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John Saxon Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (3)  | Trade Mark (4)  | Trivia (23)  | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (4)

Born in Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA
Died in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, USA  (pneumonia)
Birth NameCarmine Orrico
Height 5' 9" (1.75 m)

Mini Bio (1)

John Saxon appeared in nearly 200 roles in the movies and on television in a more-than half-century-long career that has stretched over seven decades since he made his big screen debut in 1954 in uncredited small roles in It Should Happen to You (1954) and George Cukor's A Star Is Born (1954). Born Carmine Orrico on August 5, 1936 in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Italian-American parents, Antonio Orrico and Anna (née Protettore), he studied acting with Stella Adler after graduating from New Utrecht High School.

He was discovered by talent agent Henry Willson, the man most famous for creating and representing Rock Hudson (as well as a stable of "beefcake" male stars and starlets), who signed him up after he saw Saxon's picture on the cover of a magazine. Willson brought the 16-year-old to Southern California, changed his name to John Saxon, and launched his career. Saxon made his television debut on Richard Boone's series Medic (1954) in 1955 and got his first substantial (and credited) role in Running Wild (1955), playing a juvenile delinquent. In the Esther Williams vehicle The Unguarded Moment (1956) (one of her rare dramatic roles), the film's marketing campaign spotlighted him, trumpeting the movie as "Co-starring the exciting new personality John Saxon.".

By 1958, he seemed to have established himself as a supporting player in A-List pictures, being featured in Blake Edwards's comedy This Happy Feeling (1958) headlined by Debbie Reynolds and Vincente Minnelli's The Reluctant Debutante (1958) with Rex Harrison and Sandra Dee. In the next five years, he worked steadily, including supporting roles in John Huston's The Unforgiven (1960), the James Stewart comedy Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962) and Otto Preminger's The Cardinal (1963) while having first billing in the B-movies Cry Tough (1959) and War Hunt (1962). Fluent in Italian, he made his first pictures in Italy in the period, Agostino (1962) and Mario Bava's The Evil Eye (1963). Despite his good work with major directors, he failed to succeed as a star.

By 1965, he was appearing in the likes of Blood Beast from Outer Space (1965), albeit, top-billed. A more emblematic picture was Sidney J. Furie's The Appaloosa (1966), in which he appeared in Mexican bandito drag as the man who steals the horse of Marlon Brando, another Stella Adler student. Saxon would reprise the role, of sorts, in John Sturges Joe Kidd (1972) in support of superstar Clint Eastwood. In those less politically correct times, many an Italian-American with a dark complexion would be relied on to play Mexicans, Native Americans and other "exotic" types like Mongols. Saxon played everything from an Indian chief on Bonanza (1959) to Marco Polo on The Time Tunnel (1966).

From 1969 to 1972 season, he was a star of the television series The Bold Ones: The New Doctors (1969), playing the brilliant surgeon Theodore Stuart. When the series ended, he took one of his most famous roles when Bruce Lee demurred over casting Rod Taylor as he was too tall. A black belt in karate, Saxon appeared as Roper in Enter the Dragon (1973). He continued to play a wide variety of roles on television and in motion pictures, with key roles in 1974's classic slasher Black Christmas (1974), 1984's groundbreaking A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), and the 1990s self-referential horror films New Nightmare (1994) and From Dusk Till Dawn (1996).

John Saxon died of pneumonia on July 25, 2020, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He was 83.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jon C. Hopwood

Family (3)

Spouse Gloria Martel (29 August 2008 - 25 July 2020)  (his death)
Elizabeth Saxon (14 June 1987 - 12 September 1992)  (divorced)
Mary Ann Saxon (14 January 1967 - 27 December 1979)  (divorced)  (1 child)
Children Saxon, Antonio
Parents Orrico, Antonio
Orrico, Anna

Trade Mark (4)

Intense dark stare.
Often played heroic bad guys.
Played evil characters to ruthless perfection.
Pristine rows of sparkling white teeth.

Trivia (23)

Was a celebrity player (along with Betty White) on the final week of the cult-classic game show Whew! (1979) (when the show was known as "Celebrity Whew!").
Was discovered by Henry Willson who saw him in a posed shot on the cover of True Romances magazine.
Had a black belt in karate.
Had one son with his former wife Mary Ann Saxon: Antonio Saxon.
Was fluent in Italian. He worked on and off in that country since the early 1960s.
He was the son of Anna (Protettore), an Italian immigrant, and Antonio Orrico, who was born in New York, to Italian parents. John had roots in Calabria.
Attended and graduated from New Utrecht High School in Brooklyn, New York in 1953.
Attended the Williamsburg Film Festival in Williamsburg, Virginia. [March 2012]
He starred in two films about Genghis Khan: Gengis Khan (1992) and Genghis Khan: The Story of a Lifetime (2010).
He starred in four films which feature the word "Blood": Blood Beast from Outer Space (1965), Queen of Blood (1966), Blood Beach (1980) and Blood Salvage (1990).
Acting mentor and friend of Heather Langenkamp.
He was a lifelong liberal Democrat.
Alumnus of Stella Adler Studio of Acting.
He was proficient in archery due to his job during high school working at a Coney Island archery concession as a spieler.
One day when he was cutting class he was discovered by a male model agent while leaving the local movie house. He went on to model for magazine covers like True Romances which led to his Hollywood career.
Studied dramatics for six months with Betty Cashman at Carnegie Hall before he flew to Hollywood where he was quickly signed by Universal and attended the studio's workshop for 18 months.
Upon his death, he was cremated and his ashes returned to his family.
According to his partner and his son, Saxon was 83 at the time of his death, which confirms that he was born in 1936, not the widely quoted 1935.
Co-starred with Sandra Dee in three films: The Restless Years (1958), The Reluctant Debutante (1958), and Portrait in Black (1960). In 1991, they co-starred in the play "Love Letters".
Had a grandson as well as a great-grandchild.
Was often the "Special Guest Star" in many pilots for new TV series, including Kung Fu, Cimarron Strip, Scarecrow & Mrs King, It Takes a Thief, and more. In addition, he would often reappear multiple times as different characters in one same series, such as The Six Million Dollar Man and Bonanza.
His ashes are buried at Lake View Cemetery in Seattle near Bruce Lee and Brandon Lee.
He has appeared in three films that have been selected for the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant: A Star Is Born (1954), Enter the Dragon (1973) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).

Personal Quotes (1)

[on Sandra Dee] I think I quickly perceived that Sandra was also a fish out of water in this respect. She had been a model in New York, I discovered. But I could sense that she was young. She clearly had a facility about acting; she had a great knack, a technique of acting. She knew timing. She knew changes. She knew where all the points were, but now I have a feeling that she actually didn't know where they were in a sense. She assumed. What I think is that both of us were making an approximation of what it was all about, this American boy and girl next door. In some respects, we shared something. It was an uncanny sense of what was desired of us more than what we really understood.

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