Classic Movie Travels: Allan Jones
Pennsylvania, New York and California
The voice of Allan Jones is one that is well-documented in classic films and a variety of recordings. Boasting a tenor range and possessing a strong on-screen presence, Jones was well established as a romantic lead in many classic films and film musicals.
Born Theodore Allen Jones on October 14, 1907, in Old Forge, Pennsylvania, Jones spent most of his early years in his home state. His parents were Daniel Jones, born in Wales, and Elizabeth Allen Jones, born in England. He was raised in Scranton, graduating from Central High School, while the men in his family – including himself – worked as coal miners. His father was also a carpenter. By 1920, Jones was one of three children, with a younger sister and brother – Madeleine and Daniel.
As the years went on, Jones would leave Pennsylvania. Though he secured a scholarship to Syracuse University, he chose to study voice at New York University. Singing was in his blood; both his father and grandfather had tenor singing voices, with his grandfather also able to play on the violin and piano. With their support, Jones pursued his passion for vocal performance.
While Jones trained as a vocalist in New York and London, he would eventually appear on Broadway. Jones made his Broadway debut in 1931 as part of the cast of Boccacio. Some of his later performances included appearances in the stage versions of Roberta and Bitter Sweet.
Classically trained in opera, Jones intended to take on opportunities to perform in films. Among his film appearances in the 1930s were A Night at the Opera (1935), Show Boat (1936), The Firefly (1937), and A Day at the Races (1937). Though he demonstrated the ability to perform in comedy in his collaborations with the Marx Brothers, he would also be recognized for portraying dramatic and romantic roles, as was the case in Show Boat with Irene Dunne.
While Jones did appear in Rose Marie (1936), lead actor Nelson Eddy saw Jones as a threat and asked that most of Jones’s footage be cut from the film. Jones’s final film for MGM would be Everybody Sing (1938).
After MGM, Jones joined Universal Pictures for two musical films: The Boys from Syracuse (1940) and One Night in the Tropics (1940). Following those films, Jones appeared in B-musicals at Paramount and Universal, including a reunion film with his co-star from A Night at the Opera – Kitty Carlisle – called Larceny with Music (1943).
Throughout his film career, Jones recorded frequently with RCA Victor. His recording of “The Donkey Serenade” would become his signature song.
Beyond his recordings, Jones steadily appeared in stage productions, including Man of La Mancha, Paint Your Wagon, Carousel, and Guys and Dolls. He also made guest appearances on television in shows like The Love Boat, which happened to also feature his son, pop singer Jack Jones. In his spare time, Jones enjoyed raising racehorses on his California ranch.
Jones passed away on June 27, 1992, from lung cancer in New York City at the age of 84.
Today, a tribute and some locations of relevance to Jones remain.
Jones’s alma mater of Central High School is now Scranton High School, no longer in the original building. New York University remains an impressive institution to this day, located in New York, New York.
In his early years, Jones and his family lived on Main Street in Old Forge, Pennsylvania. The original home is long gone.
In 1920, Jones and his family lived at 97 Scanlon Ave. in Scranton, Pennsylvania. This is the location of where the home once stood:
In 1927, Jones was already residing in New York. He maintained a residence at 4 W. 40th St in New York City. By the next year, he relocated to 102 E. 30th St in New York, which looks like this today:
In 1940, Jones was living at 120 N. Cliffwood St. in West Los Angeles, California, with then-wife Irene Hervey. At this point, Jones was listed as working for Paramount Pictures.
In 1950, they also had a residence at 1036 Via Altamira in Palm Springs, California. The original home no longer stands.
Jones would also live at 1470 Carla Ridge in Beverly Hills, which has since been renovated on the interior.
Jones also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located on the Southside of Hollywood Boulevard’s 6100 block.
Today, Jones is well remembered for his vocal abilities and his appearances in many musicals on the stage and screen.
–Annette Bochenek for Classic Movie Hub
Annette Bochenek pens our monthly Classic Movie Travels column. You can read all of Annette’s Classic Movie Travel articles here.
Annette Bochenek of Chicago, Illinois, is a PhD student at Dominican University and an independent scholar of Hollywood’s Golden Age. She manages the Hometowns to Hollywood blog, in which she writes about her trips exploring the legacies and hometowns of Golden Age stars. Annette also hosts the “Hometowns to Hollywood” film series throughout the Chicago area. She has been featured on Turner Classic Movies and is the president of TCM Backlot’s Chicago chapter. In addition to writing for Classic Movie Hub, she also writes for Silent Film Quarterly, Nostalgia Digest, and Chicago Art Deco SocietyMagazine.