Christopher Jones (William Franklin Jones)
Photos with Christopher Jones
BiographyJackson, Tennessee, USA
Christopher Jones was a brief cult star of the late 60s counterculture era and a would-be successor to James Dean had he wanted it. Born Billy Frank Jones amid rather impoverished surroundings to a grocery clerk in Jackson, Tennessee in 1941, his artist mother had to be institutionalized when Chris was 4. She died in a mental facility in 1960 and this was always to haunt him. Shifted back and forth between homes and orphanages and placed in Boys Town at one point to straighten out his life, Chris joined the service as a young adult but went AWOL two days later. Read more... After serving out his time on Governor's Island for this infraction, he moved to New York and studied painting, meeting a motley crew of actors and artists. Friends were startled by his uncanny resemblance to James Dean - his brooding good looks and troubled nature were absolutely eerie. Encouraged to try out for the Actor's Studio, he was accepted and eventually won a role on Broadway in "The Night of the Iguana" in 1961. He ended up marrying acting coach Lee Strasberg's daughter, Susan Strasberg, in 1965 but his erratic behavior sent her packing within three years. Chris' undeniable charisma led him to Hollywood for a role in Chubasco (1967) with his wife Susan, and then brief cult stardom in Wild in the Streets (1968) as a rock star who becomes president. This popular satire, in turn, led to international projects such as The Looking Glass War (1969) and Ryan's Daughter (1970). But the trappings of success got to him. Numerous entanglements with the Hollywood "in crowd" took its toll, including those with Pamela Courson (Jim Morrison's girlfriend at the time), the ill-fated Sharon Tate, one-time co-star Pia Degermark and Olivia Hussey (who rushed into a marriage with Dean Paul Martin shortly after Chris turned his back on marriage). The workload left him emotionally spent and Tate's brutal murder left him devastated. He split the scene but ended up a victim of Sunset Strip drug culture. Little was heard of Chris until decades later, when Quentin Tarantino offered him a part in Pulp Fiction (1994). The now reclusive and eccentric Jones refused the role, but this was not the case with a lower-profile role in Mad Dog Time (1996) a couple of years later. This proved to be only a minor comeback or not has yet to be determined.