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Shirley Jones


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  Shirley Mae Jones was born on March 31st 1934, in the small town of Charleroi, Pennsylvania. The only child of Paul and Marjorie Jones who named their daughter after Shirley Temple. At the age of three, the family moved to Smithton, Pennsylvania, another beautiful, small town only a few miles away. Smithton rests along the banks of the Youghiogheny River. Shirley had a carefree childhood in a town filled with friends, and family.

Shirley’s Grandfather, William B. Jones, founded the Jones Brewery in 1907. Her father and uncle helped run this establishment that is still in operation today. Shirley’s grandfather also owned and operated The Jones Hotel.

Shirley attended the local schools and at the age of six she was the youngest member of the Methodist Church Choir. Recognizing her gifted and natural singing ability, Paul and Marjorie took their daughter to see Ralph Lewando, one of Pittsburgh’s top vocal coaches. Once a week, Shirley’s father was more than happy to drive her fifty miles to the big city, for her hour-long vocal session. After graduating from South Huntingdon High in 1952, Shirley was spotted by a scout photographer for The 1952 Miss Pittsburgh Pageant. Shirley entered the contest and won. She then went on to compete for the title of Miss Pennsylvania, this time coming in as first runner up. The prize was a two year scholarship to the drama school at the Pittsburgh Playhouse.

Shirley had planned to go on to college following her apprenticeship at the Playhouse, but went on to New York in the summer of 1953. She was definitely in the right place at the right time. Rodgers and Hammerstein had been searching and auditioning from coast to coast. They wanted just the right fresh new face to play the role of Laurey Williams in their first wide screen motion picture adaptation of their hit musical OKLAHOMA! Shirley Jones walked into an open-call audition and their search was over. There have been those who have said “What luck!” Well, not quite, more like “What talent!”

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Last modified: 04/21/2014