Original voice of Pinocchio, actor Richard Jones, dead at 87
LOS ANGELES (CNN) — The actor who gave voice to Pinocchio in Walt Disney’s 1940 animation movie, died at his home Monday night, the Los Angeles County coroner’s office said Tuesday.
Richard Percy Jones, known in film and television as Dick Jones, was 87.
The cause of death has not yet been determined, according to Fred Corral of the coroner’s office. A daughter found Jones on a bathroom floor of his Northridge, Calif., home, Corral said.
Disney Studios named Jones a “Disney Legend” in 2000 in recognition of his work on the iconic film.
“At the time, ‘Pinocchio’ was just a job,” Jones said at the time of induction. “Who knew it would turn out to be the classic that it is today? I count my lucky stars that I had a part in it.”
In addition to voicing the script, Jones also wore a puppet costume and acted out scenes to help Disney animators draw the cartoon.
Born in McKinney, Texas, on February 25, 1927, his acting career started when he was just 3 years old.
Cowboy film legend Hoot Gibson discovered the child while appearing in a rodeo in Jones’ hometown, according to his Disney biography.
“Hoot told my mother I ought to be in pictures and sponsored our trip to Hollywood,” Jones said. Jones acted in Jimmy Stewart’s “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” and “Destry Rides Again” during the same 19 months he was working on Pinocchio, according to his bio.
He was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1944, but returned to Hollywood after the second world war.
Jones acted in Errol Flynn’s “Rocky Mountain” and several other movies before the start of his television acting career in 1949.
He used his skills as a horseman to work as a stuntman for Gene Autry’s Flying A Productions.
Jones played the sidekick in “The Range Rider” television series before getting his own western series, “Buffalo Bill, Jr.” in the 1950s. His 200 TV appearances include guest star roles in “Gunsmoke,” “Annie Oakley” and “The Lone Ranger.”
When he left acting to start a career in real estate in 1959, he had appeared in nearly 100 movies, according to Disney.