Dean Jones, Star of Classic Disney Family Flicks, dead at 84

Dean Jones
9/2/2015 1:08pm PDT

He stood out in such comic fare as ‘That Darn Cat!,’ ‘The Love Bug’ and ‘The Shaggy D.A.’ and was in the original cast of Sondheim’s ‘Company’ on Broadway.

Dean Jones, the affable actor who starred in such classic Disney family comedies as That Darn Cat!The Love Bug and The Shaggy D.A., has died. He was 84.

Jones died Tuesday of complications from Parkinson’s disease in Los Angeles, publicist Richard Hoffman announced.

Jones’ film grosses exceeded $960 million, Hoffman noted. The actor was inducted into the Disney Legends Hall of Fame in 1995.

A leading man with a light comic touch, Jones also appeared in the Disney films The Million Dollar Duck (1971), Snowball Express (1972) and the sequel Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977) — as well as in the CBS series that it spawned — and in another family classic, Beethoven (1992), for Universal.

Jones made his Disney debut as an FBI agent in That Darn Cat! (1965), about a wily Siamese who help bring bank robbers to justice. (Jones had a cameo in the 1997 remake).

For The Love Bug (1968), Jones played a down-on-his-luck race car driver who buys a Volkwagen Beetle, which he names Herbie. The car has unexpected speed — and intelligence to boot. Disney remade that film too, with Bruce Campbell as the car racer, and Jones returned to narrate the 1997 version.

In The Shaggy D.A. (1976), a sequel to 1959’s The Shaggy Dog, Jones portrays a grown-up Wilby Daniels, now a successful attorney who turns into a dog. As the poster says, “He’s the Only Candidate With a Law Degree and a Pedigree!”

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.



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