Jones danced in two Broadway shows in the mid-1940s before beginning his career as an impersonator in 1946 in a stint with the Provincetown Players. "One night...another of the players brought me some...material that was hilarious. The only catch was that it more or less required a woman to deliver it. He suggested I do an impersonation." He moved to the Jewel Box Revue in Miami, performing impersonations of Bankhead, Hepburn, Edith Piaf, Claudette Colbert and Bette Davis.
Jones's portrayal of Bankhead brought him to the attention of theatrical producer Leonard Sillman. Sillman cast him in the revue New Faces of 1956, directed by Paul Lynde. Sillman was strongly advised not to cast Jones but stated, "I never think of T. C. as a female impersonator, as a man imitating a woman. T. C. on stage is simply an extraordinarily talented woman." Jones entered the stage by descending a staircase to the tune "Isn't She Lovely" and, as Bankhead, acted as mistress of ceremonies. The show ran 220 performances. The following year Jones starred in Mask and Gown, another Broadway revue. Jones toured with Mask and Gown but it was unsuccessful.
Jones appeared in regional theatrical productions, including The Man Who Came to Dinner in 1959. He also played the nightclub circuit and recorded two albums, the original cast recording of Mask and Gown (1958) and T. C. Jones Himself! (1959). Jones appears on the original cast recording for New Faces of 1956 (1956) and released the single "Champagne Cocktails" b/w "Sunless Sunday" (1957).
Jones made a number of television appearances, including portraying a homicidal transvestite with a penchant for strangling nurses in "An Unlocked Window", an Edgar Award-winning episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour in 1965 and another killer transvestite in "Night of the Running Death", a 1967 episode of The Wild Wild West. Jones appeared in a male role opposite Jayne Mansfield and Mamie Van Doren in the film Three Nuts in Search of a Bolt (1964) and played dual male/female roles as Mr. and Mrs. Ace in The Monkees' film Head (1968).
Thomas Craig Jones was born October 26, 1920 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Prior to beginning his performing career, Jones served in the United States Navy and studied to be a minister at Bethany College in West Virginia. He was married to the former Connie Dickson, who had previously been an actress, competitive fencer and proprietor of several beauty parlors. She and Jones met when he patronized one of her shops in search of a new wig. T. C. Jones died of cancer on September 21, 1971 at the age of 50. He was survived by his wife.
Burial: Rose Hills Memorial Park, Whittier, Los Angeles County, California, USA. Plot: Skyview Lawn, Lot 1207, Grave 4
A Queer History of the United States (ReVisioning American History) by Michael Bronski
Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: Beacon Press (May 15, 2012)
Amazon: A Queer History of the United States
Winner of a 2012 Stonewall Book Award in nonfiction
A Queer History of the United States is more than a “who’s who” of queer history: it is a book that radically challenges how we understand American history. Drawing upon primary-source documents, literature, and cultural histories, scholar and activist Michael Bronski charts the breadth of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender history, from 1492 to the 1990s.
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