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Also Known As: Died:
Born: November 21, 1956 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Paris, Tennessee, USA Profession: actor, waitress

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

During her more than two decades on the stage, heavily honored Broadway actress and occasional screen player Cherry Jones earned Tony Awards for "The Heiress" and John Patrick Shanley's "Doubt." Jones' affinity for independent, heroic females carried over into her screen appearances, which increased in the new millennium to include supporting roles as a fellow opponent of environmental poisoning in "Erin Brockovich" (2000) and the matriarch Grandma Buggy in "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" (2002). When she was approached to take on the role of the courageous and idealistic first female President of the United States on the espionage drama "24" (Fox, 2001- ), primetime audiences were finally granted the opportunity to enjoy one of Broadway's finest actors from the comfort of their own living rooms.Born on Nov. 21, 1956, Jones was raised in the small town of Paris, TN, by a schoolteacher mother and a father who owned a flower shop. Jones' grandmother, who lived with the family, was an avid movie fan and encouraged her to be an actress from the moment she began to show childhood interest. Jones was accepted into the theater program at Carnegie-Mellon University and following her 1978 graduation...

During her more than two decades on the stage, heavily honored Broadway actress and occasional screen player Cherry Jones earned Tony Awards for "The Heiress" and John Patrick Shanley's "Doubt." Jones' affinity for independent, heroic females carried over into her screen appearances, which increased in the new millennium to include supporting roles as a fellow opponent of environmental poisoning in "Erin Brockovich" (2000) and the matriarch Grandma Buggy in "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" (2002). When she was approached to take on the role of the courageous and idealistic first female President of the United States on the espionage drama "24" (Fox, 2001- ), primetime audiences were finally granted the opportunity to enjoy one of Broadway's finest actors from the comfort of their own living rooms.

Born on Nov. 21, 1956, Jones was raised in the small town of Paris, TN, by a schoolteacher mother and a father who owned a flower shop. Jones' grandmother, who lived with the family, was an avid movie fan and encouraged her to be an actress from the moment she began to show childhood interest. Jones was accepted into the theater program at Carnegie-Mellon University and following her 1978 graduation with a drama degree, she spent a year with the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Theater Company. She became a founding member of The American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA in 1980, and over the next six years performed in some 25 plays by Shakespeare, Chekhov and Brecht, among others. Jones began to make occasional screen performances with supporting roles in the made-for-television movie "Alex: The Life of a Child" (ABC, 1986) and Paul Schrader's sadly dated chronicle of a blue collar bar band, "Light of Day" (1987), starring Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett.

The Tommy Tune-directed musical "Stepping Out" (1987) marked Jones' Broadway debut, after which she returned to the boards the following year to essay Lady Macduff in the Christopher Plummer-Glenda Jackson production of "Macbeth." Her first real round of attention came with her 1991 performance in "Our Country's Good," a play about inmates in Australia's first 18th century penal colony, which earned Cherry her first Tony nomination for Best Actress in a Play. In 1992, Jones was recognized with an OBIE Award for her starring role in "The Baltimore Waltz," Paula Vogel's drama about a fantasy vacation involving two siblings, one of whom is dying of AIDS. She reunited with Vogel for "And Baby Makes Seven," playing one half of a lesbian couple and parents-to-be. Over the next few years, she also enjoyed a number of replacement roles in Tony Kushner's "Angels in America: Millennium Approaches" and "Angels in America: Perestroika."

In her first Tony Award and Drama Desk Award-winning performance, Jones took the lead as a woman who gets revenge on the scheming lover who broke her heart in a Broadway revival of "The Heiress" (1995). Her Tony acceptance speech marked a significant moment for gay rights advocates, with the actress thanking her then-partner and outing herself to become the first openly lesbian Tony winning actress. The following year, she was welcomed back to Broadway in a revival of the Tennessee Williams drama "The Night of the Iguana," and began to increase her screen appearances with supporting roles as the deaf maid Lucy in Alan Wade's interesting "Julian Po" (1997) and as a veterinarian in Robert Redford's ranch-set romance "The Horse Whisperer" (1998).

Jones succeeded in the difficult challenge of playing the 90-year-old lead in the memoir "Pride's Crossing" (1997-98), which earned another round of Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards. She built further screen recognition with her portrayal of the head of the Depression era Federal Theater Project in Tim Robbins' "Cradle will Rock" (1999), which she followed with supporting parts in the Hollywood-made "Erin Brockovich" (2000) and "The Perfect Storm" (2000). For her lead performance in a Broadway revival of Eugene O'Neill's "A Moon for the Misbegotten" (2000), Jones earned another Tony nomination for Best Actress in a Play and stayed in the neighborhood to star in a revival of George Bernard Shaw's "Major Barbara," as the titular, power-crazed lead. In her first leading role in a television movie, she costarred with Brooke Shields in "What Makes a Family?" (Lifetime, 2001), based on the true story of a lesbian mother's fight to maintain custody of her child following the death of her partner.

Venturing further, but cautiously, into the lucrative world of film, Jones gave a memorable turn as the matriarch Grandma Buggy in "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" (2002) and appeared in two thrillers from M. Night Shyamalan, "Signs" (2002) and "The Village" (2004). In the ensemble heist sequel "Ocean's 12" (2004), Jones had a small but crucial role as the mother of Matt Damon's conman character. Returning to her first love, Jones took Broadway by storm once again with her more than 500 performances as Sister Aloysius in John Patrick Shanley's moral drama "Doubt." She took home another Tony Award statue in 2005 before quickly turning around to give a Drama Desk Award-nominated performance in the Broadway revival of "Faith Healer." In 2009, Jones accepted her first regular television series role, where she was well cast as the pragmatic, idealistic first female American president, Allison Taylor, on the hit espionage series "24" (Fox, 2001- ). For her work that year, she earned an Emmy Award win for Outstanding Supporting Actress - the first such recognition of her illustrious career.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
 New Year's Eve (2011)
3.
 Beaver, The (2011)
4.
 Amelia (2009)
5.
 Mother and Child (2009)
6.
 Swimmers (2005)
7.
 Village, The (2004) Mrs. Clark
8.
 Ocean's Twelve (2004) Cast
9.
 Signs (2002) Officer Paski
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Following graduation from college, spent a year with the BAM Theater Company at the Brooklyn Academy of Music
1980:
Found a berth in the American Repertory Theater (Cambridge) for its inaugural season; did 25 plays in 6 seasons
1983:
Made television debut in the failed detective pilot "O'Malley"
1986:
First TV-movie, played Tina Crawford in "Alex: The Life of a Child" (ABC)
1987:
Made Broadway debut in "Stepping Out"; directed by Tommy Tune
1987:
Feature film debut in Paul Schrader's "Light of Day"; co-starred with Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett
1988:
Played Lady Macduff in the Christopher Plummer-Glenda Jackson production of "Macbeth"
1991:
Breakthrough stage role, playing the toughened and much abused ex-convict Liz Morden in Timberlake Wertenbaker's "Our Country's Good" on Broadway; earned her first Tony nomination
1992:
Won acclaim for her performance in Paula Vogel's Off-Broadway play "The Baltimore Waltz"
1995:
Delivered a Tony Award-winning performance as the meek yet defiant Catherine Sloper in the hit Lincoln Center revival of Ruth and Augustus Goetz's 1947 drama "The Heiress"
1995:
Starred in 18-minute short, "Polio Water"; written and directed by Caroline Kava
1996:
Lent her voice to the PBS documentary "The West"
1997:
Played deaf maid Lucy in Wade Allen's "Julian Po"
1997:
Appeared on stage in Tina Howe's "Pride's Crossing"
1998:
Had pivotal role as a veterinarian in Robert Redford's "The Horse Whisperer"
1999:
Played Hallie Flanagan in "Cradle Will Rock"; directed by Tim Robbins
2000:
Returned to the stage as Josie Hogan in O'Neill's "A Moon for the Misbegotten"; earned a Best Actress Tony nomination
2000:
Had featured role in Wolfgang Petersen's "The Perfect Storm"
2001:
Co-starred with Brooke Shields in the Lifetime movie "What Makes a Family"
2001:
Played the title role in the Broadway revival of "Major Barbara"
2002:
Had featured role in "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood"
2002:
Co-starred with Swoosie Kurtz in the Nora Ephron play "Imaginary Friends" on Broadway
2002:
Appeared with Mel Gibson in the M. Night Shyamalan thriller "Signs"
2004:
Re-teamed with director M. Night Shyamalan for "The Village"
2005:
Starred as Sister Aloysius in the Boradway production of "Doubt"
2006:
Appeared opposite Ralph Fiennes, in the Broadway production of the "Faith Healer"
2007:
Joined the cast of "24" (FOX) in its seventh season, playing President Allison Taylor
2009:
Portrayed Eleanor Roosevelt in Mira Nair's biopic, "Amelia," based on the life of Amelia Earhart
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Carnegie-Mellon University: Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania - 1978

Notes

Jones won Joseph Jefferson Awards in Chicago for her Goodman Theater performances as Hannah Jelkes in "The Night of the Iquana" and in the title role in "The Good Person of Setzuan"

"The parts sent my way are usually in films I wouldn't be caught dead in because they're either horribly violent or lack any kind of hope and optimism. I just can't bear that. So many people in my business whom I love and respect . . . get filthy rich cramming this violent message down America's throat every night." --Cherry Jones in USA TODAY, June 5, 1995

"I suppose my bitterness about Hollywood comes from having lost so many of my friends to Los Angeles. Still, I've rarely known an actor who's moved there to achieve a higher level of artistry. It's about fame and fortune and with fame and fortune comes a tremendous amount of compromise. I hope I can enter through the back door, just nice, small manageable character parts. Nothing is worth the loss of personal anonymity. I'm fascinated by film but there are many brilliant women honing their craft in movies. They don't need me." --Jones to LOS ANGELES TIMES, September 8, 1996

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Mary O'Connor. Architect. Designed Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor, Long Island, New York.

Family close complete family listing

grandmother:
Thelma Cherry. Maternal grandmother; encouraged her to pursue an acting career with local drama teacher Ruby Crider who saw to it that Jones got into Carnegie-Mellon.

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