Cherry Jones
Birth Date:
November 21, 1956
Birth Place:
Paris, Tennessee, USA
Famous for:
Her Tony Award-winning performance in Lincoln Center's 1995 production of The Heiress
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The Heiress


American actress Cherry Jones is best known for his stage work. She picked up her first Tony Award in 1995 and became famous after giving an excellent portrayal of Catherine Sloper in the hit Broadway revival of “The Heiress” (1995), where she also nabbed a Drama Desk Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Drama League Award. She further established her status as an accomplished player by taking home her next Tony Award in the John Patrick Shanley popular play “Doubt” (2005), starring as Sister Aloysius. Other notable performances include roles in “Our Country’s Good” (1991, earned a Tony nod), “The Baltimore Waltz” (1992, won an Obie Award), “A Moon for the Misbegotten” (2000, received a Tony nomination) and “Major Barbara” (2001).

Although Jones considers herself a stage actress whose occasional work in film and TV has simply been a way to subsidize her theatrical earnings, she sparked some notice for her performances in Alan Wade’s interesting Julian Po (1997), playing the deaf maid Lucy, and in Robert Redford’s The Horse Whisperer (1998), as a veterinarian. She also had a small, but notable part as the mother of Matt Damon in Ocean’s 12 (2004). Jones’ other film credits include Tim Robbins’ Cradle Will Rock (1999), Erin Brockovich (2000), What Makes a Family (2001, TV), the M. Night Shyamalan thrillers Signs (2002) and The Village (2004), and Swimmers (2005).

Out of the closet since the beginning of her professional career in 1980, Jones has been a frank supporter for gay rights ever since. In 1995, the lesbian actress thanked her then-partner, architect Mary O’Connor, when she accepted her first Tony Award. Ten years later, when she accepted her second Tony Award, Jones thanked “Laura Wingfield,” a character in the revival of “The Glass Menagerie” that was played by actress Sarah Paulson. Paulson is her present romantic partner.


Childhood and Family:

Cherry Jones was born on November 21, 1956, in Paris, Tennessee. She obtained a BFA in Drama from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After graduating from college, she found herself working briefly as a waitress in New York City and spent one year with the BAM Theater Company at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. She is a founding member of the American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts.



Born and raised in Paris, Tennessee, 16-year-old Cherry Jones knew she wanted to become an actress after seeing Colleen Dewhurst in Chicago, portraying Josie Hogan in a production of “A Moon for the Misbegotten.” She later trained at Carnegie-Mellon University, from which she holds a degree in Theater, and after graduating, spent a year with the BAM Theater Company at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. In 1980, she found a berth with The American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts for its inaugural season. With the guiding of Anne Bogart and Andrei Serban, Jones acted in more than twenty plays in six seasons and created a name for herself as a risk-taker in main roles in plays by Chekhov, Shakespeare and Brecht, among others. Her first TV movie role arrived in 1986, playing Tina Crawford in the ABC drama “Alex: The Life of a Child.”

The next year, after teaming up with director Tommy Tune for Broadway play “Stepping Out,” Jones had her first taste in front of the film camera when she landed the role of Cindy Montgomery in the Paul Schrader-helmed Light of Day, starring Michael J. Fox and Joan Jet, which was followed by a small part as Ginger McDonald in the Matt Dillon and Diane Lane vehicle The Big Town (1987) and guest starring role in a 1087 episode of “Spenser: For Hire,” as Tracy Kincaid. She went on to play Lady Macduff in the Christopher Plummer-Glenda Jackson production of “Macbeth” (1988) in NYC, but it was not until three years later that Jones delivered her first breakthrough as the hard-boiled and much abused former crook Liz Morden on Broadway production of “Our Country’s Good.” For her fine performance, she was nominated a Tony Award. She again received good reviews for her work in Paula Vogel’s Off-Broadway play “The Baltimore Waltz” (1992), from which she was awarded a 1992 Obie. Also in 1992, she could be seen in the movie HouseSitter, as Patty, and in the TV series “Loving,” playing Frankie.

Jones’ stage career gained even more recognition in 1995 when she was cast in the starring role of the humble yet rebellious Catherine Sloper in the Lincoln Center revival of Ruth and Augustus Goetz’s 1947 drama “The Heiress.” The Broadway play was a hit and Jones was too. Offering a stupendous performance, she took home such awards as a Tony, a Drama Desk, an Outer Critics Circle and a Drama League for Best Actress.

After the much-talk about performance, Jones ignited some attention for her screen roles as the deaf maid Lucy in Alan Wade’s motivating comedy/drama Julian Po (1997), starring Christian Slater in the title character, and as a veterinarian named Liz Hammond in The Horse Whisperer (1998), a drama/romance directed by and starring Robert Redford. In 1999, she costarred with Hank Azaria, John and Joan Cusack, and Cary Elwes in Tim Robbins’ Cradle Will Rock, in addition to playing Mimi Barnes in television films Murder in a Small Town and The Lady in Question.

Jones had feature roles in the Julia Robert vehicle Erin Brockovich (2000) and The Perfect Storm (2000), and played Lizbeth Studevant in the made-for-TV film Cora Unashamed (2000). The same year, she resurfaced on the stage to star as Josie Hogan in O’Neill’s “A Moon for the Misbegotten,” a role that brought Jones a Tony nod for Actress in a Play, before assuming the title role in Broadway revival of Shaw’s “Major Barbara” (2001). Simultaneously, Jones worked with Brooke Shields in the Lifetime based-on-fact TV-movie What Makes a Family, about a lesbian pair.

Next up for Jones, she appeared as the matriarch Grandma Buggy in Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (2002) and as Officer Paski in the highly anticipated M. Night Shyamalan thriller Signs (2002), opposite Mel Gibson. After a guest spot in “The West Wing,” she reunited with Shyamalan for his next jaunt, the thriller The Village (2004). She was then cast as Sister Marie in the CBS coming-of-age series “Clubhouse” (2004), but the show was axed by the network after only a few episodes. In the star-studded Ocean’s 12 (2004), installment to the remake of the Rat Pack caper comedy, Jones had a small, but essential role as Matt Damon’s mom. In spite of a high-profile cast and prevalent anticipation, the gifted player could maintain her creative integrity and prized anonymity. She continued with a small role in writer/director Doug Sadler’s drama Swimmers, the next year.

Still in 2005, Jones returned to the stage to play Sister Aloysius in John Patrick Shanley’s play “Doubt.” Opened at the Walter Kerr Theatre in March of 2005, the Broadway became a hit and won a Pulitzer Prize for Drama. As for Jones, her impressive interpretation handed the actress a 2005 Tony for Leading Actress in a Play.


  • Tony: Leading Actress in a Play, “Doubt,” 2005
  • Tony: Best Actress, “The Heiress,” 1995
  • Drama Desk: Best Actress, “The Heiress,” 1995
  • Outer Critics Circle: Best Actress, “The Heiress,” 1995
  • Drama League: Best Actress, “The Heiress,” 1995
  • OBIE: “The Baltimore Waltz,” 1992
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