Dick Jones, the voice of Pinocchio in Walt Disney’s revered animated film of the same name, passed away on July 7, 2014, at his home in Northridge, California. He was 87 years old. The cause of death has been undetermined.
Born Richard Percy Jones on February 25, 1927, in McKinney, Texas, Dick began show business at an early age. He was a talented rodeo trick rider and roper and was a regular on the Texas rodeo circuit by the time he was five years old. He was discovered at a rodeo in Dallas by the famous cowboy and actor Hoot Gibson and he began a steady stream of film work. In addition his voice work in Pinocchio, Dick had live-action roles in some of the Our Gang shorts along with roles in many notable feature films including Stella Dallas, Young Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and Destry Rides Again.
He joined the U.S. Army in 1944. After World War II ended, he appeared in more films as well as in some TV shows, including The Lone Ranger and Buffalo Bill Jr. When acting roles started drying up for him, he decided to become a real estate agent and appraiser, which he was for the remainder of his career.
About making Pinocchio, Dick said that he worked on the voice tracks for the film for about a year and a half. He is quoted saying that it was an enjoyable experience, “in part because he got along well with adult actor Cliff Edwards,” who voiced Jiminy Cricket. Jones also served as a live action reference for the animators. At times, he said, his lip movements “were filmed in close-up to help guide animators working on the character.” He also dressed in costume and was filmed dancing to some of the film’s musical numbers.
Leonard Maltin said of Dick Jones:
‘Pinocchio’ gave Dick a kind of immortality, but if it affected him he certainly never showed it. He was gracious and self-effacing, proud of the work he did in show business but not one to live in the past.
Dick is survived by his wife of 66 years, Betty, son Rick, son Jeffrey, daughter Jennafer Jones, and daughter Melody Hume along with six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. We send our condolences to the Jones family and express our gratitude for his work which will continue to be enjoyed and appreciated for many generations to come.