Her character on TV series The Addams Family has kept Carolyn Jones from disappearing completely into obscurity, which is lucky for us fans of the wide-eyed, offbeat brunette. She’s almost exclusively known for the unsmiling Addams matriarch now, the woman who blissfully snipped off the rosebuds and left the stems and acquiesced to John Astin’s frequent attacks of amour, but you’d be surprised by her body of work.
From an ill-fated dice girl in The Big Heat (Lee Marvin practices the violence on her that he will eventually unleash on Gloria Grahame) to a slew of supporting roles in mostly forgettable flicks, there are a handful of genuinely unforgettable turns from Jones. One of those is in Bachelor Party, a dreary slog about men behaving badly in the 1950s that culminates in a beatnik party where Carolyn Jones is holding court. “Just say you love me,” she tells Don Murray. “You don’t have to mean it.”
For her 8-minute-long performance, she was nominated for an Oscar.
Then she more than held her own as the tragic girlfriend of Elvis Presley in King Creole (try not to tear up at the end) before the roles got fewer and lesser until Morticia Addams immortalized her. Just to prove that she had more up her sleeve, after the show ended its run she delivered one of the most enjoyably quirky Batman villains as Marsha, Queen of Diamonds (opposite Estelle Winwood, of all people). But for some of us, she’ll always be the prickly, Joan of Arc-coiffed beatnik who stymies the squares.