Shirley Jones was born in Pennsylvania and received a scholarship to the famed Pittsburgh Playhouse when she was named first runner up in the Miss Pittsburgh Beauty Pageant. Following her apprenticeship at the playhouse, Shirley moved to the Big Apple to pursue an acting career. Her first audition was for America’s number one musical show masters, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, who immediately signed Shirley to an exclusive contract.
Shirley’s first stage appearance was as one of the nurses in the Broadway musical, South Pacific. She went on to star in the national tour of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Me and Juliet. Rodgers and Hammerstein arranged for young Shirley Jones to interrupt her tour to fly to Hollywood for a screen test where she won the coveted role of Laurey in “Oklahoma!” and became America’s new “Cinderella Sweetheart.”
The movie follow-ups to the “Oklahoma!” smash hit came like rapid-fire for the nation’s girl next door: “The Courtship of Eddies Father,” opposite Glenn Ford, “Bedtime Story” with David Niven and Marlon Brando and “The Happy Ending” with Lloyd Bridges, “The Cheyenne Social Club” with Henry Fonda and James Stewart, “Never Steal Anything Small,” opposite James Cagney, “Two Rode Together” with Richard Widmark and James Stewart, “Pepe” with Cantinflass, and “April Love” with Pat Boone. Jones starred opposite her “Oklahoma!” co-star Gordon MacRae in the perennial Rodgers and Hammerstein motion picture musical “Carousel.”
In 1960 Shirley won the Oscar® for Best Supporting Actress for her powerful portrayal of Lulu Bains in the American classic, “Elmer Gantry.” When Hollywood decided to bring the Broadway hit “The Music Man” to the big screen there was only one consideration for Marion – Shirley Jones.
Next Shirley Jones took on television in the hit comedy, “The Partridge Family,” showcasing her talents as the matriarch of the family’s successful rock and roll band. Shirley has starred in numerous television movies and specials, has headlined at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and starred in summer stock theatre productions of such favorite musicals as The Sound of Music, Show Boat, Maggie Flynn, and the thriller Wait Until Dark.
Most recently, Shirley starred on Broadway in the musical 42nd Street. She will be seen co-starring with Doris Roberts and Shirley Knight in “Grandma’s Boy,” an outrageous comedy from Adam Sandler’s Production Company.