Shirley Jones was warned career would ‘go down toilet’ with Partridge Family: ‘No regrets’ | Films | Entertainment
Carousel – Behind the scenes with David James Hulston, Revival Choreographer
This afternoon, Shirley Jones’ classic appearance as Julie Jordan in 1956’s Carousel hits screens, airing from 2.25pm on BBC Two. It follows the story of Billy Bigelow, a man who is forced to watch his wife and daughter struggle on Earth from his spot in heaven. But he is given an offer: one last chance to return to Earth for a final day with his family after sharing his tale.
The musical, voted the 41st best of all time by Channel 4 viewers, is among the most cherished with Hollywood fans, and helped catapult Jones to global stardom.
Her appearance followed hot on the heels of her breakthrough role in Oklahoma! the year before, again opposite favourite Gordon MacRae, who also stars in Carousel.
Some four years after Carousel’s release, Jones collected the acclaim she richly deserved, winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Elmer Gantry.
While her career continued to go from strength to strength throughout the Fifties and Sixties, the legendary actress was given a warning about taking one particular role, with a threat it could ruin her career.
Shirley Jones was warned career would ‘go down toilet’ with Partridge Family: ‘No regrets’
Shirley Jones in The Partridge Family
Still on a high, in 1970 Jones turned down the role of Carol Brady in The Brady Bunch, a character that would later be given to her best friend, Florence Henderson.
However, she was the first choice to audition for the role of Shirley Partridge in The Partridge Family, a musical sitcom based around the “real-life musical family The Cowsills”.
Jones recalled, though, in an interview with the Vancouver Sun in 2009, that her agents had warned her off the role.
She said: “The problem with Partridge—though it was great for me and gave me an opportunity to stay home and raise my kids—when my agents came to me and presented it to me, they said if you do a series and it becomes a hit show, you will be that character for the rest of your life and your film career will go into the toilet, which is what happened.
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“But I have no regrets.”
Among the stars to make a name on the show included pop heartthrob David Cassidy, who began acting on the show aged 20.
He was known to Jones as Cassidy was his stepson, and following the show’s immediate success, spawned an incredible career as a musician.
The show had a number of hit songs, including I Think I Love You, which went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 music chart.
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Shirley Jones won an Oscar
Featuring Jones, it made the actress become the first woman ever to win an acting Oscar, as well as having a number hit in the US, the first man to do so was Frank Sinatra.
In 2020, Jones discussed her decision to turn down The Brady Bunch, to focus on The Partridge Family.
She told the New York Post: “As much as I enjoyed The Brady Bunch, I didn’t want to exclusively be the mama at home taking the roast out of the oven.
“The Partridge Family had the added component of music, which I loved, and I was also drawn to the idea of playing a single (widowed) woman raising children on her own.
Filming locations in UK
“Finally, a half-hour television series allowed me to stay home with my real kids, something that had been significantly more challenging while travelling around the world making movies.”
While she enjoyed a varied career, Jones always spoke of her affection towards MacRae, who passed away in 1986.
Speaking in 2014 to an audience at the TCM Classic Movie Festival, the now-88-year-old noted how she would wake up in her youth and listen to MacRae’s radio show, before one day sharing the screen with him.
She added: “Gordon MacRae was my favourite singer of all time.
“For me to have the opportunity to sing with him… was very, very exciting for me.”
Carousel airs today from 2.25pm on BBC Two.