Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Every Disney Hero Has a Voice ~ Pinocchio ~ Dickie Jones

Every Disney Hero Has a Voice

Pinocchio ~ Dickie Jones

February 25th, 1974


Dick Jones was 10 years old and a veteran actor in Hollywood when Walt Disney cast him as the voice of Pinocchio in 1939. The young actor, whose screen name was "Dickie" Jones, had already appeared in nearly 40 motion pictures, including "Stella Dallas" with Barbara Stanwyck, "Wonder Bar" with Al Jolson and Dick Powell, and "Daniel Boone" with George O'Brien and John Carradine.

He later recalled, "At the time, 'Pinocchio' was just a job. Who knew it would turn out to be the classic that it is today? I count my lucky stars that I had a part in it."

Born February 25, 1927, in McKinney, Texas, Dick had been discovered by western film star Hoot Gibson by age three. Gibson was appearing in a rodeo in the youngster's hometown.

"Hoot told my mother I ought to be in pictures and sponsored our trip to Hollywood," said Dick, who went on to work with practically every cowboy actor, including Buck Jones, Ken Maynard and Bill Elliott.

Among his memories of "Pinocchio," Dick recalled donning a puppet costume and acting out scenes for a live-action film study to which animators could refer. And when there was a lull in recording lines, "Mr. Disney would take an old storyboard drawing, pin it up on a four-by-eight celotex sheet and start a dart game with me using pushpins," said Dick. "He was good at throwing pushpins, underhand, and making them stick with fantastic accuracy. He always won the game."

During the 19 months Dick worked on "Pinocchio," he also managed to complete roles in "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and "Destry Rides Again," both starring James Stewart, among other features.

In 1944, he was drafted into World War II. By the time he finished training, the war was over. After his Christmas Day discharge in 1946, Dick appeared in a few more films, including his favorite, "Rocky Mountain," starring Errol Flynn, which, as he pointed out, "marks the first time in motion picture history the United States Cavalry arrived too late - we all died."

In 1949, he debuted in television when Gene Autry hired him as a stuntman for his Flying A Productions. During this time, Dick played Jock Mahoney's sidekick in "The Range Rider," a western series, which led to his own series "Buffalo Bill, Jr." He went on to guest star on other television shows, including "Gunsmoke," "Annie Oakley," and "The Lone Ranger." In all, Dick worked on nearly 100 films and more than 200 television episodes.

By 1959, he retired from show business and began his new career in real estate. In 1992, Dick founded his own agency, White Hat Realty.

Dickie Jones (born February 25, 1927) is an American actor who achieved some success as a child and as a young adult, especially in B-Westerns and television. He is best known as the voice of Pinocchio in the 1940 Walt Disney film.

Early life

Jones was born in Snyder, the seat of Scurry county on the South Plains in Texas. The son of a newspaper editor, Jones was a prodigious horseman from infancy, billed at the age of four as the "World's Youngest Trick Rider and Trick Roper".


At the age of six, he was hired to perform riding and lariat tricks in the rodeo owned by Western star Hoot Gibson. Gibson convinced young Jones and his parents that there was a place for him in Hollywood, so the boy and his mother moved there.

Gibson arranged for some small parts for the boy, whose good looks, energy and pleasant voice quickly landed him more and bigger parts, both in low-budget Westerns and in more substantial productions. Although often uncredited, he was usually known as Dickie Jones. A well known early film role is the film A Man to Remember (1938). Jones also appeared as a bit player in several of Hal Roach's Our Gang (Little Rascals) shorts. In 1939, Dickie Jones appeared as a troublesome kid named 'Killer Parkins' in the film, Nancy Drew-Reporter. In the film he did a good imitation of Donald Duck. The same year he appeared in Mr. Smith goes to Washington as Senate page Richard (Dick) Jones. In 1940, he had one of his most prominent (though invisible) roles, as the voice of Pinocchio in Walt Disney's animated film of the same name. Jones attended Hollywood High School and at 15, took over the role of Henry Aldrich on the hit radio show The Aldrich Family.

He learned carpentry and augmented his income with jobs in that field. He served in the Army in Alaska during the final months of World War II. Gene Autry, who before the war had cast Jones in several Westerns, put him back to work in films and particularly in television, on programs produced by Autry's company.

Now billed as Dick Jones, the handsome young man starred as Dick West, sidekick to the Western hero known as The Range Rider, played by Jock Mahoney, in a television series that ran for seventy-six episodes in 1951 (and for decades in syndication).

Autry gave Jones his own series, Buffalo Bill Jr. (1955), which ran for forty-two episodes in syndication. In 1957, Jones appeared twice as Ned in the episodes "The Brothers" and "Renegade Rangers" of the syndicated American Civil War series Gray Ghost, with Tod Andrews in the title role of Confederate Major John Singleton Mosby. In 1958, during the filming of the film The Cool and the Crazy, he and fellow actor Richard Bakalyan were arrested for vagrancy in Kansas City, Missouri. They were standing on the corner between takes in "juvenile delinquent" outfits and the police thought that they were actual gang members. It took several hours for the film crew to get it all straight and them released from jail.

In 1960, he guest-starred as Bliss in the episode "Fire Flight" of another syndicated series, The blue Angels, about the elite air-show squadron of the U.S. Navy. In 1962, he appeared as John Hunter in the episode "The Wagon Train Mutiny" of NBC's long-running western series Wagon Train starring John McIntire. That same year, he appeared in the television short The Night Rider starring Johnny Cash as Johnny Laredo and Eddie Dean as Trail Boss Tim.

Jones' last acting role was as Cliff Fletcher in the 1965 film Requiem for a Gunfighter.

In 1959 Jones retired from acting and began his new career in real estate. In 1992, he founded White Hat Realty.

Recent activity

In 2000, Dick Jones was named one of the Disney Legends.

In early 2009, Jones did promotional events for the Platinum Edition DVD and Blu-Ray release of Pinocchio.

In March 2009, Jones was a guest star at the Williamsburg Film Festival in Virginia.

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