I had intended to write a piece about crooner Jack Jones, who has had — and continues to have — a long and successful career as a jazz and pop singer. But I decided to save that for another day, and instead tell the story of his talented dad, Allan Jones, who paved the way via his genes and his influence.
The Pennsylvania-born Jones was the son of a coal miner, and spent some time underground himself as a young man but was able to sing his way into a scholarship that took him out of the mines. He would spend the next several years in New York, Paris and London, receiving a classical musical education that included operatic training.
By the early Thirties, he had returned to New York and immediately began working toward a career in music, but even though he did find some work singing the classics, he soon began to make a name for himself on Broadway. And — as was the case with many stage performers — he also soon found himself in Hollywood.
For a number of years, he was a popular performer who seemed to glide effortlessly from Broadway to Hollywood and back again. His best-remembered movie roles from those days are mostly parts that leaned on his singing ability. Good examples are two Marx Brothers’ films — A Night At The Opera and A Day At The Races. He’s also remembered for an early version of Showboat (see video below) and for a movie called The Firefly, which furnished what became his signature song, “Donkey Serenade.”
Although his film work eventually slowed, Allan Jones continued to work regularly for many years — not only on Broadway, but as a popular nightclub entertainer. He also had the pleasure of seeing his son Jack become a popular crooner, and the twosome often performed together. (Once making a fun appearance on a episode of Love Boat.)
Allan Jones died at age 84 in 1992, and is still remembered — and appreciated — by many.