Henry Burk Jones was born in New Jersey and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Helen (Burk) and John Francis Xavier Jones, and the grandson of Pennsylvania Representative Henry Burk, a Prussian immigrant. He graduated from St. Joseph’s College. His Broadway debut was in 1938 in Maurice Evans’ “Hamlet” (Reynaldo and the second gravedigger). He served in the army in World War II. His highly-reviewed stage appearances included the murdered handyman in “The Bad Seed,” which he reprised in the film version (The Bad Seed (1956)), and the part of Louis Howe, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s confidant in Sunrise at Campobello (1960). Though very ordinary in appearance (“The casting directors didn’t know what to do with me. I was never tall enough or good looking enough to play juvenile leads”), he had a long and varied career on Broadway, in movies and television. His parts included a wide range of second-string roles (ministers, judges, janitors), often with a dark and even frightening underside. His television career, which included over 150 appearances, began early, in 1950. Though his movies included such well-known titles as Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957), 3:10 to Yuma (1957), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), The Grifters (1990), and Dick Tracy (1990) no doubt his most recognizable screen performance was in the brief role of the methodical, nearly cruel coroner in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958). He lived in Santa Monica, CA, and died 17 May 1999, aged 86, at the UCLA Medical Center.
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