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Walt Disney star Dean 'Love Bug' Jones dies at 84
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If you were a child growing up in the Sixties, chances are you caught Dean Jones on the big screen in one of his many roles for Walt Disney Studios. Perhaps most famous for "The Love Bug," Jones also starred in "That Darn Cat!" and "The Shaggy D.A." Jones has passed away from Parkinson's disease at the age of 84.
Dean Jones was an unlikely movie star who was just as clean-cut and straight shooting onscreen as he was in real life.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Jones was an unlikely movie star who was just as clean-cut and straight shooting onscreen as he was in real life. Jones became a devout Christian after a drunken driving accident almost killed him. He would later go on to found the Christian Rescue Committee, now known as Christian Rescue Fund.
The organization works to "rescue persecuted Christians and Jews," according to its Web site.
Born in Decatur, Alabama, in 1931, Jones served in the Navy during the Korean War. Jones made his big screen film debut in 1956's "Somebody Up There Likes Me," which starred Paul Newman as boxer Rocky Graziano. The next year he appeared in the Elvis Presley movie "Jailhouse Rock."
Jones made his debut for the Walt Disney Studios was in 1965's "That Darn Cat!" Jones played an FBI agent who solves a kidnapping with the help of Disney starlet Hayley Mills.
Jones, an affable sort who could play a doting father and flustered bachelor with equal elan, was a very good fit for Walt Disney. Other features included "Monkeys, Go Home!" (1967), "The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit" (1968) and "The Million Dollar Duck."
Most of Jones's Disney features had an ironclad formula: An animal with a magical power; A flustered family man as played by Jones; and of course, a hilarious chase that ended the picture. The American public flocked to these pictures, perhaps frazzled by the many complex and unsettled issues wrought by the 1960s.
Jones most popular Disney outing was "The Love Bug" (1969), about a Volkswagen named "Herbie" with a mind of its own. Strangely enough, that picture, for all of its surefire Disney material included allusions to Eastern religions and the hippie counterculture. It was of little matter, as "The Love Bug" inspired four sequels.
Jones also lit up the Broadway stage in such works as "There Was a Little Girl," with Jane Fonda, and the stage hit "Under the Yum-Yum Tree," which was surprisingly risque for Jones. He later starred in the 1963 screen adaptation with Jack Lemmon.
Jones also originated the performance of Bobby in the 1970 production of Stephen Sondheim's "Company." Jones returned to the stage in the 1980s, notably starring in the one-man show "St. John in Exile," about the apostle.
His wife of 42 years, Lory Basham Jones, three children, eight grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren survives him.
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