partridge Family (although Cassidy was unavailable to attend the 25th Anniversary in 1995, due to other commitments). In addition, Jack Cassidy's death in 1976, drew Jones and Cassidy closer, as Shirley's three children and stepson mourned their father.
She also won fans in the memorable dramatic project, There Were Times, Dear, in which she played a loyal wife, whose husband is dying of Alzheimer's Disease; she was nominated for an Emmy for this work.
In February 1986 Shirley Jones unveiled her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Vine Street just around the corner from Hollywood Boulevard.
Jones had a stellar turn in a rare revival of Noel Coward's operetta Bitter Sweet at the Long Beach Civic Light Opera in 1983. In 2004, Shirley returned to Broadway in a revival of 42nd Street, portraying diva "Dorothy Brock", opposite her son Patrick Cassidy, the first time a mother and son were known to star together on Broadway. In July 2005, Shirley revisited the musical Carousel onstage in Massachusetts portraying "Cousin Nettie". Shirley continues to appear in venues nationwide, in concert and in speaking engagements.
In July 2006, Jones received an Emmy nomination for her supporting performance in the TV film Hidden Places. Shirley was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award for the same film, but lost to Helen Mirren for Elizabeth I. She also appeared in 2006's Grandma's Boy, produced by Adam Sandler, as a nymphomaniac senior citizen.
On November 16, 2007, Shirley Jones took stage at the Oklahoma Centennial Spectacular concert at the Ford Center celebrating Oklahoma's 100th birthday. Jones sang the songs "Oklahoma!" and "People Will Say We're In Love" from the musical Oklahoma!.
On August 25th, UK label Stage Door Records will release the retrospective collection - 'Shirley Jones - Then & Now' featuring 24 songs from Jones' musical career including songs from the timeless films 'Oklahoma!', 'Carousel' and 'April Love'. The album also features new recordings such as 'Beauty And The Beast', 'Memory' and a sentimental tribute to 'The Music Man'.
Jones married actor Jack Cassidy on August 5, 1956, with whom she had three sons, Shaun, Patrick, and Ryan. David Cassidy, Jack's only child from his first marriage to actress Evelyn Ward, became her stepson. Divorcing Cassidy in 1974, she later married comic/actor Marty Ingels on November 13, 1977. Despite drastically different personalities and several separations (she filed, then withdrew, a divorce petition in 2002), they remain married.
Jones's father, Paul, underwent surgery for lung cancer in 1958 but died within days.
Jones is a registered Republican who appeared at the 1988 Republican Convention and sang the National Anthem. She also sang at the 2003 lighting of the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C., at President George W. Bush's request.
Jones and her son Shaun Cassidy are the only mother and son to each have a song reach number one on the Billboard Charts. Jones hit #1 with The Partridges "I Think I Love You" in 1970 (sung with stepson David Cassidy). Shaun followed that in 1977 with "Da Do Ron Ron."
On the evening of December 11, 1976, after Jones had refused an offer of reconciliation from Jack Cassidy, she received news that her ex-husband's penthouse apartment was in flames. Apparently, the fire started from his lit cigarette while he was falling asleep on the couch. The next morning, the firefighters found Cassidy's dead body inside.
In 1979, the National Enquirer ran a story about Jones's consumption of alcoholic beverages and her husband's erratic behavior. Together they filed a $20 million lawsuit that dragged on until 1984 when the Enquirer agreed to a retraction and an out of court settlement.
Jones and Ingels wrote a 1989 autobiography, based on their quirky relationship/marriage.
Shirley: "My policy is just one step at a time." (Source: A&EBiography.com)
Shirley on her on- and off-screen chemistry with David Cassidy who played Keith Partridge: "He came to respect me, he loved me, and vice-versa. We had our moments, because David had some disciplinary problems. He would show up late for work on Mondays, and keep the whole crew waiting, you know, for hours, and not to my liking or anybody else's. So, that had to be addressed and it was, until we got to know each other." (Source: A&EBiography.com)
Shirley on how winning an Oscar changed her life: "Some people pooh-pooh the Oscar. My career had been over because they weren't making musicals anymore. At the time, it was thought that if you were a singer you couldn't act." (Source: USIMDB.com)
Shirley on The Partridge Family: "The show killed my movie career." (Source: USIMDB.com)
Shirley on why she withdrew her divorce petition against Marty Ingels: "You don't throw away 27 years. You just don't." (Source: USIMDB.com)
Shirley after divorcing Jack Cassidy that Sean became the man of the house: "It was a horrendous time, when I was going through the divorce with Jack, think I leaned on, certainly Sean, because he was the oldest and perhaps, you know, it wasn't right to do so, but he was the oldest and he accepted the responsibility, because he wasn't oh so." (Source: A&EBiography.com)
Shirley on the end of her marriage to Jack Cassidy: "Jack had a breakdown. A real mental breakdown. He was manic depressive. But he was the one that wanted the divorce. He thought it was better for me and the kids. I never did. I would have hung in there. I felt in many ways he was acting strangely and doing strange things and he felt perhaps it was better for all of us." (Source: USIMDB.com)
Shirley on the death of Jack Cassidy: "He was a very, very strong force in my life. As a matter of fact, I never fell out of love with a man." (Source: A&EBiography.com)
Shirley if her voice was best enough for herself to participate in South Pacific: "I sang for their casting director, and he asked 'What I've done, where I've been?!' I said, 'Nothing, I've been there a week, and he couldn't believe it!' He said, 'Would you mind waiting for a little while?' He said, 'I would like Mr. Rodgers to hear you, himself.'" (Source: A&EBiography.com)
Shirley on the cancellation of The Partridge Family: "I was very worried about David, because as I said, he'd showed up on a Monday with no sleep, becoming terrified with the fans, becoming terrified with the press, wanting to hide his trailer, every minute." (Source: A&EBiography.com)
Shirley on Jack's outrageous behavior, in his own way: "Drinking was a part of his life, partying was a part of his life, other women were a big part of his life, other women were a big part of his life, but everything that he did, I thought I was right, I never questioned him!" (Source: A&EBiography.com)