A Childhood Condition Led The Original Morticia Adams, Carolyn Jones, Into Acting

Although many of us tend to enjoy classic TV sitcoms from the 1950s and 1960s, some of the actors on those shows came away from the experience with different attitudes about them than modern-day viewers may have. Many of the stars found their careers hindered by typecasting — they become so associated with one role that viewers are unable to accept them in another part, and so producers are reluctant to hire them. The cast members of "Gilligan's Island" found their careers hindered by typecasting.

Carolyn Jones, who is perhaps most famously associated with her character Morticia Addams from "The Addams Family" (1964-1966, per IMDb), may or may not have been typecast by that role. Regardless, she didn't mind one bit. "As for getting typed, I'm not worried. I was a star in films before I was a star on TV. People should remember that. I hope," she said in 1964 (as quoted by Closer Weekly). Confident words for a woman who grew up in devastating poverty and suffered from a debilitating medical condition as a small child.

A difficult childhood in North Texas

Carolyn Jones' childhood was difficult. According to the book "In Morticia's Shadow: The Life and Career of Carolyn Jones,"Jones was born in Amarillo, Texas, in 1930. Her father abandoned the family at some point when she was a small child, and her mother was forced to take odd jobs and eventually moved the family in with her parents. However, her mother suffered from agoraphobia — a fear of being around groups of people — and had difficulty holding down a job. The entire family was cramped into one small house.

If this wasn't bad enough, it would turn out that Carolyn was a sickly little girl who suffered from lung conditions, including asthma. "As a child, my health prevented me from going to school. I was not well enough to play, so I was educated with tutors. My activity was mental rather than physical," she would later say (via Closer Weekly).

What she lacked in education and activities she made up for in imagination. She had access to magazines about the movies — she was so sick and poor she couldn't have actually gone to a movie theater — and she saw acting as an escape from her hardscrabble life.

Building a successful career

Jones was determined to get out of Texas and into a career in film and TV, but the specifics of how she made that happen are a bit hazy. As Closer Weekly reports, Carolyn claimed that the man who was her father figure (but who was actually her grandfather) was keen to see her go into a respectable career, such as medicine or law. According to her version of the story (Closer Weekly claims that Carolyn had a penchant for embroidering an otherwise mundane story), her grandfather actually took her to Southern Methodist University to enroll her, but she sat on the steps and cried, insisting that she wanted to be an actress. Her grandfather had a change of heart and decided to enroll her in acting school in California instead.

Her grandfather did pay for her acting lessons, that much is true, according to the book "Hollywood Winners & Losers: A to Z," and she enrolled at the Pasadena Playhouse. Eventually that led to a studio contract and the rest, as they say, is history.

By the time she was cast as Morticia Addams on "The Addams Family," Jones had already been getting steady work for a decade, according to her IMDb resume. After "The Addams Family" she continued to work steadily, typecast or no, including reprising her role as Morticia from time to time. According to UPI (via The New York Times), she died in 1983, age 53.