A Tribute To The Ringmaster, Freddie Jones

Freddie Jones as The Ringmaster in David Lynch's The Elephant Man

It was sadly announced this morning that another member of the Lynch family, Freddie Jones, has passed away. More recently known for his role as Sandy Thomas in the UK soap opera Emmerdale he was also famous for his roles in The Elephant Man, Wild at Heart, and Dune. But did you know he wasn’t always an actor?

While working as a laboratory assistant in his younger years, he was performing in amateur theatre as a side project. One day he decided to quit his job which he claimed was because of a “ban on beards”, and launched an acting career that lasted almost sixty years. Starting out in TV shows such as Z-Cars, The Avengers, and Space: 1999 he eventually began starring in Hollywood movies.

After being seen in a play by David Lynch they got coffee together, David asked him to appear in The Elephant Man as Mr. Bytes, The Ringmaster, but Freddie initially turned it down. He didn’t like the way the character had been written but eventually, after a lot of discussions, he got on board with it. He originally wanted to add more substance and background to the character but admitted himself that he failed to do so. Regardless of the differences behind the scenes he truly gives an outstanding performance in the movie. He stands out for all the right reasons and I genuinely couldn’t picture anybody else in that role now.

Freddie Jones in Dune

“He often dives in the deep-sea undertow, of the dark and dreaming mind”

A line from Freddie’s favorite poem, Portrait of a Romantic, which he often used to describe David Lynch. He said if you quoted that poem to David, he would throw his arms around you and kiss you with joy.

In the book of interviews, Lynch on Lynch, David said that Freddie was one of the greatest human beings on earth and had a lot of love for him. The love was evident as he went on to star as Thufir Hawat in Dune and George Kovich in Wild At Heart. David also flew him across the Atlantic so that he could appear in an episode of the short-lived HBO show Hotel Room. He appeared in countless other movies and TV shows but in his later years settled for a quiet-ish life in the Yorkshire Dales as Sandy Thomas in Emmerdale.

Freddie Jones as Sandy Thomas in the UK soap opera Emmerdale

He appeared in the show for over 13 years and was involved in hard-hitting story-lines such as abuse of the elderly and losing his son to early vascular dementia. He left the show in 2018 to retire and this morning his agent, Lesley Duff, announced that he had passed away at the age of 91.

“It is with great sadness that I can confirm the death of Freddie Jones. He passed away on the evening of July 9 after a short illness. Freddie was a much loved and admired actor, known for his triumphs in classical theatre, film, and television. He will be greatly missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him and most especially his family.”

Father of the equally talented actor Toby and his brothers Casper and Rupert he will be truly missed. He had a truly unique acting style, great humor, and was charming to everyone that knew him. Often described as a legend and one of the most brilliant actors ever, his death will definitely leave a huge hole in the world of entertainment that can never be filled.

Written by Martin Hearn

Martin Hearn is a Social Media Manager for 25YL who also writes, has a penchant for interviews, watches too much TV, and plays too many video games. He joined the site through his love of Twin Peaks and also has a passion for shows such as The OA, The Crown, American Horror Story, Lost, and Desperate Housewives. His hobbies include insomnia, dancing in secret, and buying too much Twin Peaks merchandise from eBay. Martin lives in Middlesbrough, UK, which is the birthplace of the Parmo (you may want to google that amazingly beautiful delicacy that definitely won't cause a heart attack). He loves spending long weekends binge-watching TV shows with his partner Anthony.

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