Familiar to audiences from films like Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma and Carousel and a four year stint on television's "The Partridge Family" - got her big break as a chorus member in the original Broadway cast of South Pacific. She was then cast in a minor role in the Broadway production of Me and Juliet (1953) and eventually signed to play the lead on tour.
The following year, with some valid stage experience under her belt, Jones was cast to star in Rodgers and Hammerstein's film version of Oklahoma! Released in 1955, the multimillion-dollar production met with acclaim from critics, who felt Jones was the perfect choice to play the movie's heroine Laurey. She followed the success of her film debut with a turn in the 1956 feature adaptation of Carousel. Opportunities continued to come her way, and she landed leading roles in April Love (1957) and Never Steal Anything Small (1959), which paired her with leading man James Cagney.
In 1960, Jones shed her girl-next-door image by taking a dramatic turn in the film Elmer Gantry. Her performance as a jilted girlfriend turned prostitute earned her admiration and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. For the remainder of the decade, Jones continued to work in films. She returned to her musical roots as Marian the Librarian in The Music Man (1962); she took on lighter roles in the comedies The Courtship of Eddie's Father (1963) and Bedtime Story (1964); and showed her flair for the dramatic in The Happy Ending (1969) and The Cheyenne Social Club (1970).
In 1970, Jones made a transition to the small screen in ABC's musical sitcom The Partridge Family. She was cast as the recently widowed mother of a singing family. The show was a hit, making household names of its actors and actresses - David Cassidy (Jones' real-life stepson with Jack Cassidy), Susan Dey, and Danny Bonaduce. The cast capitalized on the show's popularity by recording a few albums which included songs like I Think I Love You and Doesn't Somebody Want to Be Wanted.
For the duration of the In the early 1990s, Jones focused her efforts on a successful concert career, touring the U.S. as a singer. Most recently, she continued to work in television, where her credits included a recurring role on The Drew Carey Show, and guest appearances on Melrose Place and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.