Sam J. Jones
For a generation of moviegoers, Sam J. Jones is better known as Flash Gordon. Sam’s engaging portrayal of the quintessential comic strip space adventurer won over the hearts of millions around the world. In an acting career that now spans over forty years, Jones has endured in Hollywood – with 62 films and hundreds of television appearances – due to the versatility and enthusiasm that he brings to each and every role.
Born in Chicago, Jones grew up in Florida, Tennessee and attended High School in Sacramento. After serving his country in the United States Marine Corps as a mere teenager, Sam found himself without any long-term plans and working all sorts of odd jobs to playing semi-pro football. Having had some success as a model, he decided that the time was right to give acting a try and relocated to Los Angeles on the condition that if he did not progress every six months, he would stop and pursue something else. Soon his all-American good looks and ambition would earn him auditions and minor roles on television and local theatre before eventually landing a solid movie part in Blake Edwards’ classic 10 as the beau of Bo Derek.
Since the Sunday newspaper strip debut in 1934 courtesy of the vision and artistry from creator Alex Raymond, the characters from Flash Gordon and their exploits on Mongo quickly ingrained themselves into the heights of popular culture in everything from radio dramas, pulp novels, comic books, cartoons, television and the ultimate celluloid serial series featuring the legendary Buster Crabbe. So finding an actor to play the larger than life qualities of Flash Gordon for a major motion picture was a quite troublesome ordeal for mega producer Dino De Laurentiis.
Upon earning the role and a multi-picture deal for potential Gordon sequels, Sam always understood that it wasn’t enough that he was the living embodiment of the classic character but that he had to portray Flash as an earnest man that rises to the occasion as a natural born hero and friend to all, selfless in the face of any evil. Amongst an all-star international cast, Sam’s hard work would help him stand out and succeed in making him the definitive Flash Gordon in the eyes of many.
“Well, I always feel that it’s very hard to cast Flash Gordon,” said Brian Blessed, the highly regarded British actor and Sam’s Flash Gordon co-star. “You can find Vultans, you can find Prince Barins, you can find Ming the Merciless. Seven or eight people can play it in their own way. But it’s very hard to find a Flash Gordon and Dale. And, I mean, for instance, you could take Tom Cruise, who’s got a wonderful face and a lovely smile, it’s the perfect smile Tom Cruise has. But you can put a camera on him in certain angles and he will look sinister. But you could put a camera on Sam Jones from any angle and he looked pure, so that when he walked into a room, he was pure. When he suddenly said to Ming, “My name’s Flash Gordon, quarterback, New York Jets.’ I think Sam is the Flash Gordon because he is so pure.”
The 1980 film remains a charming picture that is full of adventure, humor, sexual innuendo and good old fashion fun. Never was there a cast that so closely resembled their comic strip personas in a picture like this one. The enduring popularity of the film was the start of an extremely successful career for Sam that led to starring roles in many action features, leads in numerous television projects and his unforgettable surprise appearances in Seth Mac Farlane’s Ted and Ted 2, where Sam proved he was just as comfortable with comedy as he is with action.
Sam’s 2018 film projects (for release) include The Silent Natural, Axcellerator, One of the Good Ones, Fury of The Fist and the Golden Fleece, Head Games and Life After Flash, The Documentary.
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