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Shirley Jones was born Shirley Mae Jones in Charleroi, Pennsylvania in 1934. She showed her singing talent as a small child, and started taking formal lessons at the age of 12. Over the next few years she would listen to Gordon MacRae on the radio and in movies (he was 13 years older than her, and a major star), and she dreamed of singing with him someday (as no doubt millions of teenage girls did). As soon as she graduated high school, she went to New York and auditioned for South Pacific, and she not only got a part, but Rodgers and Hammerstein were so taken by her that they signed her to a personal contract, and she was the only person they signed! She next understudied the lead in the Chicago version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's next play, Me and Juliet, and in 1955 they cast her in the movie version of Oklahoma (which had been on Broadway for 2,212 performances, starting in 1943, a record at that time), opposite Gordon MacRae! The huge success of that movie led Rodgers and Hammerstein to make Carousel the following year. Shirley was again cast as the lead, opposite Frank Sinatra as Billy Bigelow. But the producers intended to film the movie in both CinemaScope and Todd-AO, which would require each scene to be shot twice. Sinatra quit the movie over this, and Shirley convinced Rodgers and Hammerstein to re-sign Gordon MacRae on a few days' notice (and ironically, the technical people found a way to only shoot each scene once). The movie was another major hit, but the time of huge budget musicals was winding down, and Shirley returned to performing on Broadway, and took some non-musical film roles, including as a prostitute in Elmer Gantry, where she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. In 1960, she starred in The Music Man opposite Robert Preston, the last of her great musicals. In 1956, she had married actor Jack Cassidy, becoming stepmom to his 6 year old son, and they had three sons together. In 1970, she was cast as the lead of the TV show The Partridge Family, and her stepson David played her eldest son on the show. In 1974, the show went off the air, and Shirley and Jack divorced (he would die in a fire two years later), and in 1977 she married wacky comedian turned agent Marty Ingels. Mr. Ingels passed away in 2015, and as of 2021, Shirley is still alive at the age of 87.
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