Allan Jones (actor)

Allan Jones
Allan Jones 1945.JPG
Jones in 1945.
Theodore Allen Jones

(1907-10-14)October 14, 1907
Died June 27, 1992(1992-06-27) (aged 84)
New York City, U.S.
Occupation Singer, actor
Years active 1928–1992
Marjorie Buel
(m. 1929; div. 1936)

(m. 1936; div. 1957)

Mary Florsheim Picking
(m. 1958; div. 1964)

Esther Marie Villavincie
(m. 1967)
Children 2, including Jack Jones

Allan Jones (October 14, 1907 – June 27, 1992) was an American actor and tenor.

He is best remembered as the male romantic lead actor in the first two films the Marx Brothers starred in for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, A Night at the Opera (1935) and A Day at the Races (1937), as well as the film musicals Show Boat (1936) and The Firefly (1937).

Early years

Jones was born in Old Forge, Pennsylvania and raised in Scranton Pennsylvania where he graduated from Central High School.[1] His father and grandfather were Welsh coal miners, and he worked in coal mines early in his adult life. He left that occupation to study voice at New York University.[2]

In an interview in 1973, Jones recalled that his father and grandfather were musically talented: "My father had a beautiful tenor voice. So did my grandfather...Grandfather taught violin, voice and piano when he could. My father sang every chance he could get and realized his ambition through me."[3]


Jones appeared on Broadway a few times, including 1933's Roberta and the short-lived 1934 revival of Bitter Sweet[4] after debuting in Boccacio in 1931.[2]


Jones starred in many film musicals during the 1930s and 1940s. The best-known of these were the original film version of Show Boat (1936), and The Firefly (1937)[5] in which he introduced what would become his signature song: "The Donkey Serenade". Jones is best remembered today as the romantic lead opposite Kitty Carlisle and Maureen O'Sullivan respectively, in the first two films the Marx Brothers starred in for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer: A Night at the Opera (1935) and A Day at the Races (1937), filling a straight-man role opened by the departure of Zeppo Marx from the team.

His appearance in A Night at the Opera was well received and, as a result, he won the coveted role of Gaylord Ravenal in the 1936 film version of Show Boat (opposite Irene Dunne) over such screen musical favorites as Nelson Eddy and John Boles.[citation needed] It would be Jones's most distinguished screen portrayal in which, under the direction of James Whale, he displayed fine dramatic acting ability, as well as his obvious singing talent.

Jones made a brief appearance in the 1936 Nelson EddyJeanette MacDonald film Rose Marie, singing music from Charles Gounod's Romeo et Juliette and Giacomo Puccini's Tosca, but according to Merchant of Dreams, Charles Higham's biography of Louis B. Mayer, Eddy, who apparently considered Jones a rival and a potential threat, asked that most of Jones's footage in Rose Marie be cut—including his rendition of the great Puccini aria E lucevan le stelle—and MGM agreed to Eddy's demand. Jones's final film for MGM was Everybody Sing (1938) opposite Judy Garland and Fanny Brice, in which he introduced the pop standard "The One I Love".

In 1940, Jones moved to Universal Pictures for two musicals: The Boys from Syracuse, with the stage score (severely cut) by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, and One Night in the Tropics with a score by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields, which was also the screen debut of Abbott and Costello. After these two films, he slipped to leads in several "B" musicals, at Paramount, and Universal, including a reunion with his A Night At The Opera co-star Kitty Carlisle in Larceny with Music (1943). The same year he made a guest appearance, as himself, in the Olsen and Johnson musical Crazy House, where he again performed "The Donkey Serenade".


Jones recorded prodigiously throughout his career, primarily for RCA Victor. His 1938 recording of The Donkey Serenade ranks third among the all-time best-selling single records issued by RCA Victor.[2]


In the mid-1940s, Jones and pianist Frankie Carle starred in the Old Gold Show on CBS radio.[6]

Later years

Jones continued performing until the 1980s, starring in stage productions of Man of La Mancha,[7] Paint Your Wagon, Guys and Dolls and Carousel. In December 1980, Jones appeared on an episode of the ABC-TV series The Love Boat also starring his son Jack Jones as his estranged son and Dorothy Lamour as his wife and Jack's mother.

Jones also bred and raised race horses on his ranch in California.[8]

Personal life

Jones was married four times. His wives included Hervey, Maria Villavincie,[2] and Mary Florsheim (granddaughter of Milton S. Florsheim).[9][10] He was married to actress Irene Hervey from 1936 to 1957. American pop singer Jack Jones is their son.[11]


Jones died of lung cancer at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City in June 1992, at age 84.[12]


Year Title Role Notes
1935 Reckless Allan
1935 A Night at the Opera Riccardo Barone with the Marx Brothers
1936 Rose Marie Romeo
1936 Show Boat Gaylord Ravenal
1937 A Day at the Races Gil Stewart with the Marx Brothers
1937 The Firefly Don Diego
1938 Everybody Sing Ricky Saboni with Judy Garland and Fanny Brice
1939 Honeymoon in Bali Eric Sinclair
1939 The Great Victor Herbert John Ramsey
1940 The Boys from Syracuse Antipholus of Ephesus / Antipholus of Syracuse
1940 One Night in the Tropics Jim Moore film debut of Abbott and Costello
1941 The Hard-Boiled Canary Michael Maddy
1942 True to the Army Pvt. Stephen Chandler
1942 Moonlight in Havana Johnny Norton
1942 When Johnny Comes Marching Home Johnny Kovacs - aka Johnny O'Rourke
1943 Rhythm of the Islands Tommy
1943 Larceny with Music Ken Daniels
1943 Crazy House Himself
1943 You're a Lucky Fellow, Mr. Smith Tony Smith
1944 Sing a Jingle Ray King
1945 Honeymoon Ahead Orpheus
1945 Senorita from the West Phil Bradley
1964 Stage to Thunder Rock Mayor Ted Dollar
1965 A Swingin' Summer Mr. Johnson
1970 A Man Called Sledge


  1. ^ "Actor-Singer Allan Jones Dies; Got His Start Here," The Times-Tribune, Scranton, PA, June 29, 1992
  2. ^ a b c d Anderson, Nancy (June 18, 1977). "Allan Jones may be starring in his son's movie". The Mercury. Pottstown, PA. p. 48. Retrieved July 18, 2015 – via open access
  3. ^ Caffery, Berthia (July 16, 1973). "'Donkey Serenade' Is His Song". St. Petersburg Independent. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  4. ^ Allan Jones at the IBDB database, accessed May 13, 2012
  5. ^ "Comedians, Opera Singers Contrasted In Movies Here". Washington Court House Record-Herald. December 11, 1937. p. 3. Retrieved July 17, 2015 – via open access
  6. ^ Patterson, Pat (April 12, 1944). "On The Beam". The Mason City Globe-Gazette. p. 2. Retrieved July 17, 2015 – via access
  7. ^ Felter, John (August 31, 1971). "Allan Jones Is Star Of Man of La Mancha". Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph. p. 1B. Retrieved March 24, 2020 – via open access
  8. ^ Langley, Frank (March 30, 1969). "Multi-Branched Career Keeps 'Oldtimer' Going". Abilene Reporter-News. p. 9E. Retrieved July 18, 2015 – via open access
  9. ^ Daniels, Serena Maria (February 15, 2010). "Noted figure in thoroughbred racing circles". Chicago Tribune.
  10. ^ "Allan Jones Weds Florsheim Heiress". The Desert Sun. United Press. January 3, 1958. p. 7. Retrieved March 24, 2020.
  11. ^ Collins, Glenn (June 30, 1992). "Allan Jones, 84, Hollywood Singing Star, Is Dead". The New York Times. p. D23.
  12. ^ "Actor-singer Allan Jones dies". The Bulletin. Bend, Ore. Associated Press. June 29, 1992. Retrieved 19 July 2015.

External links