Actor Dean Jones
Actor Dean Jones dies at age of 84Facebook

Actor and singer Dean Jones, best known for his character race car driver Jim Douglas in The Love Bug hit Disney franchise, has died at the age of 84.

Spokesman Richard Hoffman said Jones died on Tuesday (1 September) in Los Angeles. He died of complications related to Parkinson's disease.

Jones started his career as a teenage radio host and performer in amateur musical revues before becoming a stage actor. Then, together with child star Hayley Mills, he became the face of Disney, more often than not, playing alongside intelligent animals in That Darn Cat, The Ugly Dachshund, Monkeys, Go Home, The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit and The Shaggy DA.

The New York Times said the actor's best known role was in The Love Bug where he worked with a Volkswagen Beetle called Herbie, which had a mind of its own. He reprised the role in the 1977 sequel Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo and in the 1982 TV series Herbie, the Love Bug.

Although The Love Bug was remade as a TV movie in 1997, Jones again played the part of Douglas but the star of the show was Bruce Campbell, the newspaper noted.

He has acted alongside famous names like Jane Fonda, Hayley Mills, James Cagney, Barbara Stanwyck, Elvis Presley, Glenn Ford and Frank Sinatra, among others.

He became a born again Christian in 1973 after a religious awakening following a night of drinking and reckless stunt driving at a construction site in which he and a passenger could have been killed.

Actor Dean Jones
Actor Dean Jones and wife Lory at the cocktail reception at the 10th Annual Art Directors Guild Awards in 2006 in Beverly Hills, California. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

"A tremendous sense of fulfillment that had eluded me all my life became the 'sign' I had asked God for," he recounted in his autobiography Under Running Laughter, The New York Times said.

Although he continued to appear occasionally in Hollywood films including in the 1994 Clear and Present Danger, he mostly confined his work to Christian-themed straight-to-video films, and to an organisation that he and his wife founded in 1998, the Christian Rescue Fund, a support group for Christians, Jews and others who have been persecuted because of their faith.

Jones, from Alabama, is survived by his wife of 42 years, a former model and actress, Lory, and three children - two from his first marriage, Caroline Jones and Deanna Demaree and a son Michael Patrick, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.