For other people named Richard Jones, see Richard Jones (disambiguation).
Richard Percy Jones (February 25, 1927 - July 7, 2014), known as Dick Jones or Dickie Jones, was an American film and television actor who achieved success as a child performer and as a young adult, especially in B-Westerns. In 1938, he played Artimer "Artie" Peters, nephew of Buck Peters, in the Hopalong Cassidy film, The Frontiersman. He may be best known as the voice of Pinocchio in the 1940 Walt Disney film Pinocchio.
Jones was born in 1927 in Snyder, some ninety miles south of Lubbock, Texas. The son of a newspaper editor, Jones was a prodigious horseman from infancy, having been billed at the age of four as the "World's Youngest Trick Rider and Trick Roper". At the age of six, he was hired to perform riding and lariat tricks in the rodeo owned by western star Hoot Gibson, who convinced young Jones and his parents that he should come to Hollywood. Jones and his mother moved there, and Gibson arranged for some small parts for the boy, whose good looks, energy, and pleasant voice quickly landed him more and bigger parts, both in low-budget westerns as well as in more substantial productions.
Among his early film roles are Little Men (1934) and A Man to Remember (1938). Jones appeared as a bit player in several of Hal Roach's Our Gang (Little Rascals) shorts. In 1939, Dickie Jones appeared as a troublesome kid named 'Killer Parkins' in the film Nancy Drew... Reporter. In the film he did a good imitation of Donald Duck. The same year he appeared with Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington as Senate page Richard (Dick) Jones. In 1940, he had one of his most prominent (though invisible) roles, as the voice of Pinocchio in Disney's animated film of the same name. Jones attended Hollywood High School and at fifteen took over the role of Henry Aldrich on the hit radio show The Aldrich Family. He learned carpentry and augmented his income with jobs in that field. He served in the Army in the Alaska Territory during the final months of World War II.
Gene Autry, who before the war had cast Jones in several westerns, put him back to work through Autry's Flying A Pictures and, for television, his Flying A Productions. Jones guest-starred regularly on The Gene Autry Show in the early 1950s.
He appeared in a 1950 episode of the TV series The Lone Ranger titled "Man Without a Gun". In 1950, at the age of twenty-three, he played the 16-year-old cook for a small Confederate Army unit in the film Rocky Mountain.
By 1951, he was billed as Dick Jones, and starred as Dick West, sidekick to the Western hero known as The Range Rider, played by Jock Mahoney, in a Gene Autry television series that ran for seventy-six episodes in syndication, beginning in 1951.
Jones was cast thereafter in 1954 and 1955 in four episodes of Annie Oakley, another Flying A Production. Autry gave Jones his own series, Buffalo Bill, Jr. (1955), which ran for forty-two episodes in syndication. His series co-stars were Nancy Gilbert, who played his sister Calamity, and Harry Cheshire as Judge Ben "Fair and Square" Wiley, his guardian.
Through his work in Western films and television series from the 1930s through the 1950s, Jones became a fixture at the former Iverson Movie Ranch, considered the most heavily filmed outdoor shooting location in Hollywood history. In 1957, Jones appeared twice as Ned in the episodes "The Brothers" and "Renegade Rangers" of the syndicated American Civil War series Gray Ghost, with Tod Andrews in the title role of Confederate Major John Singleton Mosby.
In 1958, during the filming of the The Cool and the Crazy, Jones and fellow actor Richard Bakalyan were arrested for vagrancy in Kansas City, Missouri. They were standing on the corner between takes in "juvenile delinquent" outfits, and police thought that the two were gang members. It took several hours for the film crew to remedy the misunderstanding and to free Jones and Bakalyan from jail.
In 1960, Jones guest-starred as Bliss in the episode "Fire Flight" of another syndicated series, The Blue Angels, about the elite air-show squadron of the United States Navy. Burt Reynolds guest starred in the same episode. He also appeared in the short-lived syndicated western series, Pony Express, starring Grant Sullivan. In 1962, Jones portrayed John Hunter in the episode "The Wagon Train Mutiny" of NBC's long-running western series Wagon Train starring John McIntire. That same year, he appeared in the television short The Night Rider starring Johnny Cash as Johnny Laredo and Eddie Dean as Trail Boss Tim.
Jones' last acting role was as Cliff Fletcher in the 1965 film Requiem for a Gunfighter.
In 2000, Dick Jones was named one of the Disney Legends. In early 2009, Jones performed promotional events for the Platinum Edition DVD and Blu-ray release of Pinocchio. In March 2009, he was a guest star at the Williamsburg Film Festival.
Jones died after a fall at his home on July 7, 2014 at the age of 87.
Moonlight on the Prairie (1935),
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939),
Angel on the Amazon (1948),
Sons of New Mexico (1949),
Wagon Team (1952),
Last of the Pony Riders (1953),
The Cool and the Crazy (1958),
Requiem for a Gunfighter (1965),
A Boy and his Dog (1975)
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license