From Coal Miner to Singer
A Face on Stage 1930-1935
A MGM Contract 1935-1938
Post-MGM and World War II 1939-1945
Success Overseas and Return to the Stage 1946-1970
The Last Stage and TV Performances 1970-1992
In the End 1992
Theodore Jones, later to become Allan Jones, was born in Old Forge, (near Scranton) Pennsylvania on October 14, 1907. His mother, Elizabeth Allen Jones, was born in Yorkshire, England, and his father Daniel H. Jones, was born in Aberdare Valley, South Wales. When Theodore was born, he was the third generation of singing coal miners in the family. His grandfather, the first to immigrate to the United States, was a coal miner who taught voice and violin in Wales. His father Daniel was also an established singer but furthered his interest in music by teaching his family to sing with an organ and piano. Daniel was first a foreman at the Diamond Mine of the Glen Alden Coal Company and was later transferred to Luzerne County in1932 to work as a foreman at the South Wilkes-Barre Colliery. He was considered one of the best local tenors and was a successful singer at concerts and the annual Eisteddfod music festivals. He sang at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, the Second Presbyterian, the Elm Park Church, and later at the Penn Avenue Baptist Church. Even though Daniel considered pursuing music, his responsibilities as a miner superintendent and provider made him pass his singing ambitions onto his son.
Daniel encouraged and trained Theodore’s promising voice from an early age of four years old. He would take him to local ice cream socials, parties, and church picnics for young Teddy to stand on chairs and sing a few tunes. At eight years of age, Theodore sang regularly at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and at eleven, he became a boy soprano soloist. Three years later after surpassing alto, he was the tenor soloist at the Immanuel Baptist Church. He also sang for a local Welsh-Choral Society group. During this time, his two voice teachers were Frank J. Daniels, a cathedral organist, and Sardee Kaiser. When he reached high school, not a week would go by without hearing Theodore perform in the auditorium. Some of his favorite pieces were “The Road to Mandalay,” “Marcheta,” and “My Wonderful One.”
At age sixteen, Theodore questioned his singing aspirations and thought of going to college to study engineering. He soon dropped that thought and instead began to save his money to study music. His mother helped him manage his money and the only money he spent was for his singing lessons. While in high school, his jobs ranged from elevator boy, baker’s assistant, messenger boy for a bank and clothing company, chauffeur, truck driver, and he worked in the school cafeteria and ran concessions for games on the weekends. During his vacations, he worked in his father’s coal mines for fifteen cents an hour, at frequently faced danger. One time, he fell fifteen feet and broke his wrist and another time, he had to wear a body brace after falling into a piece of machinery. At age seventeen, he entered the annual national Eisteddfod Tenor Solo Contest held at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, and sang the song, “The Willows.” He was the youngest of the fifteen participants and won the contest with audience members comparing his voice to that of a young John McCormack. After graduating from Central High School in 1926, he got a job as a coal truck driver for an independent company. One time, the steam shovel engineer was absent, so Theodore took his job for the day. He ended up loading more coal than then engineer ever did and got his job for seventy five dollars a week, working ten hours every day. At the peak of his intensive studies and rigorous work schedule, he quoted, “I have found that hard work and everlasting application to studies are the things that spell success, and I am getting these in abundance.”
By the end of the year, he had saved $1500 and won a scholarship to the Fine Arts College of Syracuse University Music School. He studied there for just a month before he received another scholarship to attend New York University and a course under university teacher, Claude Warford. He took another course in languages and also took lessons from famous soloist Madame Clara Novello Davies for a year. Thoroughly impressed with his musical gift, she once said, “The claim I have made for him -- that he will hereafter become one of the greatest tenors in the world -- is no exaggeration.” Still living in Scranton, Theodore had to commute 300 miles to New York for his studies. From then on, Warford was his main voice teacher and taught him for nothing. After finishing in New York, Warford directed him to study opera in Europe with Felix Leroux, the chef de chant of French National Opera (chief of singers). To raise money, Theodore held a “Farewell-to-Scranton” Benefit Concert in 1927 with a program including arias, oratorios, traditional Welsh songs, and other classical pieces. He received astounding reviews and raised $1100.
For the next two years he traveled with Warford between Paris and New York and studied in Paris at the Opera Comique. There, he sang under Professor Felix Leroux, who urged him to make opera his career. Theodore then sang with the Cannes Opera Company in Deauville, where a young Lily Pons was also studying. He was offered a contract with the Opera Comique but refused because it was for three years. He instead held a contract with the Cannes Opera Company and sang in several operas including “Manon,” “Romeo et Juliette,” “La Boheme,” and “Faust.” During the time he was under the direction of composer/conductor Reynaldo Hahn and studied oratorio in London with Sir Henry Wood. Warford took him to Paris for a total of three summers, and Theodore made a special trip to visit the village in Wales where his father was born. One of his fondest memories while in Europe was when he gave a recital at Raoul Duval’s home and was introduced to a “Mrs. Armstrong.” When he began to sing, she stopped him abruptly and gave him instructions on where to stand, how to move, and what to sing. He later found out that she was Dame Nellie Melba. She said to him, "You have everything necessary to take you far -- to the very top if you so desire. You have a glorious voice, splendid presence, your French is admirable and you possess youth. What more could a lad desire?" After their meeting, she wrote letters of encouragement to him for several years.
During this time, he had also been courting Marjorie Annette Bull. They married in 1929 in her hometown of Asbury Park, New Jersey. In 1929, he also became known in the musical world as “Allan” Jones. On his journey back to the states that year, he stopped to sing at St. John’s, in Newfoundland, and in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The same year, he sang in Dr. Ralph Vaughan Williams’ operetta, “Hugh, the Drover,” which featured an exciting climax with Hugh and the antagonist in a fighting match. It was received very well and performed at the English Musical Festival held at the Royal York Hotel (in Toronto, Ontario). When Allan would return to America during the winters, he sang in “The Plaza” concerts, in the Broadway radio stations of Steinway Hall, and as a soloist at the University Heights Presbyterian Church and Riverside Church. He eventually became a favorite radio singer and one of the most successful concert artists in the area. Upon his final return from Europe, he had saved a great deal of money but lost it, like many others, to the stock market crash. As opera suddenly became a luxury, his hopes of pursuing grand opera came to an end. Desperate for money, he sold blood to the blood banks and jumped at the chance to sing at St. Bartholomew’s Church every Sunday.
A year later on March 28, 1930, he and Marjorie welcomed their son, Theodore Allan Jones, Jr. Theodore, who goes by Ted, sang as a baritone when he was young with groups and still sings occasionally. His mother never let him pursue a singing career, but he ended up becoming very well known as the editor of Yachting magazine. The same year, Allan recorded the first “complete” recording of Bach’s “St. Mathew Passion” with the St. Bartholomew Choir. The album was released in a set of 24 twelve inch records and is extremely rare.
In 1931, Allan found a break and sang at Carnegie Hall in its first concert with the New York Symphony and New York Philharmonic Orchestras. He was under the direction of Walter Damrosch and sang with Anna Case. Allan was also the first soloist in the Rockefeller Memorial Church. During this time, he performed in many other concerts at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Cincinnati Symphony orchestra, Massey Hall in Toronto, Canada, the Chicago Symphony, and in London and Paris. His first stage show since being in the states was the same year at the New Yorker Theater with the Wagner Opera Comique series. President Charles L. Wagner gave him the title role in the English version of “Boccaccio,” even though it was tradition for a soprano to play the part. Before that season, the Metropolitan Opera Company produced the show and gave the title role to soprano Maria Jeritza. Overall, reviews felt that Allan gave a solid performance considering that the music of “Boccaccio” seemed to be ageing. Although it was not as successful as planned, it was there that Allan was discovered by the Shubert brothers. They signed him for a one year contract, but he ended up singing with them for a total of three years.
He then began perform leading and supporting roles with the St. Louis Municipal Opera Company and built a repertoire of twenty-eight operettas to go along with the twelve operas in six languages that he learned in Europe. Some of the operettas he performed were “Rip Van Winkle,” “Bittersweet,” “The New Moon,” “Cyrano de Bergerac,” and “Show Boat.” He also appeared in the Grand Opera House in Chicago and on Broadway. His first Broadway show was at the New Amsterdam Theater in 1933 He held a small part in “Roberta,” but gained recognition for his interpretation of “The Touch of Your Hand.” Another notable performance was in 1934. He starred with opera star Maria Jeritza in Rudolf Friml’s “Annina” before it reached Broadway where its title was changed to “Music Hath Charms” and the leading roles were recast. Along with the stage, Allan was also very busy with radio, concerts, and his prestigious position as the tenor soloist at St. Bartholomew’s Church in New York.
In 1934, Allan was discovered by MGM talent scout Al Altman during his performance in “Annina.” MGM gave him a five year contract with a salary of $1500 per week. The studios felt that he along with other actors like Nelson Eddy and Robert Taylor satisfied current demands for the “matinee idol” type of performer and for more John Barrymores. Allan was Louis B. Mayer’s first choice to play opposite Jeanette MacDonald in the operetta film, “Naughty Marietta,” which was produced in 1935. MacDonald, on the other hand, preferred Nelson Eddy because of his looks, so Mayer settled for him. Allan was too late to take the role anyways because he had to borrow a large sum of money to buy himself a release from the Shuberts. This delayed his opportunity to make a prominent screen appearance, for his screen debut that year was a very small part in the musical “Reckless,” starring Jean Harlow and William Powell. He played a stage singer and recorded the song, “Evry’thing’s Been Done Before” and then was briefly heard and seen in the “Trocadero” musical number. He was originally supposed to sing three songs including “Reckless,” but they were cut from the film and his debut screen time was greatly reduced. This was just the beginning of his struggle to launch his career at MGM.
His next film still the same year was significantly more exciting. He starred in the hilarious Marx Brothers film, “A Night at the Opera” and sang opposite Kitty Carlisle. At that point, Zeppo Marx had left the comedy team and the following Marx films substituted him with love interests. Allan and Carlisle played Italian opera singers who aspire to one day sing together on stage. Seeking perfection for the opera sequences, the director, Sam Wood, was going to dub both of their voices with Metropolitan Opera singers but that idea soon crumbled after Allan vehemently protested with Carlisle by his side. After comparing their recording to the Metropolitan recording Wood chose theirs. Another surprise was that Allan’s song number, “Alone,” was going to be cut out because Groucho and Chico thought it slowed down the movie. Allan took action again and convinced producer Irving Thalberg that it would be a hit. It was a good thing that he did, because “Alone” became Allan’s first hit song before “The Donkey Serenade.” He also sang the aria, “Miserere” from the opera, “Il Trovatore” with Carlisle and recorded one of his signature songs, “Cosi, Cosa.” Another interesting note about the film was that it was the first picture to be rehearsed before live audiences.
Before filming began, Allan and the Marx Brothers made a stage tour and followed a rigorous schedule of traveling back and forth to practice and test the comedy scenes. In the spring they traveled to Salt Lake City, to the Western State, and then to San Francisco where they preformed for live audiences. During this period, they did five shows a day, six days a week, and all of that for eight whole weeks, before filming began in June. All the while, Allan recalled how Groucho would constantly come up to him asking for his opinion of certain lines or jokes. Allan was also a victim of the Marx Brothers’ gags. On the first day of filming, the brothers sent Kitty Carlisle two dozen roses with a card signed “Allan Jones” sent C.O.D. He was embarrassed, but Kitty had a good sense of humor. While they were filming, Allan was very shy, especially because he was working with the famous Marx Brothers. He also struggled with learning how to look charming for the camera while lip-synching. With some encouragement from Groucho, he worked his way through the film, understanding that it would be his big chance.
Unfortunately, Allan’s success did not come quickly after his work with the Marx Brothers. Both he and Judy Garland were signed up to be in the 1936 film, “Born to Dance” but were later replaced in the final decision making. He had also been considered to be in “Broadway Melody of 1935” but these plans were never executed either. Instead, Allan’s next role was again very small in the Macdonald-Eddy film, “Rose-Marie.” However, his part as a stage tenor gave him the chance to sing more opera selections, this time from “Romeo et Juliette” and “Tosca.” In the first version of he completed film, Allan sang the “Tosca” aria, “E lucevan e stelle,” but the scene was cut from the final version. Nelson Eddy felt threatened by Allan’s growing presence and threatened to strike if it was included. Afterwards, Allan appeared in “The Great Ziegfeld” but in voice only and was not credited. He dubbed a young Dennis Morgan (who was going by his real name, Stanley Morner) in the song “A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody.” One source says that Morgan had a cold and could not sing at the time.
Fortunately, Allan was lent out by MGM and landed his first leading role as Gaylord Ravenal in Universal Studio’s 1936 version of “Show Boat” (the first film was a mostly silent version made in 1929). The story goes that director James Whale and producer Carl Laemmle Jr. auditioned over a dozen actors before discovering Allan in “A Night at the Opera.” Upon viewing the film, they were convinced that he could play the romantic lead. The cast included other great stars including Irene Dunne as Magnolia Hawks, Charles Winninger, Paul Robeson, and Hattie McDaniel. He and Dunne recorded the duet, “I Have the Room Above” which was written specially for the film. Some consider this version to be the best representation of Edna Ferber’s classic novel and one of Allan’s best screen roles. He later starred in two “Show Boat” radio shows and recorded the songs “Make Believe” and “Why Do I Love You?,” which frequently appeared in his live performances. After finishing the film, Allan paid homage to his roots and offered twenty-six prizes to Syracuse residents who submitted stories of their road to success. A cash prize went to the winning story and the next best 25 applicants received tickets to see “Show Boat” in theaters.
During this time, Allan divorced from his wife, Marjorie Bull, and married actress Irene Hervey. Bull got full custody of their son Ted and took him to live back east, but Ted was able to visit his father often in California. Allan and Irene Hervey met at a New Year’s Eve party and moved into their Brentwood home where they would live until the 1950s. When Allan and Irene married, he adopted her daughter, Gail (from a previous marriage). The next year in 1937 Allan scored his most well known role in the screen version of Rudolf Friml’s operetta, “The Firefly.” He sang opposite to Jeanette Macdonald, who insisted he be in the film, hoping that it would lift him out of the rut he was in since Nelson Eddy took off. She also wished to take a break from Eddy and also liked Allan’s ability to act confidently, unlike Eddy who was very self-conscious. From the very beginning of filming, MacDonald made sure that Allan was treated equally and given the same amount of screen time. She and Allan also remained friends after the film. Allan was an usher at her wedding, attended a special garden tea party with other musical guests like Lily Pons and Irene Dunne at her home, and went Christmas caroling with her and other friends through Brentwood and Beverly Hills. When she passed away in 1965, she gifted him and Nelson Eddy each with a silver platter etched with a scene from “Rose-Marie” and “The Firefly.”
Most notably, Allan recorded his ultimate signature song, “The Donkey Serenade.” Filming for the scene where he serenades Macdonald in a mule-drawn carriage was on location in Lone Pine (part of Mount Whitney). During one of the takes, Allan’s horse, Smokey, got caught between a rock prop and the stagecoach, which left Allan with an injured foot and crutches for few days. “The Donkey Serenade” was adapted by Herbert Stothart from Friml’s 1923 piano solo, “Chanson,” and received new lyrics by Chet Forrest and Robert Wright. Friml originally titled it “Lady Fair” earlier and wrote it for “Ziegfeld Follies of 1923.” He later changed it to be a lullaby called “In Love” and then a foxtrot called “Chanson,” but all versions were never popular. Some sources claim that Allan’s rendition of the song became a favorite of Friml’s and he requested that Allan sing it at his funeral in 1972. Others say that hearing Allan’s new, catchy version of the song enraged Friml and led to a copyright suit with MGM that was settled out of court. Consequently, Friml’s real feelings of the song remain undetermined.
“The Donkey Serenade” not only marked Allan’s career for the rest of his life, but his 1938 recording of it on RCA Victor records was the third largest record seller in RCA history. It is only bested by an Elvis Presley hit and Tommy Dorsey’s “Boogie Woogie.” Despite the success of the songs, “The Firefly” did not bring in as much money as expected, probably due to the fact that fans were already enamored with the “MacEddy” team. Likewise, the critics gave it mixed reviews, criticizing the seriousness of the plot and treating the grandeur of the production as both a strength and weakness. Furthermore, even though the film was the fifteenth biggest grossing movie during 1937-1938, it only paid back about one-tenth of the production costs. The failure of the film to meet expectations convinced Mayer that Allan was no longer profitable and permanently ruined their relationship.
Not surprisingly, Allan’s second to last film at MGM was another supporting role in the 1937 Marx Brother comedy, “A Day at the Races.” He did not want to make the film and thought it would do little for his career, but the studios made a deal with him earlier that he could not make “The Firefly” unless he starred in this film. This not only slowed him down yet again but also added to his growing frustration with the film industry. Allan recorded three songs for the film, but one of them, “A Message from the Man in the Moon,” was cut and instead sung by Groucho. One of his songs, “Blue Venetian Waters” was during an elaborate water carnival scene with an additional ballet number. Allan did not particularly like singing this song, feeling that it was too extravagant and that the ballet slowed down the film. Later in the film, the “All God’s Chillun Got Rhythm” number featured a group of black singers where a very young Dorothy Dandridge made one of her first screen appearances. During this time, Roy Rogers had made a string of successful musical westerns and such a movie was briefly sought out as a vehicle for Allan. Sources also say that he was going to be the Eleanor Powell musical, “Honolulu” but this did not happen either.
Another film that Allan was considered for was the MacDonald-Eddy operetta, “The Girl of the Golden West” of 1938. MacDonald pushed Mayor to give Allan the part, believing that his horseman skills and proven dramatic presence in “The Firefly” towered over what Eddy could offer. In contrast, Mayer believed that another MacDonald-Jones teaming would be just as unsuccessful as “The Firefly.” He used the film’s disappointing profits as evidence and still held a grudge with Allan, whom he called “cocky” and disliked. So, he ended up choosing Eddy despite MacDonald’s opinions, and indirectly contributed to the existing rumors of a Jones-Eddy feud. The general public consensus was that he and Eddy were great enemies, especially since Eddy made “Naughty Marietta” and quickly reached fame. However, there was no truth to these rumors, and the two were actually good friends and gave recitals together. Allan once jokingly said that he was training Smokey to trample Eddy life-size cutouts and people quickly manipulated his words once it reached Eddy. After the MacEddy team prevailed, Allan and Eddy socialized in different crowds and parted ways. There were never any hard feelings between them.
The next year in 1938, Allan received top billing in his last MGM film, “Everybody Sing” and played a singing Italian cook aspiring to produce a show. It had an all star cast including Judy Garland, Billie Burke, Fanny Brice, and Reginald Owen. The cast and film were featured on the radio show, “Good News of 1938” and was received with good but not outstanding reviews. The main highlights of the film are Allan’s short reprise of “Cosi, Cosa” and recording of “The One I Love” which he also recorded for RCA. However, more trouble arose between Allan and MGM, specifically between him and MGM executive Eddie Mannix. Not willing to kowtow again to the studios, Allan first refused for his character, Tony, to be an organ-grinder, which was originally written in the script. Then, the studios suspended him from his contract when he vehemently refused to adopt a thick Italian accent for his role. As punishment, he was kept idle for a year and treated more like a back-up for Nelson Eddy. The studios refused to loan him out to other studios, terminate his contract, or release him to go on tour. Even though this meant that Allan would not be working for the remainder of his contract, the studios continued to pay him as they had before.
For a whole year he had a large amount of spare time and did not waste it. He used the opportunity to continue studying voice and acting. He took daily lessons from Jeanette Macdonald’s voice teacher, Grace Newell and attended Emma Dunn’s dramatic school. By the end of Allan’s time to further his studies, he had two goals in mind; one to act in a non-singing role either in film or Broadway, and the other to sing at the Metropolitan. Allan also developed several hobbies at his Brentwood ranch. He had a passion for horses, and became a very accomplished horseman in Hollywood circles. His faithful half-Arabian horse, Smokey, costarred with him in “The Firefly” and was one of the best roping horses west of the Mississippi. He and actor friend Robert Young owned and ran Bel-Air Stables where they boarded horses, offered riding lessons, and did shows. A year later, the stables were bought by Joe Drown and he converted them into the Bel-Air Hotel. He also had two trick ponies, Mack and Buster, who he trained to do several tricks. Allan was quite a sportsman as well and excelled in badminton, swimming, boxing, golfing, tennis, and polo. Later in life, he became the vice president of the El Dorado Polo Club in Palm Desert. Another passion of his was sailing off the coast of southern California on his ship, the “Alrene,” clearly a trait that he passed on to son, Ted. He later learned to fly, owned an airplane, and also was a mechanic by hobby. He liked to build small motor vehicles for his family and owned a motorcycle. During this time, MGM featured him in the small movie short, “Hollywood Hobbies.”
The real “Good News of 1938” was the birth of his and Irene’s son, John Allan Jones. John, soon called Jack, was born the night that he recorded “The Donkey Serenade” and Allan often joked that he named him Jack because it was slang for money. Like Ted, Jack also inherited Allan’s singing talent. Jack later launched his own singing career and performed with his father in the 1970s. MGM finally released Allan from his contract in 1939 and he left for Paramount Studios where he was promised to make two or three films a year. After his experience with MGM, Allan learned to become more headstrong when dealing with the studios and hoped for better treatment at a new studio. Towards the end of his film career, he gained the respect of producers and later said, “You can say what you like about the Louis B. Mayers and the heads of the studios in my day. They were not educated, they were pretty crude, but they wanted to improve themselves and they wanted to improve the public.”
Unfortunately, Allan’s first picture at Paramount was the non-musical, “Honeymoon in Bali” starring Fred MacMurray and Madeleine Carroll. He did manage to squeeze in an excellent performance of “O Paradis” from Meyebeer’s “L’Africaine” and a snippet of two other songs. The studios also had him try out a thin mustache for the film and for his next in 1939, “The Great Victor Herbert.” This was the biggest musical production he was in since “The Firefly” and featured numerous Herbert classics for Allan to sing with co-stars Mary Martin and Susanna Foster. This was Martin’s fist film and she recalled how Allan taught her all the tricks to acting in front of a camera. He told her about the best camera angles, when to do retakes, and how to make things easier. Allan later recorded three songs from the film, “I’m Falling in Love with Someone,” Sweethearts,” and “Thine Alone.” Although the film was popular, some say it did not contain enough information on Herbert himself. Instead of providing biographical information, it followed Herbert’s musical hits through a dramatic plot line very similar to that of “Show Boat.”
In 1940, he dropped the mustache and was given another substantial musical opportunity in “The Boys from Syracuse.” It was adapted from the Rogers and Hart Broadway production and the story itself was based on Shakespeare’s “A Comedy of Errors.” Allan played the role of the twin Syracusean brothers, with Rosemary Lane and wife Irene Hervey as the twins’ love interest and wife, respectively. He also recorded the popular songs, “Falling in Love with Love” and “Who Are You.” The same year, he starred in Abbott and Costello’s film debut, “One Night in the Tropics” with Robert Cummings, and got to sing three songs by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields. The next year, he made one film, “There’s Magic in Music” which mostly featured the talented child musicians at the Interlochen music camp. At one point Allan did a screen test to play the Red Shadow in “The Desert Song,” which would have also starred Margaret Lindsay, but this film was instead made by Warner Brothers in 1943 and starred Dennis Morgan and Irene Manning. From then on until 1945, he made nine more musicals, four of them geared towards the war effort, and some including familiar stars like Kitty Carlisle, William Frawley, Anne Miller, and Bonita Granville. They were all Grade B movies and only ran a little over an hour, but Allan did have the chance to sing a lot of songs, most of them popular. One film in 1943 was a cameo appearance in the comedy “Crazy House,” where gave a performance of “The Donkey Serenade.”
While still in the film industry, Allan continued to sing in concerts on stage in a few operettas and musicals, and over the radio. His concerts often included a repertoire of classical songs that he sang before studying in Europe and a few songs from his films, especially “The Donkey Serenade.” In 1942, he joined a revival of “The Chocolate Soldier” and in 1944 he starred in the Broadway musical, “Jackpot,” but both shows did not run for very long. Allan also recorded several more songs for RCA, most of which were from his films. For the war effort, Allan was one of the first to volunteer to sing for troops overseas and traveled to Italy, Alaska, Ireland, England, and Africa. He also enjoyed touring military camps in the U.S. and gave many USO camp shows, eventually appearing in almost every camp in the Carolinas. In one of his USO shows in 1943, he sang at the Fort McClellan amphitheater despite a sore throat and cold. He loved singing for solider audiences and found the whole experience truly “gratifying.” After making his last film, “Senorita from the West,” at Universal in 1945, he grew tired of the film industry and bought out the remainder of his contract for $40,000. He would not return to the movies until the 1960s.
After leaving Hollywood, Allan entered a new phase in his career that involved overseas performances, concerts, musical tours, and television. Even though it appeared that his career would wane after leaving the cameras, he continued to receive numerous theater, concert, and film offers both in the U.S. and Great Britain. He responded to many of the theater and concert offers but never ones for film unless they were just to his liking. Having starred in over two dozen films, he once said, “Film musicals are very specialized. There are so few good ones made, even in Hollywood, which reputedly is their home. I didn’t even want to risk an unsuccessful picture.” In the late 1940s, he sang in a few operetta productions including “The Firefly,” “The Merry Widow,” and “East Wind.” He also recorded three record albums for RCA, “Allan Jones Sings Cole Porter,” “Falling in Love,” and “The Firefly.” In the first album was a collection of big band Porter hits, the second a compilation of romantic ballads from several of his films, and the third album was a collaboration with the Al Goodman orchestra and features songs from the original score of “The Firefly.” He recorded many other songs on individual records and even co-wrote one called, “Bless You, My Sweet” under his pen name, John Allan. Next for Allan were frequent boat trips with Irene, Gail, and Jack to England where he continued his singing career.
In England, Allan found new audiences, new fan bases, and new success. Not a day would go by at the stage doors or on the streets where he was not surrounded by eager fans begging for autographs and pictures. He not only always greeted his fans but also became friends with some of them and continued to visit or write to them over the years. For a total of six years, the traveled back and forth to England where he toured with his own company. He made several more recordings in 1947 and 1949, including the songs, “Silvia,” “Great Day,” “Do I Love You?” “While the Angelus Was Ringing”(an all-English version of “Les Trois cloches”) and “You’re Breaking My Heart.” He also gave live performances in several concerts. He sang at the London Palladium, The Winter Gardens Pavilion, and also joined the group of American and British entertainers who performed in the Royal Variety Performance for the King and Queen in 1950. The same year, Allan suffered from a heart attack while in Manchester, England and collapsed during a concert. He spent the night at the hospital and rested for a week before returning to the theaters. After his first three years in England, the Jones’ returned to the states where Allan starred in the original national road company of the musical “Guys and Dolls.” Frank Loesser wrote the part of Sky Masterson for Allan but he was busy at the time that it was cast for Broadway in 1950.
Back in the states, Allan and Irene relocated to New York City. Irene then traveled with him in the “Guys and Dolls” tour. He played Sky Masterson and the show ran for 1200 performances from 1950 to 1958. In 1952, Gail and her husband Les Parnell of the Page Kavanaugh Trio had their first child. When Gail was married earlier, Allan walked her down the aisle. Throughout the 1950s, Allan made several musical shorts (Snader Telescriptions) on TV and was a guest star on “The Abbott & Costello Show” in 1953. He sang a medley of his songs from his “Falling in Love” record album and of course, “The Donkey Serenade.” Fortunately for Allan, the growing popularity of TV over other forms of entertainment was not a problem. He always felt that his varied career in movies and on the stage had long prepared him for his TV debut. His experience in film made him “camera-wise,” able to sing while maintaining a pleasant facial expression, and endure long hours under bright lights. The times he spent performing operettas taught him to memorize lines quickly and not rely on a script. He generally believed that those with theatrical experience could easily master television.
With most of his spare time, Allan continued to work with horses and trained and bred thoroughbreds for the racetrack. He also continued to participate in the mining business and had one project in Northern Canada. Another hobby of his was sound recording which he used to record his voice at home. Still in touch with the Hollywood circle, he sang the National Anthem at a dinner held by the Masquers Club in Judy Garland’s honor. In 1957, Allan and Irene divorced and Irene never married again. The same year, he married Mary Florsheim Picking, an heiress to her father’s shoe company. Another event that year was 19-year-old Jack’s first professional performance. He did a number with Allan while he was performing a nightclub act at the Thunderbird Hotel in Las Vegas. Allan recalled that Jack was such a perfectionist that he practiced all day before the night of the show. Between 1957 and 1964, Allan chose to “quit” concerts and the stage for a while and was temporarily retired, although he did continue to appear on television. He was a guest star and played the villain in the show “77 Sunset Strip” in 1963 and also sang on “The Tonight Show with Steve Allen” the following year. In 1964, Allan’s marriage to Mary ended, supposedly because she wanted him to end his singing career permanently. In 1965, he made a 34 second appearance in the film, “A Swingin’ Summer” and delivered four lines. The movie involved teenagers and beach parties but is most known for the debut of Raquel Welch. Many sources say that Allan also appeared in “Stage to Thunder Rock” in 1964 and “A Man Called Sledge” in 1970, but these roles have not been confirmed.
For the remaining years in the 1960s, he returned to the stage and did a few more shows including “The Happy Time,” “The Merry Widow,” “The Student Prince” (which he first performed in 1933), and “How to Succeed in Show Business without Really Trying.” In 1967 he married Cuban-born ballerina Maria Villavincie, whom he was with until his death. Close friends observed that it was with Maria that Allan was the closest. The following year, he recorded two of his last albums, “Allan Jones Sings Only the Greatest” and “Allan Jones Sings for A Man and a Woman.” The two albums were recorded between New York and Hollywood and feature some of the same songs. Allan recorded some of his classic film songs including “The Donkey Serenade” and “Giannina Mia,” songs from his stage shows in the 1950s, and a few contemporary pieces. The next decade summoned some of Allan’s last major tours and contributions to television.
In 1971 until the late 1970s, Allan Jones made his last big tour playing Don Quixote in a successful production of “Man of La Mancha.” The first year of the show, Allan Jones won the Strawhat Achievement Award for Best Actor. The award was sponsored by the Council of Stock Theaters, the trade group for summer theaters. The hit song from the show, “The Impossible Dream” became a signature song for both Allan and Jack Jones. Allan also starred in productions of “Fantasticks,” “Paint Your Wagon,” “Blossom Time” (which he first performed in 1932), and “Silk Stockings.” Although he was never given the opportunity to leave his prints at Grauman's Chinese Theater, he was able to leave his mark in Greenwich Village, New York City, in front of Theater 80 St. Mark's Place. He left one handprint, his signature, and dated it December 22, 1971. In December of 1973, he became the first non-Jewish observer to be invited by the United Jewish Appeal in Israel. He was invited to entertain troops in battlefields and hospitals and brought a home-recorded tape of musical accompaniment for his performances. Unfortunately, in 1976, an electrical fire ravaged Allan’s apartment in New York. The fire started while he was rewinding a tape and destroyed one room along with precious and irreplaceable phonograph records that he made, business records, and pictures, including one of him with Clark Gable.
During the 1970s, Allan made his final mark on television. In 1974, Allan made an appearance on the “Jack Jones Special” presented by Monsanto over TV. He and Jack sang the duet, “I Remember it Well” and reminisced about old times. He made another appearance in 1977 on “The Jack Jones Show” and sang “The Impossible Dream” and a duet of “The Donkey Serenade” with Jack. This duet became a signature act for them and they continued to sing it together on tours. Whenever they would arrive at their next show, Jack would quickly try to escape from the crowds while Allan stayed to mingle with fans. In 1980, they starred as father and son on a Christmas episode of “The Love Boat” and gave another performance of “The Donkey Serenade.” The plot of this episode reflected a real occurrence in their lives when their relationship was strained by the onset of Jack’s growing success. Overall, he and Jack were very close and performed together until his death. To this day, Jack always gives a tribute to his father by playing a film on screen during his concerts. By the end of his career, Allan appeared on several TV shows including those with Johnny Carson, Mike Douglas, and Merv Griffin.
In 1979, he recorded his last album with singer Patti Stevens and the Bavarian Symphony Orchestra. It was recorded for the 100th anniversary of Rudolf Friml's birth. Allan and Patti Stevens recorded it in Munich and Hollywood, and Jack provided a vocal dub-over and was the mix-down engineer. The album included songs from Friml’s “The Firefly,” “Rose Marie,” and “The Vagabond King.” Allan’s final recording was Victor Herbert’s "Toyland” and it was made for a benefit for the Papermill Playhouse. Some of his last stage shows were “Student Prince” and “Naughty Marietta” in the 1980s and a return as Don Quixote in “Man of La Mancha.” In 1981, he completed an eight week tour of night club acts and TV in England and Scotland. In March of 1992, Allan finished his last successful tour in Australia and had plans to tour again in England. With his voice still in good shape, he was booked well into the 1990s, most of them return bookings. To honor his contribution to the music and film industry, Hollywood made him a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at the very tail end of Hollywood Blvd.
On Saturday June 27, 1992, Allan Jones succumbed to lung cancer and died at the age of 84. He passed at the Lenox Hill Hospital, was cremated, and had a private burial. His gravesite is in Duryea, on the outskirts of Scranton, Pennsylvania, where his parents are also buried. He was survived at the time by his wife Maria, step daughter, two sons, seven grandchildren, and two great grandchildren.