The Shirley Jones story is the quintessential American Cinderella Dream. Its Hollywood legend remains a living part of the lady that continues to work and grow and nurture her unique role as the embodiment of all that is right and wonderful and sexy about the American woman.
Shirley was born on March 31 in Charleroi, Pennsylvania. Her parents, Paul and Marjorie Jones named their only child after Shirley Temple. Paul Jones took over the responsibility of running The Jones Brewery founded by Shirley’s grandfather in nearby Smithton. Shirley had a normal, carefree childhood in this quiet, small town. However, she was already showing signs of extraordinary talent by the age of six, when she became the youngest member of her church choir. Immediately following her graduation from South Huntingdon High School, Shirley was spotted by a scout photographer for the coveted Miss Pittsburgh Beauty Pageant. Shirley Mae would zoom by 43 other anxious entries to be named Pittsburgh’s princess. Shirley went on to compete in the Miss Pennsylvania pageant. She became the first runner up and was awarded a scholarship to the famed Pittsburgh Playhouse.
Following her apprenticeship at the Playhouse, Shirley borrowed a mere $160 from her father to take on the Big Apple, promising to return home when the money was gone. Smithton never saw that return. Incredibly, America’s number one musical show masters would have Paul Jones’ little girl signed to an exclusive personal contract before the month, her very first audition, and only $110 were gone. Shirley had learned that replacement try-outs for the chorus of “South Pacific” were underway at the St. James Theater and decided that one would be as right as any for her first professional audition. She arrived at the theater to find over 85 girls scrambling for a place in line. It was almost 7:00 P.M. (and 51 girls later) when Shirley Mae Jones walked onto that empty stage to sing to those dark and silent seats. From out of the darkness came a voice with words that she will no doubt remember for the rest of her life. It was that of Richard Rodgers, in a rare visit to a chorus audition, asking if Miss Jones would be “kind enough to wait 20 minutes to sing for his partner, Mr. Hammerstein.” She waited and sang, and the stage lit up. R&H found themselves a new star. But Shirley had only begun. Tell me more>