Dean Jones, ‘The Love Bug’ Star, Dies at 84

Dean Jones the Love bug Dead
Moviestore/REX Shutterstock

Actor Dean Jones, best known for his acting work in such Disney films as “The Love Bug” and “That Darn Cat,” died of Parkinson’s disease Tuesday in Los Angeles. He was 84.

In addition to his appearances in films such as “Under the Yum-Yum Tree,” “The Shaggy D.A.,” “The Million Dollar Duck,” “Snowball Express,” “Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo” and “Beethoven,” Jones also had roles in five Broadway shows and appeared in numerous television series and specials. He appeared in 46 films over the course of his career.

The actor made his Broadway debut in “There Was a Little Girl” with Jane Fonda in 1960, and went on to star in Broadway’s “Under the Yum-Yum Tree” that same year, before starring in the 1963 film adaptation with Jack Lemmon.

Jones’ other Broadway credits include the original role of “Bobby” in Harold Prince/Stephen Sondheim’s “Company,” and Cap’n Andy in a national tour of “Showboat.”

MGM signed Jones to a contract, and he began with a small role in “Somebody Up There Likes Me.” He later played a DJ in 1957 Elvis Presley movie “Jailhouse Rock.”

Other film credits include “Any Wednesday,” “The New Interns,” “Never So Few,” “Other People’s Money,” “When Every Day Was the Fourth of July,” “A Brush With Time” and Tom Clancy’s “Clear and Present Danger.”

Jones was born in Decatur, Ala., and served in the Navy during the Korean War. He attended Kentucky’s Asbury University, which awarded him an honorary degree in 2002.

The actor was inducted into the Disney Legends Hall of Fame in 1995.

Jones is survived by his wife, writer Lory Basham Jones; three children, Caroline Jones, Deanna Demaree and Michael Pastick; eight grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

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  1. Patty says:

    I really liked him; my grandkids get a hoot out of him in “That Darn Cat”!

  2. mikempm says:

    I think he was also on a short lived tv show based on the movie Mr. Roberts called, what else, Mr. Roberts. It was so long ago that I could be wrong because I was only in my single digits at the time. Does anyone else remember that show?
    At any rate, R.I.P. Mr. Jones. You were a good guy in a cut throat industry of self absorbed loons.

    • Dick Rolfe says:

      The TV Series was called, “Ensign O’Toole.” It ran in ’62 and ’63. Starred Dean and Jay C. Flippen as Chief Petty Officer Homer Nelson. It was in that role that Walt saw Dean and invited him to audition for “That Darned Cat.”

  3. John says:

    So handsome. Thanks for making such wonderful family films to grow up with. xxxooooo Dean Jones

  4. Pamela Jones says:

    If I remember correctly he was also a Christian. There are not a lot of roles for Christians that are wholesome.

  5. JAY BYRD says:

    HE WAS A BIBLE THUMPER

  6. Tony Tack says:

    Very sad to read of his demise. Dean Jones was part of my childhood starring in many films I enjoyed and who came across as an easily likeable and friendly character. My respects to his surviving family.

  7. David D says:

    Dean Jones was one of the first film stars I saw and loved. His kindness and clear voice inspired me as a child. I am thankful for his work and the way he conducted himself. In our sometimes unkind world, I admire him now more than ever. Thank you Dean Jones.

  8. mightymad says:

    I’m gonna be honest with you all – my first reaction to reading this news was “Dean Jones was still alive?” You’re know you’re getting old when your childhood heroes are still around, and yet you expect them to all have passed away…

    One of my favorite actors growing up, hands down. Thank you, sir, for all the great memories.

  9. M Bauman says:

    They don’t make actors like him anymore. He was a wonderful person with integrity. Someone who stood for family values and entertainment. He will be missed in this life, but thankfully will live on in the movie legacy he left behind. May God bless his family and comfort them in the days and years ahead without him.

  10. I am so sorry for your loss. :( Prayers.

  11. wanda Manie says:

    First of all, Loved all the movies and shows he did, Prayers to his family He was the kind of actor you could respect and Love……………….. Second get your facts correct, Parkinson is not deadly so he did not die from it. Possibly from complications from it. It just frustrates me to see things wrong.

  12. Tom LaGesse says:

    I remember him in the Disney movies from my childhood, but he left an indelible mark on my life after watching St. John In Exile, his one-man stage show about John on the island of Patmos. That’s how I will forever remember him. RIP Dean Jones. May you eternally enjoy the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter in to your reward!”

  13. Courtney Hall says:

    It’s rare for a person with the skills and experience of Dean Jones to exhibit the kind of profound and sincere humility that characterized this marvelous man. In addition to his many artistic contributions to the screen and stage, Dean leaves a legacy of consummate professionalism, unparalleled personal kindness, spiritual vitality, and service to the world. I am grateful for Dean’s life and for the kindnesses he showed to me. Working with him was always an inspiration, and I pray his family and many friends & fans take comfort in knowing he has entered an abiding peace.

  14. Sound “Taps” for “Ensign O’Toole”

  15. Dave Byrd says:

    RIP always enjoyed you’re films.

  16. Janet Bomyea-Smith says:

    He was in ” that Ugly Daucshand ” too a comedy with a Great Dane and her 4 little Doxies.

  17. John Freimann says:

    What about “Company”?

  18. Drew Gars says:

    God damn, we just lost Wes Craven a few days ago and now Dean’s gone too?! What’s happening?!

  19. Paul Leckner says:

    He will be forever young. A celluloid hero.

  20. LIR says:

    A charming man.

  21. Loved him in The Ugly Dachshund! May he Rest in Peace.

  22. JM Baran says:

    One film that was overlooked was “Born Again”, the biopic of Watergate conspirator Charles Colson…produced by a former employer of mine, Robert L. Munger in 1977. When I met him in 1980, I found him to be a very pleasant man who fully embraced his faith…

  23. Ted Kopulos says:

    One of the nicest guys in the whole business. Always like his interviews as much as his films.

  24. Enjoyed him on Television as Ensign O’Toole,1962-1963,NBC,May His Soul Rest in Peace,Amen.

  25. zidders says:

    Aw :/
    He gave me many smiles in my days of youth.
    I wish I’d said ‘Thank you’.
    My heart goes out to his friends & family.

  26. Dick Rolfe says:

    Dean was a wonderful man of God who always put others before himself. During the years I knew him, he was a constant inspiration to me and my staff at The Dove Foundation. He was always quick to offer advise and assistance whenever I needed it. Dean and his lovely wife Lory were like family to my wife, Mary and me. I have no doubt that Heaven has welcomed him as we grieve our loss.

    • I always admired his work, and to this day love watching his films in all genres. I grew up a Dean Jones fan, and my only regret is that I never had the opportunity to thank him in person for the countless hours of entertainment he gave my family.

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