shirleyjonesbookcover-1Orgasms have always come easily for Shirley Jones, and if that’s too much information for you, you might not enjoy Shirley Jones, her new memoir, in which the actress writes frankly about both her successful acting career and her sizzling sex life. 

But for the reader eager to learn what happens during a celebrity threesome, what the parties were like chez Sammy Davis, Jr. (porn on every screen and lines of coke on every coffeetable), the size of David Cassidy’s schlong (hint: his brothers nicknamed him Donk, for donkey), and just what Shirley does at age 79 to keep the orgasms coming, this is the ideal beach read.   

Jones describes her career trajectory, from a small-town girl with a voice she calls a “gift from God” to the star of iconic films like Oklahoma! and The Music Man, after which she became America’s favorite wholesome working mom on the hit TV series The Partridge Family. (Portraying a working mom was important to Jones. She turned down the “mom” role in The Brady Bunch because “I didn’t want to be the mother taking the roast out of the oven and not doing much else.”)

We learn, too, about her personal life, including her marriages to two very challenging (and both, as it turned out, bipolar) husbands: Jack Cassidy, a seductive, bisexual, and ridiculously self-absorbed philanderer, and Marty Ingels, a frenetic, attention-grabbing comic (famous, among other things, for suffering an on-air nervous breakdown on the Tonight show). After standing by Cassidy for decades, despite his immaturity, abysmal parenting skills, and countless infidelities, Jones finally cut him loose. She claims to have found “true love” with the exuberant Ingels—a puzzling choice, in that nobody else in her life, including her sons, appears to like him.  (Check out her appearance with Ingels on The View, which is available on You Tube. You probably won’t like him either.)  

While still a teen in Smithton, Pennsylvania, Jones did fall for a wonderful guy. He was stable, smart, loving, and loyal. They were engaged to be married. But small-town life wasn’t enough for Jones, so she broke it off. She wanted fun and adventure, and she found it. But the heavenly voice that was her ticket out of town was, perhaps, a mixed blessing. Jones muses that she might have been happier had she married her first love, stayed in Smithton, and become a veterinarian instead of a movie star.   

Jones is unusually frank about her sex life. 

Describing losing her virginity to the man she still describes as “sex God Jack Cassidy,” she explains, “he was inventive and extremely well endowed . . . . He had no inhibitions about sex, no barriers, and he taught me to . . .  be free about sex and to openly want it and love it.”  

Jones is refreshingly straightforward and explicit, telling the reader which stars made a pass at her, who she jumped into bed with and who she turned down, and who she most enjoyed kissing on-screen. There’s also a fairly graphic description of the three-way her “Sex God” hubby manipulated her into taking part in. 

She clearly had plenty of opportunity to partake in sexual adventure. A typical Hollywood evening out? She and Cassidy are relaxing after dinner with Anthony Newley and Joan Collins in their Hollywood home, when “(a)ll of a sudden, Tony Newley got up and announced, ‘Right, we’ve got some porno movies. Why don’t we all get naked and watch together?’” 

Jones also shares a story Cassidy told her about seducing composer Cole Porter, a story so lewd and off-putting that I’m not going to repeat it here.

Jones comes across as a good-hearted person who has made some terrific career choices and some abysmal romantic ones—an upbeat woman who takes her own path, stands by her man, and makes the best of whatever situation she finds herself in. Looking back, she sees herself, with some satisfaction, as “a headstrong girl who flew in the face of advice and went against convention, with her eyes fixed firmly on the next adventure.”

Jones closes out the book with some thoughts about masturbation, which, she asserts, is  “. . . great for relaxation, great for the skin and a wonderful way of feeling and remaining young.“ 

So exactly what does Shirley Jones do to keep the orgasms coming?  

“I just use Vaseline and a finger,” she writes.  “And my fantasies. I get aroused by imagining a faceless, macho guy. And while I’m masturbating, I say his dialogue, and mine, out loud.”

TMI? Maybe so. 

But the vision of Marian the Librarian happily making whoopee with Macho Faceless Man certainly made my day. 


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  • Roz Warren August 31, 2013 at 9:44 pm

    THANKS CARYL!! Your comment made my day.

  • caryl avery August 30, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    As a long-time lover of musicals, I’ve always adored Shirley Jones. But I won’t be buying her book because deep down I know the book couldn’t possibly be as amusing as Roz Warren’s review. Is there any subject Roz can’t handle with tact and grace and humor? I doubt it. She always nails it. This review is just another example.

  • Richard Bready August 21, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    When it comes to celebrities and porn movies, I prefer the story about Princess Margaret:
    Fun review; all one wants to know, featly narrated.

  • Roz Warren August 21, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    I respect your opinion, and appreciate both the eloquence with which you state it and the time you’ve taken to express it here. But in reviewing the book I had to be true to my own experience — and I enjoyed the read. I like it when women, particularly older women, write openly and frankly about enjoying sex. I haven’t a clue why she chose to share this information with us, but I think it was brave of her to do it. (Which isn’t to say that I don’t agree with your “diagnosis.”)

  • barbara holmes August 21, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    Quite the opposite of the reviewer, “… the vision of Marian the Librarian happily making whoopee with Macho Faceless Man certainly made my day.”–I found this book to be a total waste of time. Fortunately, I am a fast reader.

    I can’t imagine any reason why Ms. Jones would think that her tawdry retelling of so many sexual escapades in such detail would be somehow uplifting or validating. Was she trying to show that she was a really hip, sexy lady behind her Mrs. Partridge facade? She could have done so with such elegance and class–yet she throws this sordid yuck at us?!

    If the message was that all of us baby boomers have permission to pleasure ourselves, firstly, we were the generation that taught that mantra; secondly, we are still here and we can still remember what we learned. The sexual fascination was prurient to say the least and as offensive as if one of my best friends had decided to tell me this…and I have some crackerjack smart, hip, sensitive friends who shy away from nothing…but they do it with a certain je ne se qua that was sorely lacking from this book.If one strips away the sexual narratives from the book, one is left with a petulant childlike woman who seemed to take pleasure in her defiant attitude towards many things in her life.

    Who cares about the sexual equipment of her children, family, friends and husbands?? I felt like I was reading a patient’s profile–diagnosis: no social filter! What I resent most is that Ms. Jones still holds influence over other younger women, and instead of teaching them to delight in their sexuality, she has reduced this human experience to a new level–one that may be acceptable at a ladies luncheon.

    Ms. Warren, I’m surprised that you enjoyed this book despite statements such as “Jones also shares a story Cassidy told her about seducing composer Cole Porter, a story so lewd and off-putting that I’m not going to repeat it here.” In fact, given her current marriage to Marty Ingels, whom you state is not liked by many, it stands to reason that Shirley Jones is just not as likeable as everyone thought she was.

    I thought you just blew it off like a good laugh and a slap on the back to good old Shirley!

  • Mark Lowe August 20, 2013 at 8:49 pm


  • Joan Price August 20, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    I love your review — more than the book, in fact, which I found to be too fluffy and superficial for my taste. I got tired of the wide-eyed “ooh, they liked me — they really liked me!” emphasis in the way she told her story.

    I agree that it’s a fun beach-read for a couple of hours, and you’ve revealed the best parts here!

    Why did she know so much of the size of her adult son’s penis? (Did that bother anyone else?) Did he or others brag about it? Was it so legendary that she couldn’t help knowing? Or could she not resist sneaking some peeks?