MADAM, – Considering the recent interest in Freddie Jones, I thought you might like to see this article taken from my book, Neckend: Old Town Tales, published last year and now sold out.
Our Famous Thespian:
Several famous people came from Longton and stories have been written about their achievements. One famous son has been overlooked for years, despite being internationally known.
Frederick Charles Jones was born on September 12, 1927 at Villiers Street, Dresden. The son of Charles Edward Jones, Electrical Porcelain Thrower, and Ida Elizabeth (formerly Goodwin). The family moved to Churchfield Avenue.
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He confided to Ellis Bevan that he had worked at Creda Works, Blythe Bridge, and one day he arrived at work wearing two odd socks. His workmates pointed out his mistake and he replied that he had another pair exactly the same at home.
Freddie went to work in a laboratory at a chemical factory in Tamworth, and, during his ten years there, he took up acting on the side in amateur theatre. To kick off his mid -life acting career, he attended the Rose Burford College of Speech and Drama in Kent on scholarship in the mid 1950s. He took up acting professionally, working in the Rep Theatre before joining The Royal Shakespeare Company and gaining recognition as an actor of exceptional cleverness, intelligence and perception.
His theatrical film debut came in 1967 when he played Cucurucu in the critically acclaimed Marat – Sade film by Peter Brooks, filmed at Pinewood Studios. Two years later, he made his mark on the acting world, playing Claudius in the six-part television mini series, The Caesers.
At this time, his mother regularly called into Ellis Bevan's music shop to keep him informed of her son's progress. She did not possess a television and Ellis took her to his home to view her son's performance.
She complained that he got no publicity in his own hometown, and Ellis said he would ensure the publicity would be forthcoming.
Based on his performance in The Caesers, he was named the world's best television actor of the year at the Monte Carlo television festival in 1969. Ellis phoned The Sentinel and asked them if they were aware that a Longton man had achieved this, they were completely unaware and publicity swiftly followed.
At a height of 6'1", his eccentric, twitchy portrayals, often bordering on caricature, although sometimes criticised, have nevertheless ensured an international recognition and popularity as a character actor.
The next chance you get to see the film Treasure Island, starring Robert Newton as Long John Silver, made in 1950, study Newton's acting and ask yourself if they are strikingly similar to Freddy Jones.
Freddie Jones used to visit Longton in his huge black trilby hat and long actor's cape, but Longton people are down to earth and were completely unimpressed by his attire. These days he arrives in a baseball cap and gets recognised.
Freddie is married to the actress, Jennie Heslewood, who is famous in her own right. He lived in a little cottage in Surrey before moving to Crinan House, Charlbury, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, in 1977.
It was a stone-built town house bought for £28,000 and has had lavish refurbishing. At present, it is on the market for £1.25 million, after Freddie and his wife decided to move to a more manageable house in Bicester. Not bad for a Longton lad, who started out in a rented house and went to work wearing odd socks.
Freddie opened the New Victoria Theatre in Newcastle when it moved from Hartshill, and has at last had a plaque erected with his name on in Longton Town Hall.
Freddie's children are: Toby Jones (actor), Rupert Jones (director), Casper Jones (actor). They are all following in their father's footsteps.