Dick Jones, Voice of Pinocchio, Dies at 87
Unlike a lot of other Hollywood child star stories, Dick Jones was a rare, happy story.
When he died last week due to a fall in his home, he had appeared in over 100 films and television shows but he was known by far the most for his role as the voice of Pinocchio in the 1940 classic. Back then it was common for Hollywood’s movie studios to choose an adult to voice even child roles. However Walt Disney did not want to do that and wound up choosing Dick for the role of Pinocchio. Walt wanted a real child to play the part of the wooden marionette that just wanted to be a real boy.
Dick was born in Texas and at a young age he was performing in rodeos. At age 5 he was called the world’s youngest trick rider and roper. It was none other than cowboy actor Hoot Gibson that told Dick’s mother “that boy should be in pictures.”
After his role as Pinocchio he appeared in several movies and TV shows including “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” and even the “Our Gang” (Little Rascals) series.
Despite that, Dick did not like the Hollywood lifestyle, and saw many other young actors falling into drug abuse and other difficulties. Rather than get caught up in that, he simply wanted to go back to public school and be as he put it “a real boy”.
As he got older and roles became harder to find, he didn’t get bitter. Instead he turned his attention to looking for a regular career. He got into real estate, and eventually opened up his own real estate agency. His last bit of acting was in the 1960s series “Wagon Train”. His real estate agency was successful in supporting him and his family, and when he died he was still married to his wife of 66 years Betty.
With so many stories of child actors going to bed, it is refreshing to see someone who stayed grounded, work hard, stay dedicated to his family and lived a full life.
See Ya Real Soon!