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O-Lan Jones

O-Lan Jones

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Also Known As: O-Lan Barna, O-Lan Johnson Dark, O-Lan Shepard Died:
Born: May 23, 1950 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Los Angeles, California, USA Profession: actor, playwright, artistic director, composer, waitress

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

This dark-haired, sweet-faced but sometimes tough-acting character actress first gained notice in the plays of Sam Shepard to whom she married from 1969 until 1984.Named for the character in Pearl Buck's "The Good Earth", O-Lan Jones and her mother and younger sister left her native Los Angeles for New York when her father abandoned them. After dropping out of school, the teenager began acting in Off-Off-Broadway productions, scoring her first success as a Rice Krispies-eating girl in Shepard's "Forensic and the Navigators" (1968). Though her 15-year marriage to Shepard might be politely termed "open," she continued to work in his plays. Jones was a rock star in "Mad Dog Blues" (1971), a voodoo woman in "Back Bog Beast Bait", starred in the all-female "Little Ocean" (1974), "Angel City", "Suicide in B-Flat" and others. She also appeared in non-Shepard plays like Len Jenkin's "The Death and Life of Jesse James" and Harold Pinter's "The Birthday Party".In 1979, Jones co-founded Overtone Industries, a San Francisco-based theater company, using a settlement she received after being fired from the film "Private Benjamin". She has written a number of plays and composed musicals, including 1980's "After...

This dark-haired, sweet-faced but sometimes tough-acting character actress first gained notice in the plays of Sam Shepard to whom she married from 1969 until 1984.

Named for the character in Pearl Buck's "The Good Earth", O-Lan Jones and her mother and younger sister left her native Los Angeles for New York when her father abandoned them. After dropping out of school, the teenager began acting in Off-Off-Broadway productions, scoring her first success as a Rice Krispies-eating girl in Shepard's "Forensic and the Navigators" (1968). Though her 15-year marriage to Shepard might be politely termed "open," she continued to work in his plays. Jones was a rock star in "Mad Dog Blues" (1971), a voodoo woman in "Back Bog Beast Bait", starred in the all-female "Little Ocean" (1974), "Angel City", "Suicide in B-Flat" and others. She also appeared in non-Shepard plays like Len Jenkin's "The Death and Life of Jesse James" and Harold Pinter's "The Birthday Party".

In 1979, Jones co-founded Overtone Industries, a San Francisco-based theater company, using a settlement she received after being fired from the film "Private Benjamin". She has written a number of plays and composed musicals, including 1980's "After Stardive" (co-written with Kathleen Cramer). Among the other works, Jones has authored or co-authored are "Katy Cruel", "The Man Whose Brother was Eaten by Wolves" and "Heracles and the Hydra".

Billed as O-Lan Shepard, she broke into TV and films in the late 1970s and early 80s. Her big screen appearance was a bit part in Alan Parker's "Shoot the Moon" (1981). She was briefly alongside Shepard in Philip Kaufman's acclaimed "The Right Stuff" (1983). After her 1984 divorce, she reverted her billing to O-Lan Jones and appeared in "Wildfire" (1987) and has played small but strong character roles in numerous films, including a Mafia wife in Jonathan Demme's comedy "Married to the Mob" (1988), one of the neighborhood women entranced by the title character in Tim Burton's "Edward Scissorhands" (1990), a biker chick in the dog comedy "Beethoven" (1992), and Lukas Haas' mother in Burton's "Mars Attacks!" (1996). With co-writers and co-stars Andrea Stein and Jim Turner, Jones adapted and appeared in Paul Bartel's film version of their dark comedy "Still Life" (1993), about three siblings who have lived in a bomb shelter since 1963.

On the small screen, Jones has generally appeared in small roles in TV-movies like the acclaimed "A Death in Canaan" (CBS, 1978), "Convicted: A Mother's Story" (NBC, 1987) and "Danielle Steel's 'Secrets'" (NBC, 1992). She was a series regular as the town waitress in "Harts of the West" (CBS, 1993-94), alongside Beau Bridges and Harley Jane Kozak and has guested on such series as "Seinfeld" and "Chicago Hope".

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Live Virgin (2000)
2.
 Spa-Tel (2000) Bea
3.
 Truman Show, The (1998) Bar Waitress (The Viewers)
4.
 Animals (1998) Essie
5.
 Clockwatchers (1997) Madame Debbie
6.
 Touch (1997) Bib Overalls
7.
 Mars Attacks! (1996) Sue Ann Norris
8.
 Natural Born Killers (1994) Mabel
9.
 Favor, The (1994) Mrs Moyer--Lamaze Class
10.
 Shelf Life (1993) Tina
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Raised in California
:
Moved with mother and sister to NYC
:
Left school at 14 and began acting in off-off-Broadway productions
:
At age 15, moved with mother to the jungles of the Yucatan
1968:
First gained notice in Sam Shepard's play "Forensic and the Navigators"
1969:
Married Shepard
1971:
Lived in England with Shepard (dates approximate)
1978:
TV-movie debut, "A Death in Canaan", billed as O-lan Shepard
1979:
Founded Overtone Industries, a theater company
1979:
Co-wrote musical "After Stardive" with Kathleen Cramer
1981:
Feature film debut in Alan Parker's "Shoot the Moon", billed as O-lan Shepard
1983:
Made brief appearance in Phil Kaufman's "The Right Stuff", co-starring Sam Shepard
1984:
Divorced Shepard
:
Resumed using her former stage name, O-Lan Jones
1990:
First collaboration with Tim Burton, "Edward Scissorhands"
1993:
Screenwriting debut, "Shelf Life"; adapted stage play with co-authors and co-stars Andrea Stein and Jim Turner; also co-starred
:
Was series regular on the CBS drama "Harts of the West"
1994:
Made cameo appearance in "Natural Born Killers"
1996:
Had small role in Tim Burton's "Mars Attacks!"
1998:
Was briefly seen in "The Truman Show" as a waitress
2000:
Acted in the film "Live Virgin"
2001:
Composed the chamber opera "The Woman Who Forgot Her Sweater"
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Notes

Her mother named her after the heroine of Pearl S Buck's novel "The Good Earth".

"I'm probably the only actress in Hollywood who's waited more tables on-screen than off." --O-Lan Jones, quoted in the press kit for "Shelf Life" (1993).

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Sam Shepard. Playwright, actor. Born on November 5, 1943 in Fort Sheridan, Illinois; married on November 9, 1969; divorced in 1984.
husband:
Sam Shepard. Survived him.
companion:
Halldor Enard. Photographer, handyman. Holds dual French and Icelandic citizenship.
companion:
Halldor Enard. Had threee.
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Family close complete family listing

mother:
Scarlett Johnson. Actor. Divorced Johnson's father; married to second husband Johnny Dark in the late 1960s.
mother:
Scarlett Johnson. Survived him.
step-father:
Johnny Dark. Married Jones' mother in the late 1960s.
step-father:
Johnny Dark. Had four; Rivera was the third of five children.
sister:
Kristy Johnson. Younger.
sister:
Kristy Johnson. Younger.
son:
Jesse Mojo Shepard. Writer, carpenter, sculptor. Born in May 1970.
son:
Jesse Mojo Shepard. Survived him.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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