Friday, April 15, 2011

Actor, Christopher Jones

Christopher Jones died January 31, 2014 of cancer. He was 72 years old. He will be missed.

(This is a chapter in the book "THE GOSSIP COLUMNIST" by Bill Dakota)

After James Dean died there were many actors trying to fill his space. Of course this has never happened in the past 56 years, since his death. But, one of the leading contenders was Christopher Jones. I used to read all of the movie magazines and I thought I knew everything about all of the stars. The first Dean contender was Dean Stockwell, who would be my first celebrity interview for the Hollywood Star newspaper. And there were numerous actors mentioned as a possible "new" James Dean. Actor, Tom Pittman committed suicide by driving "his Porsche" off Mulholland Drive. He was quoted as saying, "he didn't want to compete with the memory of James Dean." Well, he didn't compete with him and he is forgotten. Dean Stockwell did resemble Dean, but his acting technique was much different from Jimmy's. Many actors today are still compared to Jimmy, but the person who came the closest, and similar in looks, and charisma, was Christopher Jones.

I used to study photographs of him in magazines. I knew he had filmed "Wild In the Streets," as well as, "Ryan's Daughter," but I knew him more through photographs than on screen. Eventually, I did see "Ryan's Daughter," but it seemed like I had to sit for hours before he appeared on screen. He was handsome, better looking than Dean, but he still wasn't Jimmy. I kept his image in the back of my mind because I felt he would become a star in his own right. And many years later I would meet him, and I guess, "fall in love." 

I was managing an apartment building in the Wilshire District of Los Angeles and had met Chris through a James Dean artist, Kenneth Kendall. Chris and his girlfriend with their young son, were looking for an apartment. They wanted to move to Hollywood from Sherman Oaks. I had some vacancies and I wanted to rent to them. Although he had made over $400,000 for "Ryan's Daughter," (a lot of money then), the money was long spent. So, I let them move in without having to pay the standard security deposits. 

The apartment had been redecorated, with new carpeting, drapes, furniture and painted through out. It was a one bedroom in front of the building at 314 South Alexandria, close to the Ambassador Hotel. I felt that a known actor, would be an asset for the building, as well as building up my ego. I had leased to many USC film students as well as law students, to fill up the apartments. Students were more stable and had whole semesters to complete, so they wouldn't be moving out. 

Two of the students, Joe Gayton and his brother Tony, would write "Uncommon Valor." They are still writers today and Joe wrote "Bullet Proof," and "Mind Ripper," that was directed by Wes Craven. Tony has recently written, "The Salton Sea," and "Murder By Numbers." 

Tony was very handsome. When Eric Estrada left C.H.I.P.S. over a dispute, I contacted the production company and suggested they audition Tony. Tony was unaware that I had done this. But, unfortunately, Estrada returned to the show. 

When Tony and his brother were at Paramount Studios working on "Uncommon Valor," I talked with Tony over the phone. He said the studio "was over-run with faggots." I guess he had been hit on many times because of his good looks. I never knew he was homophobic before I made this call to him. In addition to the Hollywood Star I published a tabloid titled, "Gayboy." Tony and Joe put the papers into the newsracks on the street, in exchange for free rent while they were studying film at USC. 

After the Hollywood Star closed down, I moved back to Ohio and then Tony made a trek to Europe! I don't know how he paid for that, unless his parents in Florida paid his way. They had the responsibility of collecting the coins from the newsracks. I had noticed that the sales had dropped off, (although the papers were selling), by about $500 a week, when it first went on sale. They told me it was because there were so many racks that weren't working. I asked them for the locations of these racks, so I could fix them? There were only a few that needed repair. I'm not accusing or suggesting anything, just stating facts-smile! 

Another tenant from that era, was Tim Russ, who would later play Tuvok in the next to the last, STAR TREK series. His friend recently reminded me that I had let Tim pay his rent weekly, instead of by the month, because he was short on money. I knew he wanted to be a singer and I had gone to Westwood, where he was singing in a band. I was unaware he had wanted to be an actor.

 But, a year or so later, I started seeing him on television and in films. Tim was, and is, one of the kindest guys I know. He shuns publicity. He just wants to act. 

Annie G, a singer and her husband Roger Kleier, (tenants), had a group called "Planet Z" and a hit record that Dick Clark was using for his theme music on one of his shows, but he didn't want to pay them for the use of it. I guess they got that straightened out. Another film student, Karl Stange, had been photographed with Whoopie Goldberg, and the photo was in People Magazine. I don't know what has become of him now-a-days. Both Karl and the Gayton's were joggers. Tony had humongous thighs from running. They had made a short film for their USC class, and I let them use one of the vacant apartments to do the shoot. I even let them use some items from my apartment as props. I was supposed to get a copy of the movie on VHS but they never gave me one. 

So after Chris moved in, we became close friends. When he lived in the Valley he had become a couch potato, sitting in front of the television set. His kid was rowdy and rather undisciplined. I can't believe he is near forty-five today. He is quite handsome but looks more like Carrie, than Chris. 

Chris and I used to go out to bars to socialize. He used to babysit all day while Carrie worked. She was too tired to go out and she couldn't leave the kid alone. She was glad to see Chris get out of the apartment. We would often go to the neighborhood bar, The Kenmore lounge, (where scenes for "Barfly," were filmed). Chris and I would chat with Gus, the bartender. And we would often go to other bars. One night we ended up at Barney's Beanery (a famous spot in the fifties and now enlarged and popular today). As soon as we walked in, someone called out Chris's name. He ignored them and walked straight ahead. When I told him someone was calling his name, he told me I was hearing things and walked on. When we would go out, he was in his own little world and didn't want to talk to anyone. 

There was one exception. We had gone to Joe Allen's, a bar/restaurant in Beverly Hills on Third street, and we ran into Anthony Hopkins. Chris had starred in a film, "The Looking Glass War," and Hopkins was his co-star, way before his success in the states and winning an Oscar for "The Silence of the Lambs." They stood and talked for quite a while, while I was sitting down waiting for Chris to come to the table. 

We also frequented gay bars. It had been a while since "Ryan's Daughter," had played in theaters and he wouldn't be recognized right away. But, when I would hear someone whispering,...."look, it's Christopher Jones," I would grab his arm and say, "Let's go." A couple of things would happen, like at the Bunk House, when a guy accidentally stepped on Chris's foot while playing pool. Chris would look down at his foot and then stared at the guy. To avoid any confrontation I knew was forthcoming, I led him out. 

One afternoon while Chris was in my apartment, he wanted to use the bathroom. When he walked out, he had his cock in his hand, and waved it at me, smiling, then put it back into his pants. I hadn't made any moves toward him prior to this, so I guess this was his way of saying he was available. He stood there smiling because he knew he had a large cock and wanted to see my expression. I asked him to show it to me again, and he did.....and....I fell in love-smile! 

We had sex several times during that period. He said he had played around in a boys home in Memphis where he lived when he was young. Although (his words) they had anal sex with one another wasn't considered as being gay. It was just getting off. Chris called one of his gay friends faggot. Whenever his friend, Jack Simmons would drop by, he would say here comes the faggot. Jack had been James Dean's roommate and sometimes his chauffeur. Jack told me that he and Dean had been lovers, but in an interview, prior to his death, he denied ever having sex with Jimmy. He took the truth with him to his grave. 

Chris was a very warm person and when we would come back to the apartment from the bars we would sit on the sofa in my apartment, watching television, and I would cuddle up next to him. He would put his arm around me. He was one of the warmest persons I had ever met, but he also had a mean streak in him. Drinking loosened his inhibitions and he got along with everyone at the Kenmore bar. One time we were there with John Gilmore, author of "The Real James Dean," who was also a tenant in the building and James Blakeley, (recently deceased), another friend of mine who did voice-over work for commercials, and he too was a Dean fan. He had once been supervisor of the building I had managed for Stagen Realty. I had had something I had to do at the building, so I left them there to talk. I guess they all got totally ripped. 

Chris had been married, for ten years, to actress Susan Strasberg. Her father was Lee Strasberg, the head of the famed Actors Studio in New York. She had written a book titled, "Bittersweet," and had alleged drug scenes between her and Chris. Her brother, while high, jumped through a plate glass patio door at a hotel on Sunset Strip and cut himself to hell. Chris had been close friends with him but another time, while boxing, Chris accidentally broke his nose. 

Susan was at a book signing in Hollywood at the Pickwick Bookstore on Hollywood Boulevard. Chris wanted to go. He said he wasn't going to hurt her, he just wanted to see the expression on her face when she saw him. He was pissed about the book but later, decided to let things ride. I had known Susan, as a neighbor in the apartment building next door, when I lived on Orchid Avenue in 1957. One time I was in line behind her at the Bank of America at Hollywood and Highland. I wanted to talk to her but was embarrassed, since we hadn't been formally introduced. I later met her through a neighbor, across the hall from me, the hooker I mentioned in a previous chapter. I don't know what their connection was? Susan was a real cute gal, small like Natalie Wood and seldom had to wear make-up. She was a beauty. Her untimely death from cancer (1999) really shook me up. She is another one who should be listed in the book titled, "Too Young To Die." 

Chris and I attended a few press screenings, which I had invitations to, being the editor of the Hollywood Star. We went to see, "The Blue Lagoon," and when we left the Academy theater screening, we were suddenly surrounded by press photographers and tourists taking pictures. It had been a long time since Chris had been seen in public and they all wanted his autograph and picture. Chris's hands shook as he signed his autograph. 
Tarantino wanted him for "PULP FICTION"

When they said they wanted to take a posed picture of him, he pulled me over close to him. When they said they wanted a picture of him, alone, he said I was his friend and they had to take my picture too. He later told me that it was because I was bigger (fatter) than him, and it would make him look thin. He was thin enough anyway. Later that night at the Beach Boy on Santa Monica Boulevard, we were drinking and suddenly he blew up at me shouting, "what are you trying to do to me?" It wasn't my fault that the press had recognized him. His yelling was attracting a lot of attention, so I said, "Let's go." 

Actually my intention was to give him exposure so he might be able to make a comeback. I had phoned Sam Arkoff at American International Pictures, the company that made "Wild In the Streets," and they said they would be interested in talking to him about doing a film. And being seen anywhere, in public, would get people thinking and talking about him again. Chris wasn't interested in seeing Arkoff. 

Eventually, being behind on their rent, I had to evict them. It was their responsibility to pay the rent and I wasn't going to pay it. He had also caught snakes up in Griffith Park and brought them into the apartment. I made him take them out as well as the "live" pigeon he had brought into the apartment. It had shit all over the place. He tried to intimidate me and came to my door wearing leather gloves. I shut the door and ignored him. I think it was Susan's book that had upset him and set him off, in addition to the drug flashbacks he may have had. 

I enjoyed listening to him tell about the sexual escapades he had had. He said Carol Lynley (The Poseidon Adventure), could be heard yelling for blocks, when he fucked her. (I talked to her a few years ago and she said she had never met Christopher Jones). Maybe she did and maybe she didn't. They may have had an affair that broke up and she could have been pissed about that. 

Since that period when I was close to him, Susan Cabot, an actress from the fifties, was murdered by her son. Well, Chris said he was the father of the son and that he attended the court proceedings. Due to the boy's mental illness, he was unable to go to trial. He never went to prison, although he may have been taken to a mental facility. 

One time Chris wanted me to drive him to his former agent's home, Rudy Altobelli. Rudy had owned the home where Sharon Tate was murdered by the Manson gang (family). Chris, at one time, had lived in the guest house. It was late at night, and really errie driving up the dark road through the hills. Chris said Rudy never cleaned up the blood after the murders and used to show the blood stains to his house guests. Rudy wasn't there, so we turned around and came back to the apartment. (The house was badly damaged from the Northridge earthquake, and was razed and a new home built). Valentino's Falcon's Lair was across the road. We drove up to the gate. I was later told that this was the horse stables and that Valentino lived up the road from there. Tobacco heiress, Doris Duke, built her mansion next to the place Chris had taken me. 

Chris had exploded over something Rudy had done and was going to go see Rudy about it. Chris had a small .22 caliber pistol he used to carry. So I phoned Rudy to warn him and all Rudy had to say was, "did he ever show you his cock? Was it really hard?" His life may have been in danger but all he could think about was the size of Chris's cock! 

A few years ago Chris told me that I was the only guy he had fooled around with. He said he didn't know why he had done it, but he had. I think he knew I loved him. Through out my life I have had very few love affairs, but they were all serious. I don't like anyone to fuck with my emotions. Life is too short to play games. And I seldom go to any bars. I have always been attracted to straight men. Now that I am older, it is very doubtful that I will ever have any other love affairs. The fear of AIDS had backed me off from having sex, just for sex sake. Although I do frequently go "sight seeing"-smile! But, with Chris, it wasn't a love affair, it was just a sexual dalliance. And I printed a scathing, full page story of him in the Hollywood Star, after he had moved. I didn't like him threatening me with his gloved hand. After the story ran, a few of his fans came by looking for him and one even brought a snake, after reading about the snakes he had had in his apartment.

Chris and Carrie parted many years ago and then Chris lived with a make-up artist, Paula, who did make-up for TV's "STAR SEARCH." They also had four kids. Her sister was once married to Christian Brando and it was alleged that she also had a drug problem. Christian was paroled in 1996, after having served time for murder of his sister's (Cheyenne), boyfriend. Cheyenne Brando later committed suicide. Christian died in 2008 at the age of 49, from pneumonia.

Shelley Winters had introduced Chris to Susan Strasberg. Chris said that Shelley had, at one time, put him up in a motel next to Hollywood High on Sunset Boulevard, but he had to leave soon after, after he had shot out the television set when someone he didn't like was on. He said Shelley used to keep young men in Hollywood, paying their rent, etc. 

After Chris disappeared from public, after completing, "Ryan's Daughter," there were several stories and rumors about him. They said he had been in a couple of car accidents and that his mind was fucked up from those accidents and that is why his career ended. They claimed he had been on dope and that he had been arrested on Sunset Boulevard for exposing himself. In "Ryan's Daughter," none of the dialog is Chris's, other than one line. David Lean, the director, dubbed all of Chris's lines after Chris refused to do it. 

Prior to having made it in Hollywood, he lived on the streets in New York and had even sold blood to get money to eat on. Being afraid of needles, he passed out three times, so he said. "Chris was a pretty boy, whom I heard did quite well on 42nd street," stated Harvey Mann, a New York publicist. "Jones was a familiar figure. And then Shelley Winters came on the scene. Shelley had a thing for young, male hustlers and was introduced to Chris. Through her he was introduced to Susan Strasberg. Eventually, they were married. He starred in a small film with Susan titled, "Chubasco," a low budget movie, filmed on a fishing boat. He attracted attention and was tested for a TV series, "Young Jesse James." He got the lead role and it lasted for one year. During this time he had had several arguments with various actors. Chris had to do things his way, because it was his show, and he made many enemies." 

"I knocked up Olivia Hussey, ("Romeo and Juliet") and she made me pay for the abortion. I have the canceled check to prove it," he told me. I recently saw Olivia and asked her about this and she said it was true, but that he had forced himself on her. She was only nineteen years old. She said the doctor advised her to get an abortion because Chris is schizophrenic and that it is hereditary. (That explained a lot of things to me too). She said he also has a brother with the same disease. 

I went with Chris and his actor friend, Steve Griffin, to the River-Bottom bar in Burbank. It was opposite Warner Bros. and recently was named "Q's." Bad movie guy, John Chandler, was there and I had a good time, really feeling good and so was Chris. I suddenly turned to Chris, who was sitting next to me and said, "Kiss me." I wanted to see if he would.....and he did, a peck right on the lips. I really felt good because I knew the customers knew who he was and were watching, but Chris didn't care. Chris did what he wanted to do, whether people like it or not. He doesn't try to impress people. He lives his life as he sees fit. I don't know what Steve thought, although we were all pretty plastered by that time. 

Paula kicked Chris out after he turned down a part in, "Pulp Fiction." Chris and Tarantino had talked all night in a restaurant. He said in his role that he was to have forced anal sex. Tarantino said John Travolta wanted Chris to get back into movies. Chris turned down the role.

It was written in the Globe tabloid that he had made two porno films. I think he had this planted in the paper to try to get back with her. I know people in the industry and nobody had even heard of Christopher Jones. He did get a small role in "Mad Dog Time." It's out on DVD but with a different title. Look at this cast: Jeff Goldblum, Ellen Barkin, Gabriel Byrne, Diane Lane, Gregory Hines, Kyle MacLachlan, Burt Reynolds, Michael J. Pollard, Billy Idol, Paul Lanka, Rob Reiner, Richard Pryor, Richard Dreyfuss and Christopher Jones, and it flopped. 

My brief friendship with Chris was one of the high points of my life. I knew him like nobody else did. I hoped he would make a come-back. He had talent but had to learn to take direction. 

A television documentary said Chris nearly bled to death from a perforated ulcer and that his medical bills ran over a million dollars. I visited him at the Oak Convalescent home on Sunset Boulevard and we talked for a couple of hours. We talked about Susan and I told him I had gone to her memorial service. Martin Landau was there as well as Cheryl Ladd and Chris's daughter. Chris had a cork bulletin board above his bed and a photo of Susan was pinned on it. She was wearing a pearl necklace and he said it had been a gift from Marilyn Monroe. I think he still "loved" Suzie.

The book Hollywood didn't want published

Second Printing is out with revisions

Rated "R" for expletives
Available on Amazon, AmazonUK, Barnes and Noble and all other book sites

Retailers may purchase from Ingram Book Distributors
ISBN 978-0-615-37758-2
amazon/books/the gossip columnist

( Circumcised actors.



Jan-31-08 10:30pm

Wow... this is some story. Hard to believe the Chris is a homosexual, though...

eastwind said...
Dec-2-08 3:43pm

I like Christopher Jones whatever he is a homosexual or not yet. Who can tell me how to contact him? Thanks!

Dec-31-08 5:44am

This is a bullshit story.I know Chris and he loves woman too much and was never into guys.

Noreenie said...
Jan-25-09 4:52pm

When I was about 12 years old, I saw "Ryan's Daughter" for the first time. It was the first film I'd ever seen with any sort of sexuality - growing up in rural Ireland in the 70's meant that one never got to know much about "sex" until adulthood! (My mother would have chased me from the room had she known I was watching it!). I was mesmerised by the film from start to finish and I had my first "naughty feeling" when I saw Christopher Jones on the TV screen that night. To this day, Ryan's Daughters is my all time favourite film. I think that Christopher Jones was the most beautiful man to look at that I had/have ever seen. Such a shame that he didn't go on to bigger and better things - he should have. He certainly had the talent to do so.

paulnodead said...
Sep-30-09 10:00pm

I think it is highly possble that the author of this piece is telling the truth. The Jones he describes highly resembles the actor that we saw on the screen back in the day, charismatic, brooding, violent and perverse and ultimately, tragic. Jones was possbily the last inheritor of the mantle of the Brando-Dean school of acting and he should have been a great actor instead of a great failure. Like Brando, Jones on the screen always kept you guessing and it is this quality of mystery that is an essential element of all great art. Jones had great charisma as well as acting talent, charisma cannot be learned it is innate. We miss you Chris and we hope you are ok.....

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