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RIP Christopher Jones, '60s Screen Icon and Star of 'The Legend of Jesse James'

Thompson on Hollywood By Joe Leydon | Thompson on Hollywood February 4, 2014 at 12:23PM

This is kinda-sorta embarrassing for me to admit, but the death of actor Christopher Jones at age 72 last Friday slipped right under my radar. Maybe it was because his passing was overshadowed by the weekend deaths of Maximilian Schell and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Or maybe his demise simply didn't get much publicity because, unfortunately, it had been a long time since many people gave much thought to what Jones did while he was alive.
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Christopher Jones in 'The Legend of Jesse James'
Christopher Jones in 'The Legend of Jesse James'
This is kinda-sorta embarrassing for me to admit, but the death of actor Christopher Jones at age 72 last Friday slipped right under my radar. Maybe it was because his passing was overshadowed by the weekend deaths of Maximilian Schell and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Or maybe his demise simply didn't get much publicity because, unfortunately, it had been a long time since many people gave much thought to what Jones did while he was alive.


For the benefit of those who tuned in late: Jones was one of several broodingly handsome hunks who were hyped as likely heirs to the late James Dean during the two decades or so following that legendary screen icon's death at age 24 in a 1955 auto crash. 


After attracting attention in "The Legend of Jesse James," a 1965-66 TV Western, the Tennessee-born Jones graduated to motion pictures with starring roles in "Chubasco" (1967), opposite Susan Strasberg (to whom he was married briefly); "Three in the Attic(1968), a wink-wink, nudge-nudge comedy in which he played a faithless stud who's captured and, ahem, erotically exploited by three vengeful lovers (clip below); and "The Looking Glass War" (1969), a John le Carre-inspired spy thriller best remembered (by those who remember it at all) as an early showcase for supporting player Anthony Hopkins.

"Three in the Attic" was a minor box-office hit -- successful enough for its distributor, American International Pictures, to follow up with the totally unrelated "Up in the Cellar" (1970) -- but none of these films generated nearly as much critical and audience interest as "Wild in the Streets," the 1968 cult-fave political satire in which Jones quite impressively played Max Frost, a megalomaniacal rock star who contrives to become President of the United States -- and then ships everyone over 30 into reeducation camps.

Read the rest of the obit here.

This article is related to: Obit, Classics


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.