Casting director Caro Jones dies

Cast more than 1,000 TV, film projects during career

Caro Jones, a casting director for television, film and theater for more than four decades, died Sept. 3 in Los Angeles following a 14-year battle with multiple myeloma. She was 86.

Jones cast more than 1,000 TV shows, pilots, movies of the week and miniseries and worked on films including two from director John Avildsen: best-picture Oscar winner "Rocky" (1976) and "Save the Tiger" (1973) with Jack Lemmon in one of his two Academy Award-winning turns.

Jones began her career as an assistant casting director for the Theatre Guild in New York for its live television production "The United States Steel Hour." One of her first office assistants was Les Moonves, now president and CEO of CBS Corp.

On the dramatic anthology series, which ran from 1953-63 on ABC and CBS, Jones worked with many actors who were just starting their careers -- Johnny Carson, Carroll O'Connor, Geraldine Page, Rip Torn, George C. Scott, Colleen Dewhurst, Patty Duke, Telly Savalas, Gene Hackman, Martin Sheen, William Shatner, Burgess Meredith and Sidney Pollack, to name a few.

Jones then moved to Los Angeles and worked for several years at Paramount Television, where she cast series including "Love, American Style," "Mannix," "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" and the TV version of "Paper Moon."

Jones than served for five years as casting director for Filmways Television and was in charge of pilots and such shows as "The Debbie Reynolds Show," "Green Acres," "Petticoat Junction" and "The Beverly Hillbillies." She also cast the company's features "What's the Matter With Helen?" (1971) and "Fuzz" (1972). During this time, she met her second husband, late Filmways producer Al Simon.

After Filmways, Jones began her own company and worked as casting director on movies including "The Karate Kid" (1984) and "Back to School" (1986). Her miniseries credits included 1980's "The Martian Chronicles" starring Rock Hudson and 1981's "Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy" starring Jaclyn Smith.

Jones was a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, a member and past governor of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences and a charter member of the Casting Society of America and Women in Film.

She was the recipient of the CSA's Hoyt Bowers Award in 1994 for outstanding contribution to her profession, and AMPAS' Margaret Herrick Library now houses the Caro Jones Collection of Scripts and Production Notebooks.

Her niece, Caro Norris, said her aunt was known for taking the unexpected in stride, always up to the challenge when a need arose for an actor to play a native of Tibet, a New Zealander with a Swedish accent or a blond Tahitian who could execute a Spanish dance.

Jones often said that "if you have a good memory, a good filing system and cooperative friends, even the impossible becomes possible," Norris recalled.

In addition to Norris, Jones is survived by grandchildren Jacqueline and Chase Eiseman, brother William Jones, niece Penelope Swanson and their families.

Services will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Forest Lawn in Glendale.