"It's almost like starting over," says Dean Jones, back before the cameras at age 60 after a 12-year absence, in Warner Bros.' "Other People's Money."
Norman Jewison directs the comedy about Wall Street and corporate takeovers, in which Danny DeVito--as "Larry the Liquidator"--sets his sights on a venerable company run by Gregory Peck and Jones.
Jones says he's become so accustomed to not getting film jobs that after reading for Jewison, "I wished him luck with his movie."
Once on the picture, Jones says he found himself "gratified by every aspect of the process. . . . It's an experience I don't want to ever again take for granted."
A busy actor in the '60s, Jones--who did 10 family pictures for Disney--was known for his clean-cut, good-guy image. He didn't want to elaborate about his latest role, but said that the more mature themes in "Other People's Money" were not a problem: "It's not adult in a skin-flick way--I see nothing that's offensive to me."
Originally a singer, Jones was brought to MGM's attention by songwriter Frank Loesser ("Guys and Dolls"). Instead of warbling for the cameras, Jones co-starred in a spate of dramatic titles, then found fame on Broadway in 1960 in "Under the Yum Yum Tree." From 1962 to 1964 he starred in TV's "Ensign O'Toole," followed by his tenure as one of the Disney Studio's favorite leading men in such titles as "That Darn Cat" (1965), "The Ugly Dachshund" (1966) and "The Love Bug" (1969).
In recent years he's kept busy doing plays, and acts as a spokesman for Compassion International, a Christian organization that cares for underprivileged children here and around the world. Jones and his writer wife, Lori Basham Jones, have seven foster kids themselves, along with their own three children.
Before his slide, one of Jones' last prominent film roles was as Watergate figure Chuck Colson in "Born Again" (1978). At the time, much was made of the fact that the actor, like the Nixon aide he played, had undergone a religious rebirth.
A factor in Hollywood's subsequent cold shoulder?
"I've wondered about that," he says. "That's a whole book I may write one day."