John Ericson, the handsome German-born actor who made his mark on Broadway, in the movies, on TV and in the pages of Playgirl Magazine, died at 93 on May 3 at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
THR reports the actor died of pneumonia.
Born on September 25, 1926, in Düsseldorf, Germany, he moved to the U.S., Detroit first and then Chicago. He eventually settled in NYC, where he studied acting at the Academy of Dramatic Arts.
On TV from 1950, he acted in the original Broadway production of Stalag 17, directed by José Ferrer (1912-1992). He made his film debut in 1951's Teresa, opposite Pier Angeli (1932-1971).
Ericson appeared in a variety of films, including Rhapsody (1954) with Elizabeth Taylor (1932-2011), The Student Prince (1954), Green Fire (1954), Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), Forty Guns (1957) and Day of the Badman (1958), 7 Faces of Dr. Lau (1964) among many more.
He was more dominant on TV, including in many episodic appearances, but made a lasting impression playing Sam Bolt opposite Anne Francis's (1930-2011) title character on Honey West (1965-1966).
His film work having dried up, he did appear in the children's classic Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971) with Angela Lansbury (b. 1925) before deciding to pose fully nude in the January 1974 issue of Playgirl. Having thought the racy spread — which included some of his beloved wild animals — would reinvigorate his career, and discovering that it did not, and that Playgirl reused the images without inclusion on their cover, Ericson sued the magazine. He won a small amount in damages.
Ericson continued acting until the late '80s, when he mostly retired. He returned to the big screen for 2006's The Far Side of Jericho and to TV for one episode of Crash (2008), the latter of which became his final acting gig in any medium.
He is survived by his second wife, Karen, and his daughter.
Damn! He looked very good for his age in that Playgirl shot if he was born in 1927. Wow!
He was the same age as my father, who died last summer. I cannot imagine my dad posing for Playgirl in the 70’s! That’s brilliant, though sorry they didn’t give him the cover, as promised.