Actress Barbara O. Jones, a Dayton native seen in esteemed ‘Daughters of the Dust,’ dies at 82



Dayton native Barbara O. Jones, a widely respected actress whose work illuminated the L.A. Rebellion movement of Black filmmakers at UCLA in the 1970s, died Apr. 16 at her Dayton home. She was 82.

Also credited as Barbarao, Barbara-O and BarbaraO during her career, Jones notably appeared in Julie Dash’s esteemed 1991 film “Daughters of the Dust,” which is part of the National Film Registry, and portrayed Muhammad Ali’s wife in the 1979 TV miniseries “Freedom Road.” Her credits include Haile Gerima’s “Child of Resistance” and “Bush Mama,” Donald Cammell’s “Demon Seed,” and Martin Mhando and Ron Mulvihill’s “Maangamizi: The Ancient One.” She also had guest roles on such classic TV shows as “Laverne and Shirley,” “Wonder Woman” and “Lou Grant.”

“I had the honor of working with Barbara O as her documentary editor in 1988 and 1989, when she was making a documentary about the Coalition for the Homeless,” said Academy Award-winning Yellow Springs documentarian Steven Bognar. “I loved working with Barbara O, who was so kind, patient and encouraging as we worked on shaping her footage into a short documentary.”

Jonathan McNeal, manager of The Neon in downtown Dayton, also expressed condolences.

“To me, she’s O,” McNeal said in an Apr. 19 Facebook post. “Her calls both grounded and elevated me … and though it’s been a while since she’d phoned, I can still hear her voice. Her earthly presence will be missed, but she will continue to lift us.”

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Jones was a graduate of Roosevelt High School, where her mother, Alberta, was a business teacher. She was also a radio personality who went by the name Bobbie Montgomery on WDAO in the late 1960s before making her way to California.

In addition to brothers Raymond and Marlon, survivors include her children, Gina and William.

About the Author