Shirley Jones and Robert Preston
If you’ve read previous posts, you know what a big fan I am of Shirley Jones. I consider her one of the most beautiful, versatile and genuinely talented stars I’ve ever had the joy of watching. Whether it’s film or television, she positively lights up the entire house when she’s on the screen.
The thing I don’t quite understand is this: How did her name become so synonymous with The Partridge Family that her wonderful filmography is often taken for granted? Don’t get me wrong, as someone who loves classic television as much as she does old Hollywood, there’s nothing in the world wrong with being a television legend.
I mean… Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, Red Foxx, Andy Griffith, Jackie Gleason, Angie Dickinson, Elizabeth Montgomery, Robert Young, Donna Reed, and a HOST of others wear it beautifully… and many, like Shirley, also had phenomenal film careers.
Being a legend in television and bringing joy to generations is just as special as being a legend in film and bringing joy to generations. In fact, when it comes to television, you’re actually…
- seen by more people
- seen more often, thanks to syndication
- in many ways become part of millions of families.. hard to beat that!
Donna Reed (another favorite) is rather similar to Shirley Jones, in my opinion. Both starred in iconic films (several for each lady, in fact) and gave brilliant performances time after time… yet both would go on to portray such strong, wonderful women on television that they’re (more times than not) associated primarily with the roles they played.
Same can be said of Lucille Ball – though she never had a film quite as iconic as It’s a Wonderful Life, The Music Man, or Oklahoma!.
I guess really the only thing that sticks in my craw (is that a great old saying or what?) is the fact that, when people are associating a star with one medium, they short-change the other. Not long ago, I read someone online refer to Lucille Ball as “… a television actress, no more than that.”
Excuse yourself, sir… she was much more than that. WHY do people want to limit or categorize individuals so habitually? What’s perhaps more irritating is this… and please hear me out.. I don’t see it happen as often with actors as I do actresses. I have never read someone say that Jackie Gleason was a “television star, nothing more.” In fact, he is (rightfully so) heralded as a star of BOTH.
Lucille Ball, Shirley Jones, and Donna Reed deserve the same consideration.
Okay, I got that out of my system, time to get on with it!
One of my favorite Shirley Jones movies is The Music Man and she gives one of my favorite Shirley Jones performances. The entire film is simply breathtaking, from the musical numbers to the storytelling and from the hairstyles to the AMAZING costumes.
Side note: Are you familiar with the wonderful animated Christmas movie Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town (1970)? The character of Miss Jessica seems to be completely inspired by Shirley Jones’ character in The Music Man. Hair, face, figure, clothes, personality…
Every time I watch this extraordinary Christmas classic (every single year, usually more than once!), I see Shirley Jones in the role and it makes me love Miss Jessica even more.