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RIP Christopher Jones, ’60s Screen Icon and Star of ‘The Legend of Jesse James’

RIP Christopher Jones, '60s Screen Icon and Star of 'The Legend of Jesse James'

This is kinda-sorta embarrassing for me to admit, but the death of actor Christopher Jones at age 72 last Friday slipped right under my radar. Maybe it was because his passing was overshadowed by the weekend deaths of Maximilian Schell and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Or maybe his demise simply didn’t get much publicity because, unfortunately, it had been a long time since many people gave much thought to what Jones did while he was alive.

For the benefit of those who tuned in late: Jones was one of several broodingly handsome hunks who were hyped as likely heirs to the late James Dean during the two decades or so following that legendary screen icon’s death at age 24 in a 1955 auto crash. 

After attracting attention in “The Legend of Jesse James,” a 1965-66 TV Western, the Tennessee-born Jones graduated to motion pictures with starring roles in “Chubasco” (1967), opposite Susan Strasberg (to whom he was married briefly); “Three in the Attic” (1968), a wink-wink, nudge-nudge comedy in which he played a faithless stud who’s captured and, ahem, erotically exploited by three vengeful lovers (clip below); and “The Looking Glass War” (1969), a John le Carre-inspired spy thriller best remembered (by those who remember it at all) as an early showcase for supporting player Anthony Hopkins.

“Three in the Attic” was a minor box-office hit — successful enough for its distributor, American International Pictures, to follow up with the totally unrelated “Up in the Cellar” (1970) — but none of these films generated nearly as much critical and audience interest as “Wild in the Streets,” the 1968 cult-fave political satire in which Jones quite impressively played Max Frost, a megalomaniacal rock star who contrives to become President of the United States — and then ships everyone over 30 into reeducation camps.

Read the rest of the obit here.

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