Tom Jones (writer)

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Tom Jones
Tom Jones photo 10.jpg
Jones in 2008
Born(1928-02-17)February 17, 1928
DiedAugust 11, 2023(2023-08-11) (aged 95)
Education University of Texas at Austin
Occupation(s)Lyricist and librettist

Thomas Collins Jones (February 17, 1928 – August 11, 2023) was an American lyricist and librettist, best known for The Fantasticks , 110 in the Shade , and I Do! I Do! .


Early life

Jones was born in Littlefield, Texas, on February 17, 1928. He was raised in Coleman, Texas, the son of a turkey farmer (his father William) and a homemaker (his mother Jessie). [1] During his adolescence, he worked as an usher in a movie theater and attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he was involved in its theatre department. He attained a master's degree from the university in 1951. [1] All of Jones's major musicals were written with Harvey Schmidt, whom he met at the university. [1]


His best-known work is The Fantasticks , which ran off-Broadway from 1960 until 2002, and the hit song from the same, "Try to Remember". Other songs from The Fantasticks include "Soon It's Gonna Rain", "Much More", and "I Can See It". He also wrote the screenplay for the 1995 feature-film adaptation. [2]

Jones acted in a New York City revival of The Fantasticks, which he also directed. [3] He played the part of the Old Actor, from when the musical opened in 1960, and from April 26, 2010, to June 6, 2010. He was credited as an actor in the show as Thomas Bruce. [4]

Jones was also the author of Making Musicals: An Informal Introduction to the World of Musical Theater, [5] about which Elyse Sommer wrote on January 15, 1998 in CurtainUp:

Extremely well organized and packed with interesting information, the first half of the book deals in broad and general terms with the growth and development of the American musical. The second half focuses on the practical "how-to" of putting together a musical, using Jones's own career and shows he's worked on as a springboard ... Since only half the book falls within the category of how-to I'm glad to report that this advice is stick-to-the-ribs solid. No hyperbole. No gratuitous name dropping. [6]

Personal life and death

Jones was first married to Eleanor Wright; the two later divorced. [1] Jones went on to marry choreographer Janet Watson. The couple had two children, Michael and Sam Jones. Watson died in 2016. [7]

Jones died from cancer on August 11, 2023, at the age of 95. [8]

Theater credits

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Genzlinger, Neil (August 12, 2023). "Tom Jones, Half of Record-Setting 'Fantasticks' Team, Dies at 95". The New York Times. Retrieved August 14, 2023.
  2. Willman, Chris (August 13, 2023). "'Fantasticks' Lyricist Tom Jones Was Sanguine About the Show's Tangled History With Hollywood, Including a Barbra Streisand Near-Miss". Variety. Retrieved August 14, 2023.
  3. Hetrick, Adam. June 4, 2010. Tom Jones to Depart the Fantasticks Off Broadway. Archived August 8, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  4. Brantley, Ben. August 24, 2006. A Return to Off Broadway, With Performance No. 17,163. The New York Times.
  5. Making Musicals: An Informal Introduction to the World of Musical Theater, (Paperback) 1998, Limelight Editions.
  6. "Making Musicals", review by Elyse Sommer, January 15, 1998, CurtainUp
  7. Zee, Michaela (August 12, 2023). "Tom Jones, Lyricist and Librettist of Long-Running 'The Fantasticks,' Dies at 95". Variety. Retrieved August 14, 2023.
  8. 1 2 Ingenthron, Blair (August 12, 2023). "Broadway Lyricist and Librettist Tom Jones Has Passed Away". Broadway World. Retrieved August 12, 2023.
  9. 1 2 Lang, Joe (October 2021). "Jones & Schmidt Reviews". Jersey Jazz. The Musical Theater Project. Retrieved August 14, 2023.
  10. Franklin, Marc J. (October 24, 2019). "Revisit the Original Broadway Production of 110 in the Shade". Playbill. Retrieved August 14, 2023.
  11. Gold, Sylviane (August 22, 2010). "50 Years of Wedded Life in Two Acts". The New York Times. Retrieved August 14, 2023.
  12. Gans, Andrew (January 9, 2020). "York Theatre Company Will Present Concert Version of Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt's Celebration". Playbill. Retrieved August 14, 2023.
  13. Beaufort, John (April 12, 1983). "Colette's life as a musical - sketchy, but the songs are fetching; Colette Collage Musical Comedy with books and lyrics by Tom Jones, music by Harvey Schmidt. Directed by Fran Soeder". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved August 14, 2023.
  14. Lefkowitz, Andy (March 1, 2018). "Harvey Schmidt, Composer of The Fantasticks & 110 in the Shade, Dies at 88". Retrieved August 14, 2023.
  15. Richards, David (July 31, 1987). "Artful 'Corners'". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 14, 2023.
  16. "Jones & Schmidt's New Mirette Opens at Goodspeed". Playbill. July 30, 1998. Retrieved August 14, 2023.
  17. "Playbill Vault's Today in Theatre History: November 13". Playbill. November 13, 2021. Retrieved August 14, 2023.
  18. Rooney, David (January 10, 2005). "Harold and Maude: The Musical". Variety. Retrieved August 14, 2023.
  19. Gans, Andrew (February 13, 2012). "York Theatre Company Will Present Musicals in Mufti: The Tom Jones Festival". Playbill. Retrieved August 14, 2023.