Posts Tagged ‘Dick Jones’

Remembering Dickie Jones in “Virginia City”

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

INTERVIEWS

Remembering Dickie Jones in Virginia City

 

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Miriam Hopkins with Dickie Jones in Virginia City (1940)

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By Allan R. Ellenberger

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Actor Dick “Dickie” Jones passed away at age 87 on Monday at his home in Northridge, California, a community north of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley. A few years ago I interviewed Mr. Jones for my biography of Miriam Hopkins, A Really Fantastic Bitch: The Life of Miriam Hopkins. Dickie Jones, as he was known when he was a child actor, worked with Hopkins in the 1940 film, Virginia City, which also co-starred Errol Flynn. For the short time we spent together, Jones was a delight. He’s one of the few costars of Hopkins that I interviewed that had only nice things to say about her. In fact, it upset him that so many of her coworkers have said negative things.

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Below are excerpts of Jones’s involvement in the making of Virginia City:

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According to eyewitness accounts, the location set of Virginia City was a war zone. John Hilder, a correspondent for Hollywood magazine, went with the cast to Flagstaff. He reported “tempers flared, and feuds raged. For one eventful weekend it appeared that the cast was about to choose sides—the blues and the grays—and re-fight the Civil War with bare hands, rocks or practical bullets.” Columnist Sidney Skolsky wrote that, according to his spies, several feuds were going on simultaneously. “Errol Flynn and Humphrey Bogart are feuding,” he reported, “Flynn and Miriam Hopkins are feuding, and Mike Curtiz and Miriam Hopkins are feuding.”

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Dickie Jones, who played Cobby, was twelve-years-old and recalled there were no tensions on the set, especially between Miriam and Errol Flynn. However, he understood how there could be after working with Flynn a decade later in Rocky Mountain (1950). “He didn’t get along with his leading lady, Patrice Wymore,” Jones recalled. “They fought like cats and dogs and afterward, they got married.”

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Errol Flynn was Jones’ favorite actor. To the young boy he was a professional and was never a “softie” about his work. “On the set he was all professional,” Jones said. “Behind the camera he was a fun guy. I didn’t socialize with him, so I don’t know about the other things that he did, or so they claimed, but I liked him.”

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Jones was very fond of Miriam as well because she treated him as an equal. “She talked to me and not at me,” Jones said. “And we worked together. Never did she throw a tantrum while I was around. Some of them did.”

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In one scene, Cobby falls from the wagon and is crushed by the turning wheels. Jones performed the stunt himself. “I went out of the boot of the wagon and off the back of the horse and rolling over, just dropped into the sand,” Jones recalled. “And then the camera rose up a little, so I was out of range, and that’s when they pulled me out before the wheels ran over the log that would simulate my body. That was the only catch in that shot—pulling me out before the wheels actually rolled over me.”

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As Cobby lies dying in Miriam’s arms, which was filmed later at Warner Bros., he is swabbed with glycerin to simulate sweat as she gently mops his head. “I remember I’m trying to fake dying and Miriam’s carrying on a conversation, I think with the doctor, in the cramped quarters of the bed of the wagon,” Jones recalled. “And that went on for a long time with everyone’s long shots and close-ups, and that was a whole day just for that one scene. It was very boring for me.”

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Jones was disappointed that some have spoken unkindly about Miriam. To a twelve-year-old boy, she made a great impression and, as far as he knew, she got along with everyone. “Maybe that was professional jealousy on their part,” he said. “A youngster can pick out someone that’s nice and someone that isn’t, and not just by their attitude and the way they talk.”

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For performing his own stunt in the film, the director, Michael Curtiz gave Jones a large Concho belt made from silver and turquoise. The director knew that Dickie collected Native American artifacts and jewelry called “Pawn Jewelry,” and it was sold dirt cheap on the reservation. “You don’t get adjusted for stunt work,” Curtiz told Jones, “but I’m adjusting you for doing such a good job.”

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Jones had the following the say about his other costars:

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RANDOLPH SCOTT

“He was a charming gentleman. He was very quiet. He was too busy reading the Wall Street Journal, making his fortune.”

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HUMPHREY BOGART

“He was just a run-of-the-mill guy. He wasn’t pretentious or anything like that. In his early career, he was really struggling with his work and Black Legion (Jones also appeared in this film) was one of his first serious things. I look back, and I watch Virginia City and there he is with a little thin mustache and he’s the Mexican bandito with a broken accent. It broke me up. It was too phony.”

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MICHAEL CURTIZ

“There were a lot of times we were sitting around doing nothing and waiting. Michael Curtiz was a fanatic for clouds. He called them goobers. ‘We wait here ‘til the goobers to come,’ he would say. It made the film more picturesque with all the clouds floating around the sky out there in Arizona.”

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“I enjoyed Virginia City very much,” Jones said. “It was fun to work on.”

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Thank you Mr. Jones.

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Dick Jones Obituary

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

OBITUARY

Dick Jones dies at 87; actor who provided voice of Disney’s Pinocchio

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Actor Dick Jones appeared in more than 100 films and television shows in his long career, but he is best known by far for a role in which he was not seen on screen. At about 10, when he was known as Dickie, Jones was chosen by Walt Disney to be the voice of Pinocchio in the classic 1940 animated film.

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Click her to continue reading the Los Angeles Times obituary for Dickie Jones

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