updated 07/09/2014 AT 11:00 AM ET
•originally published 07/09/2014 AT 12:05 PM ET
The title star’s conscience may have been Jiminy Cricket, but his voice in the 1940 Walt Disney animated feature Pinocchio belonged to 10-year-old Dick Jones, who made millions of fellow youngsters cry when his screen character was reunited with his father and then turned into a real boy.
Jones, not only the voice of Pinocchio but the veteran of 40 movies before he landed that role, died Monday night after a fall in his San Fernando Valley, California, home, his son, Rick Jones, told the Los Angeles Times. He was 87.
Inducted in 2000 as a “Disney Legend” at the studio that produced the beloved movie (which, coincidentally, was a box-office flop upon its initial release), Jones said: “At the time, Pinocchio was just a job. Who knew it would turn out to be the classic that it is today? I count my lucky stars that I had a part in it.”
His work on it lasted 19 months. He also rankled when anyone called the film a “cartoon.” “It’s an animated feature!” he’d respond in a huff.
According to the Associated Press, Jones was the son of a Texas newspaper editor and learned to ride and rope from an early age. By the time he was 4, he’d had a Western show career, which was parlayed on to the screen.