Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

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November 23, 2012

Morticia and The Baker

Author to sign copies of autobiography that includes Mineral Wells’ connection to actress Carolyn Jones, who portrayed Morticia in TV version of ‘The Addams Family’

By CHRIS AGEE

A Stephenville author will be in Mineral Wells on Saturday to sign copies of his authorized biography of a classic television star with roots in Palo Pinto County.

James Pylant’s examination of Carolyn Jones, best known for her portrayal of Morticia on the 1960s sitcom “The Addams Family,” originated with his interest in her character at a young age.

He will be at the Booksatchell, 800 E. Hubbard St., from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday to sign copies of “In Morticia’s Shadow: The Life and Times of Carolyn Jones.”

“As a child, I spent many summer afternoons watching reruns,” he said. “The offbeat show held my attention – especially with the beautiful and intriguing Morticia.”

Later in life, Pylant realized Jones’ family was from this area and set out to expand his knowledge of the actress.

“I also found it interesting that Carolyn was a native Texan,” he said. “Her mother, Chloe Jeanette Southern, graduated from Mineral Wells High School in 1926. In fact, Carolyn’s parents met in Mineral Wells when the Southerns were operating a boardinghouse.”

Jones spent time in the area, too, he said.

“Carolyn visited Mineral Wells as a child and delighted in dropping water balloons from the Baker Hotel,” he added.

Through conversations with her family, Pylant said he is able to share some behind-the-scenes glimpses into the actresses’ life.

“This is a family-authorized volume,” he said. “Carolyn’s next of kin is her sister, Bette Moriarty, who also participated in the ‘A&E Biography’ television episode in 2002. I interviewed Bette extensively and spent a week with the Moriartys in New England earlier this year.”

While with the family, Pylant said he had access to Jones’ personal journals, correspondences and photographs.

“I also interviewed several actors who worked with Carolyn,” he said.

Pylant said the actress, who was married four times, was instrumental in shaping the career of at least one of her husbands.

“She convinced her second husband to give up his unsuccessful career as an actor and turn his attention to writing for television,” he said. “This advice led her husband – Aaron Spelling – to become the richest and most powerful man in Hollywood.”

In her early days as an actress, Pylant said the then-blonde Jones was generally typecast as “the wisecracking girlfriend of a thug or mobster until she dyed her hair black.”

After about a decade in Hollywood, she was cast in the iconic role of Morticia Addams, which she later considered a hindrance in her career. The series ran for two seasons, beginning in 1964, on ABC.

“Carolyn felt that her ‘Addams Family’ role was a curse, overshadowing the future of her acting career,” he said. “While continuing to appear in movies and television, 16 years passed before Carolyn landed the starring role of Myrna Clegg in ‘Capitol.’” Jones portrayed that character for one season before her death in 1983, at the age of 53.

Pylant has previously written four other books and was a consultant for “Twitch Upon a Star,” a biography of “Bewitched” star Elizabeth Montgomery.

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