He-Man Actor John Saxon Dies @ 83

Tough-guy actor John Saxon, whose career stretched from bit parts in the 1954 classics It Could Happen to You and A Star Is Born to 2015's The Extra, died Saturday of pneumonia at 83.

ExtraTV confirmed his death.

Saxon was born August 5, 1936 (some sources cite 1935), in Brooklyn. He was discovered at just 17 by infamous beefcake agent Henry Willson while modeling for magazines like True Romance, and studied with greats like Stella Adler in advance of being signed by Universal.

He hit the jackpot early on, becoming a teen heartthrob thanks to a small part in Rock, Pretty Baby! (1956) and its sequel Summer Love (1957) ... but while he was very comfortable using his body to sell a performance on the big screen, he was uncomfortable being seen as just another pretty face.

He landed meatier, multi-ethnic roles in Cry Tough (1959), The Unforgiven (1960), Portrait in Black (1960), The Cardinal (1963), the horror classic Queen of Blood (1966) and in The Appaloosa (1966) with Marlon Brando, the latter of which earned him a Golden Globe nomination.

Growing out of youth roles quickly, he became a durable tough guy with depth, logging 29 episodes of The Bold Ones: The New Doctors (1969-1972) on TV and graduating to gritty genre roles in Joe Kidd (1972) and Mitchell (1975).

His work with Bruce Lee was for kicks. (GIF via MakeAGif.com)

His most famous role was probably as Roper in Enter the Dragon (1973), which introduced Bruce Lee as an international movie star. It made good use of Saxon's machismo and his complexity as an actor.

His other most famous part was as Lt. Thompson, the heroine's dad, in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) and especially Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1995), his juiciest part in the franchise.

Swarthy good looks (Image via ABC)

Saxon worked prolifically on TV and in film, racking up over 200 credits. Later TV impressions were made as oil sheik Rashid Ahmed on Dynasty (1982-1984) and as Tony Cumson on Falcon Crest (1982-1988).

He is survived by his third wife, Gloria, two sons, one grandson, a great-grandson and his sister.

2 Responses

  1. In what movie John appeared [back] naked walking into shower???

    • Matthew Rettenmund

      Don’t know the image, sorry to say!

Leave a comment