In Morticia's Shadow: The Life and Career of Carolyn Jones

Book Cover


20th Century (multiple decades)

James Pylant

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Before captivating America as Morticia in “The Addams Family,” actress Carolyn Jones appeared in 30 movies and had a decade-long marriage to producer Aaron Spelling. But the road to Hollywood from her native Amarillo, Texas, was studded with rejection and typecasting.



Short Summary

During her lonely childhood in the Texas Panhandle, Carolyn Jones escapes from her strict, volatile family home through stories flashing on the silver screen. Transforming her walk-in closet into a dressing room and her bedroom into a stage, Carolyn performs before a make-believe audience.

Stereotyped by her iconic “Addams Family” role, Carolyn struggles to find work. Yet terminal illness strikes just as she is cast in a new role. Dying, she determines to breathe life into the character—giving her one last chance to revisit a facet of her personality: the tough, strong leading lady.


Texas, Hollywood

Based on a True Story


Plot - Premise

Rags to Riches,Internal Journey/Rebirth

Plot - Other Elements

Meaningful Message

Mature Audience Themes

Information not completed

Main Character Details

Name: Carolyn Jones

Age: Childhood to 53

Gender: Female

Role: Protagonist

Key Traits: Adventurous,Charming,Complex,Confident,Engaging,Gracious,Sexy,Outspoken,Skillful,Funny,Secretive,Seductive,Sophisticated

Additional Character Details

The author has not yet written this

Additional Character Details

The author has not yet written this

Additional Character Details

The author has not yet written this

Development Pitch

In the midst of a divorce in the mid-1960s, movie star Carolyn Jones has no interest in the small screen. But her soon-to-be former husband, producer Aaron Spelling, pleads with her to portray Morticia in a new TV series, “The Addams Family.” She agrees, not imagining her indelible impact upon millions of fans. In transforming the cartoon character to life, the actress creates a mystique that forever entwines Carolyn with Morticia. In this true, family-authorized story, Carolyn copes with parental abandonment and a tense, volatile childhood. She finds confidence to project allure as an actress while believing she lacks Hollywood beauty. Failed marriages, financial loss, ageism, and typecasting gnaw at Carolyn. Yet she learns to gratefully accept small acting roles. Facing a terminal cancer diagnosis at 51, Carolyn resolves to shed her hurt, bitter feelings. She triumphantly returns to TV, breathing vivacity into a starring role as her own life slowly ebbs away. “Addams Family” reruns continually spawn a new generation of Carolyn Jones fans around the world. She and her alter ego are the subjects of countless YouTube tributes. The 2021 release of “The Addams Family 2” and Tim Burton’s plans for a new “Addams Family” series paves the path for a movie about the inspiring true story of the mesmerizing, iconic actress who brought Morticia to life.

About The Author

James Pylant, a former newspaper columnist and magazine editor, worked as a professional genealogist in Salt Lake City. The author of “In Morticia’s Shadow: The Life and Career of Carolyn Jones,” he has also written four true-crime volumes: “Blood Legacy: The True Story of the Snow Axe Murders,” “Sins of the Pioneers: Crimes and Scandals in a Small Texas Town,” “The Oldest Profession in Texas: Waco’s Legal Red-Light District” (coauthored), and “Texas Gothic: Fame, Crime, and Crazy Water.”

Target Audiences

Age: 18-34,35-54,55+

Target Gender: Universal

Group Specific

"Addams Family" fans, classic TV fans

Publishing Details

Status: Yes: self-published

Publisher: Jacobus Books

Year Published: 2012

Hard Copy Available