A beautiful pinup girl of the World War II era who became an agent for the U.S. intelligence services during the Cold War, Candy Jones was born on December 31, 1925, in Atlantic City, New Jersey as Jessica Arline Wilcox. Despite little Candy being raised by a wealthy family her childhood was a nightmare. At age three her parents divorced and her mother took Candy to live with her grandmother in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Candy’s parents physically abused her. Her father, on a home visit, crushed her fingers in a nutmeg grater and her manic-depressive mother beat her on the legs so badly that Candy had to wear thick stockings to conceal the welts. Her mother often locked her in dark rooms and did not allow her to bring friends home from school.
Inside these rooms the vulnerable little girl developed a fantasy family to keep her company and help her through her lonely periods. She visualized her friends appearing in the twilight reflections of a large wall mirror. All the figures of this imagined world faded away after Candy’s childhood, except for one, “Arlene.” Her personality was the reverse of Candy’s and had some of her mother’s characteristics. She was tough and ruthless, sarcastic and cruel, had a domineering personality with a grating low voice, and was always trying to run things.
When her grandmother died, mother and daughter returned to Atlantic City, where the young girl’s life was uneventful: sheltered, protected, and closely supervised by her mother. After graduating from high school, she won the Miss Atlantic City contest and pursued a career as a fashion model. Her long blond hair, perfect features, and towering height (she was about six foot four), made it easy for her to become a successful model. She subsequently changed her name to Candy Jones and in the 1940s and 1950s she was a famous model and one of the leading pinup girls. Her face graced the covers of eleven major national magazines in a single month in 1943.
During the Pacific campaign of World War II, while touring military bases with the United Service Organizations (USO) in 1945, Candy became ill with undulant fever and malaria, and was put in a special hospital in the Philippines. There she met with a man who told her that his name was Dr. Gilbert Jensen. He claimed to be a young medical officer, but in reality he was Dr. William S. Kroger, a psychologist at UCLA. This acquaintance was crucial for her life, with almost disastrous consequences.
In 1946, Candy married fashion czar Harry Conover, creator of the “cover girl” concept. Although she gave birth to three sons, she continued modeling and opened her own modeling agency next to her husband’s office. She also published books about glamour and fashion and about her experiences touring for the USO during World War II. However, her marriage was not a happy one and was destined to fail due to Conover’s being gay. In 1959, the couple divorced, leaving her with custody of their three sons and responsible for quite a bit of debt, including her ex-husband’s, who had disappeared after he withdrew all the money from their bank accounts.