Tony Award-winning actor Henry Jones, whose career on Broadway, film and television spanned more than half a century, died May 17 at UCLA Medical Center from injuries suffered in a fall at his Santa Monica home. He was 86.
A character actor, his bulldog face was familiar from dozens of Broadway plays and films and more than 300 TV shows. His mild manner and steely scowl were put to use playing everything from judges to janitors, murderers to ministers.
When he began his career, “the casting directors didn’t know what to do with me,” he once recalled. “I was never tall enough or good-looking enough to play juvenile leads.”
Beginning in the 1950s, however, he did have several memorable roles including the handyman killed by deadly child Patty McCormack in the Broadway play “The Bad Seed” and he later repeated the role in the film version.
In 1958, he won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Louis Howe, confidant of Franklin D. Roosevelt, in “Sunrise at Campobello.”
His three dozen films included “Dirty Dingus Magee,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “Arachnophobia,” “The Grifters” and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Vertigo,” in which he played a coroner and delivered a four-minute monologue.
A native of Philadelphia who attended St. Joseph’s College, Jones began his career with theater work in the 1930s and made his Broadway debut in 1938 in a version of “Hamlet,” playing a gravedigger.
His movie career started in 1943 with Irving Berlin’s “This Is the Army.” He was an Army private at the time.
His TV roles began when the medium was in its infancy and covered “Playhouse 90” to “Quincy, M.E.”
More recently, he played Sam in the 1994 Hallmark Hall of Fame production of “Breathing Lessons,” and in 1995 he was the Assayer in “Picture Windows.”
He is survived by a daughter and son.