Actor Christopher Jones, who abruptly quit working Hollywood in the 1960s after starring in Ryan's Daughter and ABC's The Legend of Jesse James, died Friday in California of complications from cancer, his partner Paule McKenna told The Hollywood Reporter. He was 72.
Born William Frank Jones in Jackson, Tenn., Jones grew up an orphan after his mother was committed to a mental hospital. He later changed his name to Christopher and moved to New York to pursue acting, starring in The Night of the Iguana on Broadway in the early 1960s. After relocating to Hollywood, Jones was cast in the title role on ABC's The Legend of Jesse James, which aired for one season from 1965 to 1966.
Jones married Susan Strasberg, the daughter of Actors Studio founder Lee Strasberg, in 1965 and the two co-starred in 1967's Chubasco. They divorced in 1968.
In a 2007 interview, Jones said he gave up acting in 1969 because he was having an affair with actress Sharon Tate, the wife of Roman Polanski, and was devastated when she was murdered by followers of Charles Manson, THRreports. His only film credit after that is in 1996's Mad Dog Time, though he was approached by Quentin Tarantino to star in 1994's Pulp Fiction and declined. In more recent years he focused on art and sculpting.
Jones is survived by McKenna and seven children.