‘Flash Gordon’ star turns to faith

Actor speaks to group in Durango

“Flash Gordon” star Sam J. Jones talks to a group of men and boys Saturday morning at the Durango Community Recreation Center. Enlarge photo

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

“Flash Gordon” star Sam J. Jones talks to a group of men and boys Saturday morning at the Durango Community Recreation Center.

When “Flash Gordon” star Sam J. Jones decided to become an actor, he did not realize that his life would have significant ups and downs, or that he eventually would become a role model for both men and boys.

Jones, who spoke Saturday morning to a group of men and boys at the Durango Community Recreation Center, said he now realizes that it is important to be a good role model.

“Kids are going to mimic and imitate your behavior,” he said.

Jones, who played a caricature of himself in the 2012 movie “Ted,” was at the rec center at the behest of Durango’s New Hope church.

Jones, an Illinois native who was raised in Sacramento, Calif., has seen his life take many turns. He has been a Marine, an actor and an international security expert. He said he lays his current success at the hands of God, as well as his wife, Ramona.

“I tried life without God,” he said, and when life “falls,” its falls.

He first “received the Lord when I went into boot camp,” but didn’t really believe until 20 years later, he told the group.

“My biggest thing over the years (has been) anger,” and learning to deal with it appropriately. He turned to Proverbs 18:1 to explain how he eventually learned to deal with anger: “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.”

Jones not only was a Marine but also played semi-pro football, drove a Pepsi delivery truck and worked other odd jobs. He envied Clint Eastwood for his success in Hollywood and told people he wanted to be like Eastwood.

It was during one of those jobs in Seattle that Jones said he was told by an angel to stop saying what he wanted to do and do it.

Jones bought a family member’s Dodge Coronet 440 and drove it to Los Angeles. His first role was as Bo Derek’s husband in the Blake Edwards’ film “10” with the late Dudley Moore.

During the making of that film, director Dino De Laurentiis asked him to audition for a remake of venerable sci-fi hero of Flash Gordon, made famous by former Olympian Buster Crabbe.

The film originally was more successful overseas than in the U.S. but found a following in the video market.

With “Flash,” Jones said he became haughty and arrogant, and with these and other successes, he was living a Hollywood lifestyle despite his professions of being a “good” Christian. He said he committed adultery against his first wife and abused alcohol and marijuana.

It wasn’t until his pastor in California led him to Proverbs that Jones recognized his inner anger. The pastor told him to read one Proverb each day. It was then that Jones said he finally learned to work through his anger. That inner anger, he said, had resulted in a failed marriage and other problems.

Jones married Ramona in 1992, about five years after the divorce.

“My wife has been instrumental in my walk with God,” Jones said. “My wife has always been the prayer warrior in our house.”

Jones quoted Proverbs again (31:11): “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain.”

He also understood how he had been a “professed” Christian, but not necessarily a “good” Christian. Jones cited Billy Graham’s restatement of St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times – if necessary, use words.”

He understood that saying he was a Christian didn’t make him one – that actions, indeed, speak louder than words.

All of those positive changes in his life also led to success in another career: international security. Jones is CEO of Inner Cordon Inc., which now deals with protecting important people who have dealings in Mexico.

One of his early clients was Roland Arnall, founder of the subprime lender Ameriquest, who became U.S. ambassador to The Netherlands. After the housing market and lending crisis of 2008, Ameriquest was partially absorbed by other banks and the retail mortgage unit was shut down.

Jones said he now focuses on his various careers, his family – including children ages 11 to 29 – and his faith.

He told the men and boys at the rec center that “I’m standing on Mark 11:23,” which says: “Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.”

Jones’ recent successes seem to echo Mark closely.