Shirley Jones wants a high-flying 80th birthday
LOS ANGELES – Inspired by a former president, Shirley Jones can’t wait to jump into her birthday plans.
The Oscar-winning actress and singer says she’ll take her very first skydive on Monday – her 80th birthday.
“That’s something I wanted to do all my life,” Jones said Friday. The inspiration to try comes from former President George H.W. Bush’s jumps on several birthdays, including when he turned 85 in 2009.
“When I saw him do it I thought, ‘Wow, if he can do this, I can,'” Jones said.
Jones, who starred in TV’s “The Partridge Family” in the 1970s, gained fame with the 1950s film versions of the Broadway musicals “Oklahoma!” and “Carousel.” She won an Oscar for the 1960 drama “Elmer Gantry.”
She will be jumping in tandem with an instructor in Perris, a popular Southern California skydiving spot, according to her husband, comedian Marty Ingels.
Ingels was taken aback when she suggested it but has since come around, Jones said. Her children, not so much.
She quoted her oldest son, Shaun Cassidy, as saying, “Mom, what’s the matter with you? Why would you want to do this at your age?”
Jones said she understands her sons’ concerns, especially since she has arthritis, and she realizes that “anything like this can be dangerous.”
But she’s not deterred. It was either skydiving or the other top item on her to-do list, an African safari to satisfy the animal lover in her, Jones said.
Family members, including 12 grandchildren, are planning a big party Sunday, Jones said. She’s also welcoming a friend she’s known since they were in third grade back in a small town in Pennsylvania.
She’s looking forward to the party but not what’s being celebrated.
“I’m not very happy about” turning 80, she said. “The number scares me to death. I don’t even like to say it. Eighty years old, it can’t be.”
Is skydiving a way to prove there’s still more living to do?
“Yes, maybe,” Jones said.
And for this actress, at least, it’s apparently less worrisome than turning 80.