The veteran comedic actor Jerry McCord Van Dyke died on January 5, 2018, after an eventful career that lasted over five decades. He was survived by many people including his wife, Shirley Ann Jones, who happens to be our focus in this article.
Shirley is not one of those celebrity wives who remain under the shadows of their husbands. Indeed, as the first female Oscar Award winner, the superstar actress outshined her husband. Yet, as you are going to see below, she loved the man until his death. There are myriad of other interesting facts to know about the now-aged diva; read on and learn more.
Who Exactly is Shirley Ann Jones?
The actress was born as Shirley Mae Jones on March 31, 1934, in Charleroi, Pennsylvania, the United States of America. Her father is the brewer Paul Jones who co-founded Cloudwater breweries while her mother is Marjorie Jones. She is said to have been named ‘Shirley’ in honor of Shirley Temple Black who was a famous child actress in the 1930s when Shirley Ann Jones was born. The person after whom Shirley is named became the highest box-office draw in the industry as a child actor between 1935 and 1938.
As if the name of Shirley Temple really rubbed off on her, Shirley Jones is said to have started singing at her local church at the age of six and was a regular in school plays and other variety programs. At the age of 18 in 1952, Shirley was the grand finale winner of Miss Pittsburgh pageant. With this background, no one was surprised when Shirley took to acting as a career right after high school. Meanwhile, we do not know where her schooling took place and there is no record of her ever going to college.
Shirley’s career took off with Broadway musicals. She is one of the key pioneers of the so-called ‘golden age’ of musical theatre with the duo Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. She is actually said to be the first artist who ever landed a contract with the multiple award-winning Rogers-Hammerstein theatre writing franchises that ruled the 1940s/50s. Thus, she featured in the musical production Oklahoma! which premiered on Broadway in 1943 and ended up throwing up a whopping 2,212 performances in its lifetime. Shirley was also a major presence in other Rogers-Hammerstein musicals that were generally always a hit, such as South Pacific (premiered in 1949), The King And I (premiered in 1951) Carousel (premiered in 1956), April Love (premiered in 1957), and the very top-grossing The Sound of Music which opened in 1959.
With her great Broadway performances, Shirley Ann Jones’ profile in the industry kept getting better so that by the 1970s, she was already a household name even on major TV channels. She even began to have the right to pick and choose roles. For instance, she took up a leading role in the musical sitcom The Partridge Family, choosing to have the character answer her first name. Thus, she was ‘Shirley Patridge’ in The Partridge Family show that ran on ABC between 1970 and 1974 and continued in syndication, airing 96 episodes in over 70 countries. It is worth noting that Shirley took up this centerpiece starring role after turning down the lead role of ‘Carol Brady’ in the another ABC sitcom, The Brady Bunch.
The Family Life of Shirley Ann Jones
Shirley Ann Jones was married to the late veteran actor Jerry Van Dyke for 41 years. They wedded in 1977 and remained married until Jerry’s demise in January 2018. The couple lived happily and richly on their own expansive ranch near Hot Springs, Arkansas. They never had kids together but they each had three children from previous marriages. Shirley Ann Jones’ three children are David, Patrick, and Ryan Cassidy from her 1956 marriage to the famous actor and singer, John Joseph Edward Cassidy (popularly known as Jack Cassidy).
Shirley also played the role of a stepmother to Jerry’s children from his marriage to his first wife, Carol. The three children are named Jerri Lynn, Kelly Jean, and Ronald Van Dyke.
Other Interesting Facts About Jerry Van Dyke’s Wife
She Is The First Female Oscar Winner In History
The same year that The Patridge Family kicked off (1970), Shirley Ann Jones shattered the airwaves with her hit song “I Think I Love You”. That song ended up at number one on the Billboard charts and with it, Shirley set a record as the first female Oscar Award winner in history.
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Her Net Worth is Impressive
Shirley Ann Jones is a stupendously rich woman. As of 2019, her net worth is estimated at $25 million. She inherited an estimated $15 million from her late husband. This is in addition to their huge ranch in Arkansas.
Career Low Points
The career of Shirley Ann Jones was not all about great achievements. She actually experienced a number of career low points. For instance, after staying off acting for a couple of years following her role in The Patridge Family, she came up with her own eponymous comedy-drama TV series in 1979. The show only ran on NBC for a few months (from October 1979 to January 1980) before it was canceled due to a poor rating by viewers. However, she continued to appear on the big screens right into the 1990s.
Social Media Presence
At over 85 years of age, it is rare to expect Shirley Jones to be active on social media. Yet, her presence is numerously and actively registered on such social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and more. How comes? Many of her fans created the accounts to keep her memory alive.
She Was With Jerry Van Dyke When He Passed
Shirley Ann Jones’ husband died on January 5, 2018, at their Arkansas ranch. In an interview she granted on the occasion, Shirley revealed that her husband had been recovering from a car accident he had in the past two years. Then, at the point of Jerry’s passing, just the two of them were around. That means that Shirley was there for her husband even in his last moment. This is highly commendable and should be emulated by other spouses.