Richard Percy Jones, who gave his voice to an iconic animated character and rode horses in Western movies, died on July 7th at his home in Northridge, California. He was 87.
Jones turned 10 in 1937, the year Disney’s first animated feature, Snow White, came to theaters. Until then, he was billed onscreen as “Dickie” Jones. Afterward, he shortened it to the more grown-up “Dick,” but he will forever be remembered for the boy he voiced in Disney’s second animated feature, in 1940, Pinocchio.
Walt Disney picked Jones for the role at age 11, he told The Telegraph in 2009. “It was like a radio show,” he said of the experience. “You could read what you had to say; you didn’t have to memorise anything.”
Outside of his Pinoccio role, Jones’ career in the entertainment industry mostly consisted of playing cowboys. He showed a talent for riding horses early in his life.
“I was appearing at the Dallas Centennial Rodeo in 1932, and the star attraction was a cowboy called Hoot Gibson,” he said. “Well, I did my act, popping up on top of a horse, and at the end of the run Hoot says, ‘That kid ought to be in the movies.’ My mother says, ‘Whoopee!’ And away we went to Hollywood.”