O-Lan Jones

Actor, Playwright, Composer
This dark-haired, sweet-faced but sometimes tough-acting character actress first gained notice in the plays of Sam Shepard to whom she married from 1969 until 1984.

Named for the character in Pearl Buck's "The Good ... Read more »

Born: 05/22/1950 in Los Angeles, California, USA


Actor (38)

Head Case 2009 (Tv Show)


Chicago Hope 1993 - 1996, 1998 - 2001 (Tv Show)


Diagnosis Murder 1993 - 1996, 1998 - 2001 (Tv Show)


Martial Law 1993 - 2001 (Tv Show)


The X-Files 1993 - 2001 (Tv Show)


Live Virgin 2000 (Movie)


JAG 1993 - 1996, 1998 - 1999 (Tv Show)


Spa-Tel 1999 (Movie)

Bea (Actor)

The Gold Cup 1999 (Movie)

Jill (Actor)

Clockwatchers 1998 (Movie)

Madame Debbie (Actor)

Michael Hayes 1997 - 1998 (TV Show)


The Truman Show 1998 (Movie)

Bar Waitress (Actor)

Animals 1997 (Movie)

Essie (Actor)

Touch 1997 (Movie)

Bib Overalls (Actor)

Mars Attacks! 1996 (Movie)

Sue Ann Norris (Actor)

Nash Bridges 1993 - 1996 (Tv Show)


Harts of the West 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)


Natural Born Killers 1994 (Movie)

Mabel (Actor)

The Favor 1994 (Movie)

Mrs Moyer--Lamaze Class (Actor)

The John Larroquette Show 1993 - 1994 (Tv Show)


Shelf Life 1993 (Movie)

Tina (Actor)

Beethoven 1992 (Movie)

Biker Woman (Actor)

Danielle Steel's "Secrets" 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)


Seinfeld 1992 (Tv Show)


Edward Scissorhands 1990 (Movie)

Esmeralda (Actor)

False Identity 1990 (Movie)

Irma (Actor)

Pacific Heights 1990 (Movie)

Hotel Maid (Actor)

How I Got Into College 1989 (Movie)

Sally (Actor)

Miracle Mile 1989 (Movie)

Waitress (Actor)

Married to the Mob 1988 (Movie)

Phyllis (Actor)

Wildfire 1988 (Movie)

Mrs Johnson (Actor)

The Right Stuff 1983 (Movie)

Pretty Girl (Actor)

Shoot the Moon 1982 (Movie)

Countergirl (Actor)

Out 1981 (Movie)

Nixie (Actor)

A Death in Canaan (TV Show)


Convicted: A Mother's Story (TV Show)


Lonesome Dove (TV Show)

Writer (1)

Shelf Life 1993 (Movie)



This dark-haired, sweet-faced but sometimes tough-acting character actress first gained notice in the plays of Sam Shepard to whom she married from 1969 until 1984.

Named for the character in Pearl Buck's "The Good Earth", O-Lan Jones and her mother and younger sister left her native Los Angeles for New York when her father abandoned them. After dropping out of school, the teenager began acting in Off-Off-Broadway productions, scoring her first success as a Rice Krispies-eating girl in Shepard's "Forensic and the Navigators" (1968). Though her 15-year marriage to Shepard might be politely termed "open," she continued to work in his plays. Jones was a rock star in "Mad Dog Blues" (1971), a voodoo woman in "Back Bog Beast Bait", starred in the all-female "Little Ocean" (1974), "Angel City", "Suicide in B-Flat" and others. She also appeared in non-Shepard plays like Len Jenkin's "The Death and Life of Jesse James" and Harold Pinter's "The Birthday Party".

In 1979, Jones co-founded Overtone Industries, a San Francisco-based theater company, using a settlement she received after being fired from the film "Private Benjamin". She has written a number of plays and composed musicals, including 1980's "After Stardive" (co-written with Kathleen Cramer). Among the other works, Jones has authored or co-authored are "Katy Cruel", "The Man Whose Brother was Eaten by Wolves" and "Heracles and the Hydra".

Billed as O-Lan Shepard, she broke into TV and films in the late 1970s and early 80s. Her big screen appearance was a bit part in Alan Parker's "Shoot the Moon" (1981). She was briefly alongside Shepard in Philip Kaufman's acclaimed "The Right Stuff" (1983). After her 1984 divorce, she reverted her billing to O-Lan Jones and appeared in "Wildfire" (1987) and has played small but strong character roles in numerous films, including a Mafia wife in Jonathan Demme's comedy "Married to the Mob" (1988), one of the neighborhood women entranced by the title character in Tim Burton's "Edward Scissorhands" (1990), a biker chick in the dog comedy "Beethoven" (1992), and Lukas Haas' mother in Burton's "Mars Attacks!" (1996). With co-writers and co-stars Andrea Stein and Jim Turner, Jones adapted and appeared in Paul Bartel's film version of their dark comedy "Still Life" (1993), about three siblings who have lived in a bomb shelter since 1963.

On the small screen, Jones has generally appeared in small roles in TV-movies like the acclaimed "A Death in Canaan" (CBS, 1978), "Convicted: A Mother's Story" (NBC, 1987) and "Danielle Steel's 'Secrets'" (NBC, 1992). She was a series regular as the town waitress in "Harts of the West" (CBS, 1993-94), alongside Beau Bridges and Harley Jane Kozak and has guested on such series as "Seinfeld" and "Chicago Hope".


Johnny Dark

married Jones' mother in the late 1960s

Halldor Enard

holds dual French and Icelandic citizenship

Scarlett Johnson

divorced Johnson's father married to second husband Johnny Dark in the late 1960s

Kristy Johnson


Sam Shepard Actor

Born November 5, 1943 in Illinois married on November 9, 1969 divorced in 1984

Jesse Shepard

born in May 1970


dropped out of school at age 14



Composed the chamber opera "The Woman Who Forgot Her Sweater"


Acted in the film "Live Virgin"


Was briefly seen in "The Truman Show" as a waitress


Had small role in Tim Burton's "Mars Attacks!"


Made cameo appearance in "Natural Born Killers"


Screenwriting debut, "Shelf Life"; adapted stage play with co-authors and co-stars Andrea Stein and Jim Turner; also co-starred


First collaboration with Tim Burton, "Edward Scissorhands"


Divorced Shepard


Made brief appearance in Phil Kaufman's "The Right Stuff", co-starring Sam Shepard


Feature film debut in Alan Parker's "Shoot the Moon", billed as O-lan Shepard


Co-wrote musical "After Stardive" with Kathleen Cramer


Founded Overtone Industries, a theater company


TV-movie debut, "A Death in Canaan", billed as O-lan Shepard


Lived in England with Shepard (dates approximate)


Married Shepard


First gained notice in Sam Shepard's play "Forensic and the Navigators"

Left school at 14 and began acting in off-off-Broadway productions

Raised in California

Moved with mother and sister to NYC

At age 15, moved with mother to the jungles of the Yucatan

Was series regular on the CBS drama "Harts of the West"

Resumed using her former stage name, O-Lan Jones

Bonus Trivia


Her mother named her after the heroine of Pearl S Buck's novel "The Good Earth".


"I'm probably the only actress in Hollywood who's waited more tables on-screen than off." --O-Lan Jones, quoted in the press kit for "Shelf Life" (1993).