Actor Dean Jones, who starred in The Love Bug, That Darn Cat! and other classic Walt Disney movies, has died at age 84. In addition to his film work, Jones played the role of Bobby in the original Broadway cast of Stephen Sondheim’s Company in 1970.
Jones died in Los Angeles on Tuesday, according to his publicist, Richard Hoffman. The cause of death is reportedly related to Parkinson’s disease.
With an everyman quality and a knack for comedy that allowed him to appeal to a wide audience, Jones made a total of 10 Disney movies; one of his first, The Love Bug, became one of the highest-grossing films of 1969, after a Christmas 1968 release.
Jones’ other films include The Shaggy D.A., The Million Dollar Duck, Snowball Express, and Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo.
“Jones’ film grosses exceeded $960 million and six of his ten films for Walt Disney are on Variety’s all-time hit list,” according to an obituary sent by his publicist.
He later appeared in 1992’s big-dog flick Beethoven and the 1994 Tom Clancy film Clear and Present Danger. In more recent years, Jones worked in TV and doing voice-overs.
The Hollywood Reporter offers this summary of Jones’ early career:
“Born Dean Carroll Jones on Jan. 25, 1931, in Decatur, Alabama, 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.
“Signed by MGM, Jones made his film debut opposite Paul Newman in the boxing film Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), and Jailhouse Rock (1957) with Elvis Presley soon followed.
“Jones bowed on Broadway in There Was A Little Girl opposite Jane Fonda in 1960 and was in Under The Yum-Yum Tree in the same year.”