August 5, 1936
|Died||July 25, 2020 (aged 83)|
Murfreesboro, Tennessee, U.S.
|Resting place||Seattle, Washington, U.S.|
John Saxon (born Carmine Orrico; August 5, 1936 – July 25, 2020) was an American actor who worked on more than 200 projects during a span of 60 years. He was known for his work in Westerns and horror films, often playing police officers and detectives.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Saxon studied acting with Stella Adler before beginning his career as a contract actor for Universal Pictures, appearing in such films as Rock, Pretty Baby (1956) and Portrait in Black (1961), which earned him a reputation as a teen idol and won him a Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actor. During the 1970s and 1980s, he established himself as a character actor, frequently portraying law enforcement officials in horror films such as Black Christmas (1974), Dario Argento's Tenebrae (1982), and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).
Saxon appeared in numerous Italian films from the early sixties. In a 2002 interview, he said of this period: "At the time Hollywood was going through a crisis, but England and Italy were making a great many films. Besides, I thought the European films were of a much more mature quality than most of what Hollywood was making at the time." Saxon appeared in Italian productions all through the 1970's and 1980's, up until 1994, when he made Jonathan of the Bears.
In addition to his roles in horror films, Saxon co-starred with Bruce Lee in the martial arts film Enter the Dragon (1973), and he had supporting roles in the westerns The Appaloosa (1966; for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture), Death of a Gunfighter (1969) and Joe Kidd (1972), as well as the made-for-television thriller Raid on Entebbe (1977). In the 1990s, Saxon occasionally appeared in films, with small roles in Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994) and From Dusk till Dawn (1996).
Saxon, an Italian American, was born Carmine Orrico in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Antonio Orrico, a dock worker, and Anna (née Protettore). Both were immigrants from Italy. He attended New Utrecht High School. He then studied acting with famous acting coach Stella Adler. He started acting in films during the mid-1950s, playing teenage roles. According to Robert Hofler's 2005 biography The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson, agent Henry Willson saw Saxon's picture on the cover of a detective magazine, where Saxon posed as “a Puerto Rican guy” who gets shot and falls over a garbage can while his girlfriend looks on. Willson immediately contacted the boy's family in Brooklyn. With his parents' permission, the 17-year-old Orrico contracted with Willson, and he was given the stage name John Saxon. He contracted with Universal Studios in April 1954 at $150 a week. Saxon was proficient in Judo and Shotokan Karate.
Saxon spent 18 months at Universal before the studio first used him in a film. His first significant role was a juvenile delinquent in Running Wild (1955), co-starring Mamie Van Doren. According to Filmink, "young Saxon had a scowling, broody teen quality that was in fashion in mid-‘50s Hollywood."
He was then given a good role in The Unguarded Moment (1956), playing a youth who seemingly stalks Esther Williams. During February 1956 Universal exercised its option on Saxon and he was paid $225 a week.
Saxon had the lead in a low budget teen film, Rock, Pretty Baby (1956) which became an unexpected success and established Saxon as a teen idol. Universal executives were pleased, and Ross Hunter announced he would be in Teach Me How To Cry. First Saxon quickly reprised his Rock, Pretty Baby role in a sequel, Summer Love (1958). By now he was getting about 3,000 fan letters a week.
Universal put him in an "A film", This Happy Feeling (1958), directed by Blake Edwards, where Saxon romanced Debbie Reynolds in support of Curt Jurgens. MGM borrowed him to appear opposite Sandra Dee in The Reluctant Debutante (1958), for director Vincente Minnelli, which was widely seen. Saxon was billed third, beneath Rex Harrison and Kay Kendall.
He had a support role in a large budget Biblical drama about Simon Peter, The Big Fisherman (1959) for director Frank Borzage, starring Howard Keel. Released by Buena Vista instead of Universal-International, it was a financial disappointment.
In August 1958 Saxon signed a three-picture deal with Hecht-Hill-Lancaster the first of which was to be the main role in Cry Tough (1959), a film about juvenile delinquents. He was meant to follow it with The Ballad at Cat Ballou (not made for years later, with Jane Fonda). Instead for HHL he worked with another major director, John Huston, in the Western The Unforgiven (1960), playing an Indian in support of Burt Lancaster and Audrey Hepburn.
He was essentially a juvenile delinquent cowboy in The Plunderers (1960), tormenting Jeff Chandler. He played in the Western Posse from Hell (1961) with Audie Murphy and guest starred in television series like General Electric Theater and The Dick Powell Theatre.
"I want to do all sorts of character parts," he said in 1960.
Saxon played a serial killer soldier in War Hunt (1962) and had a small role in the comedy success Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962). According to Filmink "Universal seemed to lose enthusiasm for him as a potential star. Maybe he was too 'ethnic' looking. Too associated with teen roles. Maybe he didn't want it. Maybe there were no suitable parts. In the long run, it probably worked out best for Saxon – he never would be as popular at the box office as teen idols like, say, Sandra Dee, Pat Boone or Troy Donahue, but he would go on to have a far more versatile, rich career than either."
In 1966, he starred in Curtis Harrington's science fiction/horror classic Queen of Blood with Basil Rathbone and Dennis Hopper, then appeared opposite Marlon Brando in The Appaloosa (1966), winning a Golden Globe Best Supporting Actor nomination for his portrayal of a Mexican bandit. Saxon recalls, "This was to me a terrific role and something I was ready for, but he [Brando] was despondent. He said he had lent a whole bunch of money to his father, and what he was saying to me was that his father ruined his life by losing all of his money. He was kind of bored in the picture."
He portrayed Marco Polo in episode 26 of The Time Tunnel ("Attack of the Barbarians"), originally broadcast on March 10, 1967, and was a guest actor on Bonanza in 1967 ("The Conquistadores"). In episode 19, season 5 of The Virginian ("The Modoc Kid") Saxon appeared in the title role alongside Harrison Ford, appearing in one of his first speaking roles. And in 1969 he appeared in Bonanza again ("My Friend, My Enemy").
Saxon was in a sex comedy for Sam Katzman, For Singles Only (1968), and appeared in some Westerns, One Dollar Too Many (1968), Death of a Gunfighter (1969), The Men from Shiloh (rebranded name for The Virginian, 1971), and Joe Kidd (1972) (again playing a Mexican, this time a revolutionary named Luis Chama). I Kiss the Hand (1973) was a thriller made in Italy.
Saxon, who had done martial arts since 1957 appeared as the martial artist Roper in 1973's Enter the Dragon. It was Bruce Lee's first major role in a Hollywood feature. Saxon almost backed out of Enter the Dragon, on account of the script being too light. "It was a sixty page treatment", said Saxon in a 2002 interview. "I thought: there’s not enough to act here. A stunt man could play it. But they talked me into it, saying they would work in my suggestions. Some things they shot and kept in the film, but most of it they discarded." After Enter the Dragon, Saxon had no further interest in appearing in martial arts films.
He was in action films: Mitchell (1975), The Swiss Conspiracy (1975), Strange Shadows in an Empty Room (1976), Napoli violenta (1976), Mark Strikes Again (1976), A Special Cop in Action (1976), Cross Shot (1976), The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist (1977).
In 1974 he appeared as police Lieutenant Fuller in the slasher horror film Black Christmas. From 1974–76, he appeared in The Six Million Dollar Man, first as Major Frederick Sloan and then as Nedlick. This role also extended into The Bionic Woman. The actor's likeness was later used for the Kenner action-figure doll called 'Maskatron' which was based on the series.
Saxon starred as Dylan Hunt in the 1974 Gene Roddenberry television pilot Planet Earth, replacing Alex Cord from Genesis II. A 20th Century scientist unfrozen in the post-nuclear world of 2133, he leads a team of explorers and encounters a matriarchal society. Although ABC declined the series, Saxon played a nearly identical character in the 1975 television film Strange New World.
In 1976, Saxon portrayed a homicidal vampire-like strangler in the Season Two Starsky & Hutch episode 'Vampire'. He played Captain Radl in the two-part Wonder Woman episode "The Feminine Mystique" (1976). Raid on Entebbe (1977) was a prestige television movie for him. Moonshine County Express was a big success for Roger Corman's New World Pictures; Saxon made another for that company, The Bees (1978). He appeared in a Bollywood movie, Shalimar (1978) then it was back to exploitation: Fast Company (1979), The Glove (1979).
He appeared in the 1982 television movie Rooster, and he was an occasional celebrity guest on the short-lived game show Whew!, including during the series' final week. His extensive television credits include two years as Tony Cumson on Falcon Crest (1982, 1986–1988) as well as the recurring role of Rashid Ahmed on Dynasty (1982–84). He appeared twice (in different roles) on The A-Team, in 1983 and 1985.
Saxon played in Dario Argento's Tenebrae (1982) as the writer hero's shifty agent; in Battle Beyond the Stars (1980) as Sador; in Cannibal Apocalypse (1980) where he played a Vietnam veteran tormented because his worthless pal bit him and years later, he is starting to get the urge to do the same; in Prisoners of the Lost Universe as an alternate-universe warlord, and in Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) as the heroine's (Nancy Thompson's) father. He reprised his role in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) and Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994) as he played himself in a dual role. He also made his directorial debut in 1987 with the horror film Zombie Death House, which starred Dennis Cole and Anthony Franciosa. Filmink wrote "Few other actors of his generation have as fine a track record in" horror movies. "Why did he appear in so many? I guess for starters he was willing – he wasn’t snobby. He made a good on-screen cop and there’s always roles for a cop actor in a slasher film. He could also seem scary so made an excellent red herring/villain."
In later years, Saxon continued to appear mostly in independent films and appeared in several television series. He had a notable guest part in "Grave Danger", the 5th-season finale of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, which was directed by From Dusk till Dawn screenwriter and star Quentin Tarantino. Saxon starred in the episode opposite fellow cult film luminary Andrew Prine. He also appeared in an episode ("Pelts") of the anthology horror series Masters of Horror, which reunited him with Tenebrae director Dario Argento.
Saxon was a regular guest at horror and cult film conventions, including the Creation Entertainment – Weekend of Horrors 2010 on May 21, 2010, in Los Angeles. His last acting role was in the film Bring Me the Head of Lance Henriksen, which as of his death was in post-production.
Saxon was married three times, first to screenwriter Mary Ann Saxon, then to psychologist & former investment banker, Elizabeth Saxon, and finally to Gloria Martel Saxon, a model, esthetician, author, and speaker. He had one child with Mary Ann, a son named Antonio.
Death Certificate for John Saxon states the cause of death; Late Stage Alzheimer's -not pneumonia- in Murfreesboro, Tennessee on July 25, 2020, at the age of 83, eleven days before his 84th birthday. His remains were laid to rest at Lake View Cemetery in Seattle, Washington-the same location as his Enter the Dragon costar, Bruce Lee. When facing Bruce and Brandon Lee's grave site at Lake View Cemetery, John is located 25 to 30 feet to the right.
|1954||It Should Happen to You||Boy Watching Argument in Park||Uncredited|
|A Star Is Born||Movie Premiere Usher|
|1955||Running Wild||Vince Pomeroy|
|1956||The Unguarded Moment||Leonard Bennett|
|Rock, Pretty Baby||Jimmy Daley|
|1957||Summer Love||Jimmy Daley|
|1958||This Happy Feeling||Bill Tremaine|
|The Reluctant Debutante||David Parkson|
|The Restless Years||Will Henderson|
|1959||Cry Tough||Miguel Antonio Enrico Francisco Estrada|
|The Big Fisherman||Prince Voldi|
|1960||The Unforgiven||Johnny Portugal|
|Portrait in Black||Blake Richards|
|1961||Posse from Hell||Seymour Kern|
|1962||War Hunt||Pvt. Raymond Endore|
|Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation||Byron Grant|
|1963||The Girl Who Knew Too Much||Dr. Marcello Bassi|
|The Cardinal||Benny Rampell|
|1964||The Cavern||Pvt. Joe Cramer|
|1965||The Ravagers||Capt. Kermit Dowling|
|The Night Caller||Dr. Jack Costain|
|1966||Queen of Blood||Allan Brenner|
|The Appaloosa||Chuy Medina|
|1968||For Singles Only||Bret Hendley|
|One Dollar Too Many||Clay Watson|
|1969||Death of a Gunfighter||Lou Trinidad|
|1971||Mr Kingstreet's War||Jim Kingstreet|
|1972||Joe Kidd||Luis Chama|
|I Kiss the Hand||Gaspare Ardizzone|
|1973||Enter the Dragon||Roper|
|1974||Black Christmas||Lt. Ken Fuller|
|1975||Metralleta 'Stein'||Mariano Beltrán|
|1976||The Swiss Conspiracy||Robert Hayes|
|Strange Shadows in an Empty Room||Sgt. Ned Matthews|
|Violent Naples||Francesco Capuano|
|Mark Strikes Again||Inspector Altman|
|A Special Cop in Action||Jean Albertelli|
|Cross Shot||Commissioner Jacovella|
|1977||The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist||Frank Di Maggio|
|Moonshine County Express||J.B. Johnson|
|Tre soldi e la donna di classe||Unfinished|
|1978||The Bees||John Norman|
|1979||Fast Company||Phil Adamson|
|The Glove||Sam Kellog|
|The Electric Horseman||Hunt Sears|
|1980||Beyond Evil||Larry Andrews|
|Cannibal Apocalypse||Norman Hopper|
|Battle Beyond the Stars||Sador|
|Running Scared||Captain Munoz|
|1981||Blood Beach||Captain Pearson|
|1982||Wrong Is Right||Homer Hubbard|
|Una di troppo||Sergio Puccini the notary|
|The Scorpion with Two Tails||Arthur Barnard|
|1983||Prisoners of the Lost Universe||Kleel|
|The Big Score||Davis|
|1984||A Nightmare on Elm Street||Lt. Donald Thompson|
|1985||Fever Pitch||The Sports Editor|
|1986||Hands of Steel||Francis Turner|
|1987||A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors||Donald Thompson|
|House Made of Dawn||Tosamah|
|Death House||Colonel Gordon Burgess||Also director|
|1989||My Mom's a Werewolf||Harry Thropen|
|Criminal Act||Herb Tamplin|
|The Last Samurai||Haroun Al-Hakim|
|The Final Alliance||Ghost|
|Crossing the Line||Jack Kagan|
|Blood Salvage||Clifford Evans|
|1991||The Arrival||Agent Mills|
|1992||Maximum Force||Captain Fuller|
|1993||The Baby Doll Murders||John Maglia|
|No Escape No Return||James Mitchell|
|Jonathan of the Bears||Fred Goodwin|
|1994||Beverly Hills Cop III||Orrin Sanderson|
|Killing Obsession||Dr. Sachs|
|Wes Craven's New Nightmare||Himself/Donald Thompson|
|Frame-Up II: The Cover-Up||Charles Searage|
|1996||From Dusk till Dawn||FBI Agent Stanley Chase||Cameo appearance|
|1997||The Killers Within||Detective Lewis|
|Lancelot: Guardian of Time||Wolvencroft|
|1998||The Party Crashers||Mr. Foster|
|Joseph's Gift||Jacob Keller|
|1999||Criminal Minds||Antonio DiPaolo Jr.|
|2001||Final Payback||Police Chief George Moreno|
|2002||Outta Time||James Darabont|
|2003||The Road Home||Michael Curtis|
|2006||The Craving Heart||Richard Tom|
|Trapped Ashes||Leo||Segment: "Stanley's Girlfriend"|
|2008||God's Ears||Lee Robinson|
|The Mercy Man||Father McMurray|
|2010||Genghis Khan: The Story Of A Lifetime||Chiledu|
|2015||The Dentros||George Dentros||Short|
|2017||The Extra||Victor Vallient|
|TBA||Bring Me the Head of Lance Henriksen||John||Post-production|
|1955||Medic||Danny Ortega||— "Walk with Lions"|
|1961||General Electric Theater||Martin Glass||— "Cate in the Cradle"|
|1962||The Dick Powell Theatre||Nick Giller||— "A Time to Die"|
|1963–1964||Burke's Law||Gil Lynch / Bud Charney||2 episodes
— "Who Killed Cable Roberts" (1963)
— "Who Killed the Horne of Plenty?" (1964)
|1964||Another World||Edward Gerard #1||(8/30/1985–2/26/1986)|
|1964–1966||Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre||Mario Silvetti / Augie||2 episodes
— "Echo of Evil" (1964)
— "After the Lion, Jackals" (1966)
|1965–1975||Gunsmoke||Gristy Calhoun / Pedro Manez / Virgil Stanley / Cal Strom, Jr. / Dingo||5 episodes
— "Dry Road to Nowhere" (1965)
— "The Avengers" (1965)
— "The Whispering Tree" (1966)
— "The Pillagers" (1967)
— "The Squaw" (1975)
|1966||Dr. Kildare||Richard Ross||2 episodes
— "The Art of Taking a Powder"
— "Read the Book and Then See the Picture"
|The Doomsday Flight||George Ducette||Television film|
|1967||The Time Tunnel||Marco Polo||— "Attack of the Barbarians"|
|Winchester 73||Dakin McAdam||Television film|
|Cimarron Strip||Screamer||— "Journey to a Hanging"|
|Garrison's Gorillas||Janus||— "20 Gallons to Kill"|
|1967–1969||Bonanza||Chief Jocova / Blas / Steven Friday||3 episodes
— "Black Friday" (1967)
— "The Conquistadores" (1967)
— "My Friend, My Enemy" (1969)
|1967–1970||Ironside||Eric Saginor / Carter||2 episodes
— "An Inside Job" (1967)
— "Ransom" (1970)
|1967–1971||The Virginian||Sergeant Terence Mulcahy / Ben Oakes / Dell Stetler||3 episodes
— "The Modoc Kid" (1967)
— "Vision of Blindness" (1968)
— "The Regimental Line" (1971)
|1968||It Takes a Thief||Dead Man||— "A Thief Is a Thief"|
|The Name of the Game||Peter Max||— "Collector's Edition"|
|Istanbul Express||Cheval||Television film|
|1969||The Bold Ones: The New Doctors||Dr. Theodore Stuart||recurring role (29 episodes)|
|1970||Company of Killers||Dave Poohler||Television film|
|The Intruders||Billy Pye||Television film|
|1972||The Sixth Sense||Dr. Harry Auden||— "Lady, Lady, Take My Life"|
|Night Gallery||Ianto (segment "I'll Never Leave You – Ever")||— "I'll Never Leave You – Ever / There Aren't Any More MacBanes"|
|Kung Fu||Raven||— "King of the Mountain"|
|Banyon||Johnny Clay||— "The Clay Clarinet"|
|Norman Corwin Presents||unknown role||— "The Better It Looks, the Worse It Is"|
|1973||Snatched||Paul Maxvill||Television film|
|The Streets of San Francisco||Vincent "Vince" Hagopian, Jr.||— "A Collection of Eagles"|
|The Rookies||Farley||— "Cauldron"|
|Linda||Jeff Braden||Television film|
|Police Story||Rick Calvelli||— "Death on Credit"|
|1974||Banacek||Harry Harland||— "The Vanishing Chalice"|
|Can Ellen Be Saved?||James Hallbeck||Television film|
|Planet Earth||Dylan Hunt||Television film|
|The Mary Tyler Moore Show||Mike Tedesco||— "Menage-a-Phyllis"|
|1974–1976||The Six Million Dollar Man||Nedlick / Major Frederick Sloan||2 episodes
— "Day of the Robot" (1974)
— "The Return of Bigfoot: Part 1" (1976)
|1975||Crossfire||Dave Ambrose||Television film|
|Strange New World||Captain Anthony Vico||Television film|
|Petrocelli||Richie Martin||— "Mark of Cain"|
|1976||The Rockford Files||Dave Delaroux||— "A Portrait of Elizabeth"|
|The Bionic Woman||Nedlick||— "The Return of Bigfoot: Part 2"|
|Starsky and Hutch||Rene Nadasy||— "The Vampire"|
|Wonder Woman||Captain Horst Radl||2 episodes|
|Once an Eagle||Captain Townshend||Miniseries (4 episodes)|
|Raid on Entebbe||General Benny Peled||Television film|
|1977||Most Wanted||Randall Mason||— "The Insider"|
|The Fantastic Journey||Consul Tarant||— "A Dream of Conquest"|
|Westside Medical||Bob Farrow||— "Intensive Care"|
|Quincy M.E.||Publisher Charles Desskasa||— "Sullied By Thy Name"|
|79 Park Avenue||Harry Vito||Miniseries (3 episodes)|
|1978||The Immigrants||Alan Brocker||Television film|
|Greatest Heroes of the Bible||Adonijah||— "The Judgement of Solomon"|
|1978–1984||Fantasy Island||Michael Anderson / Cyrano de Bergerac / Monsieur Berandt Sabatier / Evan Watkins / Professor Harold DeHaven / Colin McArthur / Dr. Roger Sullivan||6 episodes|
|1979||Hawaii Five-O||Harry Clive||— "The Bark and the Bite"|
|1980||Vega$||Michael Jennings||— "Aloha, You're Dead"|
|1981||Golden Gate||Monty Sager||Television film|
|1982||Rooster||Jerome Brademan||Television film|
|1982–1984||Dynasty||Rashid Ahmed||Recurring role (6 episodes)|
|1982–1988||Falcon Crest||Tony Cumson||Recurring role (32 episodes)|
|1983||Savage in the Orient||Nick Costa||Television film|
|Hardcastle and McCormick||Martin Cody||— "Rolling Thunder"|
|Scarecrow and Mrs. King||Dirk Fredericks||2 episodes
— "The First Time"
— "Saved by the Bells"
|1983–1985||The A-Team||Kalem / Martin James||2 episodes
— "Children of Jamestown" (1983)
— "Moving Targets" (1985)
|1984||Magnum P.I.||Ed Russler||— "Jororo Farewell"|
|Masquerade||Joey Savane||— "The French Correction"|
|Finder of Lost Loves||Commander Zach Donahue||— "White Lies"|
|American Playhouse Presents||Epps||— "Solomon Northup's Odyssey"|
|1984–1994||Murder, She Wrote||Bernardo Bonelli / Marco Gambini / Jerry Lydecker||3 episodes
— "Hooray for Homicide" (1984)
— "A Very Good Year for Murder" (1988)
— "Proof in the Pudding" (1994)
|1985||Half Nelson||unknown role||— "Diplomatic Immunity"|
|Brothers-in-Law||Royal Cane||Television film|
|Glitter||The Author||— "The Matriarch"|
|1987||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Garth December||— "The Specialty of the House"|
|Hotel||Jack Curtis||— "Fallen Angel"|
|1989||The Ray Bradbury Theatre||Dudley Stone||— "The Wonderful Death of Dudley Stone"|
|1991||Monsters||Benjamin O'Connell||— "The Waiting Room"|
|Matlock||John Franklin||— "The Parents"|
|Payoff||Rafael Concion||Television film|
|In the Heat of the Night||Dalton Sykes||— "Liar's Poker"|
|1992||Lucky Luke||The Man in Black||— "Magia Indiana"|
|1994–1995||Melrose Place||Henry Waxman||recurring role (4 episodes)|
|1995||Liz: The Elizabeth Taylor Story||Richard Brooks||Television film|
|1996||Kung Fu: The Legend Continues||Straker||— "Escape"|
|1997||California||Don Rafael Guevara||— "Episode #1.1"|
|2001||Living in Fear||Reverend Leo Hausman||Television film|
|2005||CSI: Crime Scene Investigation||Walter Gordon||— "Grave Danger: Part 1"|
|2006||Masters of Horror||Jeb "Pa" Jameson||— "Pelts"|
|2009||War Wolves||Tony Ford||Television film|
Beverly Hills Shorts Festival
FAIF International Film Festival
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to John Saxon.|
Presented content of the Wikipedia article was extracted in 2021-06-13 based on https://en.wikipedia.org/?curid=488940