Shirley Jones, the Academy Award-winning stage and screen star, will appear with two of her most highly regarded movies — “Oklahoma!” and “Elmer Gantry” — at the seventh annual Plaza Classic Film Festival.
The El Paso Community Foundation presents the seventh annual edition of the world’s largest classic film festival Aug. 7-17 in downtown El Paso. More than 80 movies, concerts and other events will take place during the 11-day festival.
Shirley Jones will discuss the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical “Oklahoma!” at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8, with a screening of the movie to follow. She will talk about the riveting drama “Elmer Gantry” at 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9, with the movie to follow. Both will be in the historic Plaza Theatre.
She also will sign autographs from 1-2:30 p.m. Aug. 9 at the Camino Real Hotel.
“El Paso is such a great American city, about to pay tribute to two great American motion pictures, ‘Oklahoma!’ and ‘Elmer Gantry,’” she said. “I am very proud of these films and honored that I was invited to be there for their screenings.”
Eric Pearson, president and CEO of the El Paso Community Foundation, added: “Since her debut in the 1950s, Shirley Jones has had a stellar career as a multi-award-winning actor and performer on the stage, the screen and TV. We are proud to have her here.”
The Pennsylvania native, who turned 80 this year, has enjoyed an illustrious — and still active — career spanning seven decades. She made her Broadway debut in “South Pacific” at age 19 in 1953 after composers Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II discovered her.
They cast her, over several bigger names, to play wholesome farm girl Laurey in the 1955 movie version of “Oklahoma!,” her film debut, which includes beloved standards such as “Oh What a Beautiful Mornin’” and “People Will Say We’re in Love.” In 2007, it was selected for preservation in the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry.
Shirley Jones went on to star in other hit movies, including “Carousel” and “The Music Man,” but it was her first dramatic role — as a vengeful prostitute — in the 1960 drama “Elmer Gantry” that earned her an Academy Award for best supporting actress.
Shirley Jones the movie star became Shirley Jones the TV star after she was cast as the piano- playing matriarch of “The Partridge Family” from 1970-74 on ABC. The show co-starred her stepson, David Cassidy, and yielded a No. 1 hit song, “I Think I Love You.”
She has continued to work on stage and screen. Last year, Shirley became an author with the release of her best-selling autobiography, “Shirley Jones: A Memoir.”
Tickets for her appearance with“Oklahoma!” are $10, $6 for “Elmer Gantry.”
Tickets for the Plaza Classic Film Festival are on sale at the Plaza Theatre box office, Ticketmaster outlets, Ticketmaster.com and 800-745-3000. Movies scheduled this year include “The Wizard of Oz,” “Rear Window,” “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.”
Festival passes are $200 and include admission to all PCFF movies, discounts, special events and a jump-the-line option. Plaza Classic Film Club passes — for teens 14 to 18 — are $100 and include admission to all festival movies, a jump-the-line option and other perks.
They are available at plazaclassic.com or by calling 915-533-4020.