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John Forsythe (January 29, 1918 – April 1, 2010) was an American stage, film/television actor, producer, narrator, drama teacher and philanthropist whose career spanned six decades.[1] He also appeared as a guest on several talk and variety shows and as a panelist on numerous game shows.

John Forsythe
John Forsythe - 1957.jpg
Forsythe in 1958
Born(1918-01-29)January 29, 1918
DiedApril 1, 2010(2010-04-01) (aged 92)
Resting placeOak Hill Cemetery, Ballard, California, U.S.
NationalityAmerican
Alma materUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
OccupationActor
Years active1943–2006
Spouse(s)
Parker Worthington McCormick
(m. 1939; div. 1943)

Julie (Wagner) Warren
(m. 1943; died 1994)

Nicole Carter (m. 2002)
Children3
AwardsGolden Globe Award (1983, 1984); Golden Apple Award (1984); Soap Opera Digest Award (1984); TV Land Award (2007); Walk of Fame (Television, 1960)

His 60-year acting career began in films in 1943. He signed up with Warner Bros. at age 25 as a minor contract player, but he later starred in films like The Captive City (1952). He co-starred opposite Loretta Young in It Happens Every Thursday (1953), Edmund Gwenn and Shirley MacLaine in The Trouble With Harry (1955), and Olivia De Havilland in The Ambassador's Daughter (1956).

Forsythe also enjoyed a successful television career, starring in three television series, spanning four decades and three genres: as the single playboy father Bentley Gregg in the sitcom Bachelor Father (1957–1962), as the unseen millionaire Charles Townsend in the crime drama Charlie's Angels (1976–1981) — a role he would reprise in the 2000 and 2003 film adaptations — and as patriarch Blake Carrington in Dynasty (1981–1989). He hosted the series World of Survival (1971–1977),[1] and was also the presenter of the 38th Miss Universe Pageant, broadcast on CBS in 1989.

Early lifeEdit

The eldest of three children, Forsythe was born as John,[1][2][3] or Jacob, Lincoln Freund (sources differ) on January 29, 1918, in Penns Grove, New Jersey, to Blanche Forsythe (née Blohm) and Samuel Jeremiah Freund. Blanche was born in Georgia, to David Hyat Blohm, a Russian Jewish immigrant, and Mary S. Materson, who herself was born in Maryland, to Jewish emigrants from Prussia. Forysthe's father was a stockbroker, who was born in New York, to Polish Jewish immigrants.[3]

He was raised in Brooklyn, New York, where his father worked as a Wall Street businessman during the Great Depression of the 1930s. He graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn at the age of 16, and began attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.[4] In 1936 at the age of 18, he took a job as the public address announcer for Brooklyn Dodgers games at Ebbets Field, confirming a childhood love of baseball.[1] He was a lifelong active Democrat.[5]

Movie career and Army serviceEdit

 
The handprints of John Forsythe in front of The Great Movie Ride at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park.

Despite showing initial reluctance, Forsythe began an acting career at the suggestion of his father. He met actress Parker Worthington McCormick (December 29, 1918 – July 22, 1980), and the couple married in 1939; they had a son, Dall (born February 14, 1941), and divorced in 1943. As a bit player for Warner Brothers, Forsythe successfully appeared in several small parts.[6]

As a result, he was given a small role in Destination Tokyo (1943). Leaving his movie career for service in the United States Army Air Corps in World War II, he appeared in the U.S. Army Air Corps play and film Winged Victory, then worked with injured soldiers who had developed speech problems.[6]

Also in 1943, Forsythe met Julie Warren, initially a theatre companion, but later a successful actress in her own right, landing a role on Broadway in Around the World. Warren became Forsythe's second wife and in the early 1950s the marriage produced two daughters.

In 1947, Forsythe joined the initial class of the Actors Studio, where he met Marlon Brando and Julie Harris, among others. During this time he appeared on Broadway in Mister Roberts and The Teahouse of the August Moon. In 1955, Alfred Hitchcock cast Forsythe in the movie The Trouble with Harry, with Shirley MacLaine in her first movie appearance, for which she won a Golden Globe. In 1969, Forsythe appeared in another Hitchcock film, Topaz.[7]

Television workEdit

 
With Noreen Corcoran in Bachelor Father (1957–1962)

Throughout the 1950s, Forsythe successfully appeared in the new medium and worked regularly on all the networks, especially as a guest star. For example, during this period, he appeared on the popular anthology Alfred Hitchcock Presents in an episode titled "Premonition" opposite Cloris Leachman. nly to fin

Forsythe was cast in a 1957 episode, "Decision at Wilson's Creek," on the CBS anthology series Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre. He played Confederate Lieutenant David Marr who suddenly resigns to return to his wife, only to find that he is scorned by townspeople.[6] Outdoor location sequences for the episode were shot on the Iverson Movie Ranch in Chatsworth, California, where a number of scenes took place in a group of oak trees that later came to be known as the Midway Oaks. One of those oak trees, a distinctive multi-trunked tree with a characteristic lean, became known as the Forsythe Oak, commemorating John Forsythe's appearance at the fabled movie ranch, considered the most widely filmed outdoor location in movie and television history. The Forsythe Oak remains in place today; it is located on a private estate on the former Upper Iverson.

Bachelor FatherEdit

In 1957, he took a leading role in the situation comedy Bachelor Father for CBS as Bentley Gregg, a playboy lawyer who has to become a father to his niece Kelly (played by Noreen Corcoran), upon the death of her biological parents. The show was an immediate ratings hit and moved to NBC the following season and to ABC in the fall of 1961. On various episodes Forsythe worked with such up-and-coming actresses as Mary Tyler Moore, Barbara Eden, Donna Douglas, Sally Kellerman, Sue Ane Langdon, and a teenage Linda Evans. During the 1961–1962 season, Bachelor Father was cancelled because of declining ratings.

After Bachelor FatherEdit

During the 1960s, Forsythe returned to acting in movies including Kitten with a Whip (1964), Madame X (1966) and In Cold Blood (1967). In 1964 he starred in See How They Run which is notable for being the first film made for television.

He attempted two new television programs: The John Forsythe Show on NBC with Guy Marks, Elsa Lanchester, Ann B. Davis, Peggy Lipton, and Forsythe's two young daughters, Page and Brooke (1965–1966), and To Rome with Love on CBS (1969–1971) with co-star Walter Brennan.[8] Between 1971 and 1977, Forsythe served as narrator on the syndicated nature series, World of Survival. He was also the announcer for Michelob beer commercials during the 1970s and 1980s, notably during the "Weekends were made for Michelob" era.

Charlie's AngelsEdit

Forsythe began a 13-year association with Aaron Spelling in 1976, cast in the role of mysterious unseen millionaire private investigator Charles Townsend in the crime drama Charlie's Angels (1976–1981). The show starred Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith and Farrah Fawcett, making stars of all three but catapulting Fawcett to iconic status. Forsythe introduces the series' concept during its opening credits:

Once upon a time, three little girls went to the police academy, where they were each assigned very hazardous duties. But I took them away from all that, and now they work for me. My name is Charlie.

Forsythe became the highest-paid actor on television on a per-hour basis: while the show's on-camera stars often worked 15-hour days five days a week, with a couple of hours just for hair and makeup, Forsythe's lines for an entire episode would be recorded in a sound studio in a matter of minutes, after which he would have lunch in the network's commissary and then leave for the track. During this period, Forsythe invested much money in Thoroughbred racing, a personal hobby. Gaining respect with the celebrity Thoroughbred circuit, he served on the Board of Directors at the Hollywood Park Racetrack starting in 1972, and was on the committee for more than 25 years.[8]

Following heart problems, Forsythe underwent quadruple coronary artery bypass surgery in 1979. This was so successful that he not only returned to work on Charlie's Angels, he also appeared in the two-time Academy Award-nominated motion picture ...And Justice for All later that year as Judge Henry T. Fleming, the film's main antagonist, a corrupt judge who despises Al Pacino's lawyer character.[citation needed]

DynastyEdit

In 1981, nearing the end of Charlie's Angels, Forsythe was selected as a last-minute replacement for George Peppard in the role of conniving patriarch Blake Carrington in Dynasty.[9] Another Spelling production, Dynasty was ABC's answer to the highly successful CBS series Dallas. Between 1985 and 1986, Forsythe also appeared as Blake Carrington in the short-lived spinoff series The Colbys.

The series reunited Forsythe with one-time Bachelor Father guest star Linda Evans, who would play Blake's wife, Krystle. During the run of the series, Forsythe, Evans and co-star Joan Collins, who played Blake's ex-wife Alexis, promoted the Dynasty line of fragrances. Dynasty came to an end in 1989, after nine seasons. Forsythe was the only actor to appear in all 220 episodes.[citation needed]

Forsythe was nominated for Emmy Awards three times between 1982 and 1984 for "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series" but did not win. He was also nominated six times for Golden Globe Awards, winning twice. He was nominated five times for the Soap Opera Digest Awards, also winning twice.[7]

The Powers That BeEdit

In 1992, after a three-year absence, Forsythe returned to series television starring in Norman Lear's situation comedy, The Powers That Be for NBC, co-starring Holland Taylor, Peter MacNicol, Valerie Mahaffey and David Hyde-Pierce.[6]

Post-1990s work and lifeEdit

Forsythe's wife of 51 years, Julie Warren (October 20, 1919 – August 15, 1994), died at age 74 from cancer in hospital after Forsythe made the decision to disconnect her life-support system. She had been in a coma following severe breathing difficulties.[10][11]

In July 2002, Forsythe married businesswoman Nicole Carter (May 27, 1941 – May 11, 2010) at Ballard Country Church; they remained married until his death. Nicole Carter Forsythe died five weeks after her husband.[12]

Forsythe reprised his role as the voice of Charlie for the film version of Charlie's Angels (2000) and its sequel Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003); he then retired from acting.

Besides spending time with his family, he enjoyed ownership of an art gallery. In 2005 actor Bartholomew John portrayed Forsythe in Dynasty: The Making of a Guilty Pleasure, a fictionalized television movie based on the creation and behind the scenes production of Dynasty.[13]

On May 2, 2006, Forsythe appeared with Dynasty co-stars Linda Evans, Joan Collins, Pamela Sue Martin, Al Corley, Gordon Thomson and Catherine Oxenberg in Dynasty Reunion: Catfights & Caviar. The one-hour reunion special of the former ABC series aired on CBS. Forsythe appeared each year to read to children during the annual Christmas program near his home at the rural resort community of Solvang, California.[14]

Forsythe was treated for colorectal cancer in the fall of 2006.[15] Surgery was reportedly successful and his cancer was considered to be in remission at the time of his death.[16]

DeathEdit

Forsythe died on April 1, 2010, from pneumonia in Santa Ynez, California.[1][6][8] He was interred at Oak Hill Cemetery, Ballard, Santa Barbara County, California.

Thoroughbred racingEdit

Forsythe owned and bred Thoroughbred racehorses for many years and was a member of the Board of Directors of Hollywood Park Racetrack. Among his successes, in partnership with film producer Martin Ritt he won the 1976 Longacres Mile with Yu Wipi.[17]

With partner Ken Opstein, he won the 1982 Sixty Sails Handicap with Targa, and the 1993 La Brea Stakes with a daughter of Targa, Mamselle Bebette, which he raced under the name of his Big Train Farm, a stable he named for Hall of Fame baseball pitcher, Walter Johnson,[18]

In the 1980s, Forsythe served as the regular host for the annual Eclipse Awards. He was the recipient of the 1988 Eclipse Award of Merit for his contribution in promoting the sport of Thoroughbred racing.[19]

FilmographyEdit

FilmsEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1943 Northern Pursuit Corporal Film debut; Uncredited
1943 Destination Tokyo Sparks
1949 Arson, Inc. Race Track Announcer Voice, Uncredited
1952 The Captive City Jim Austin
1953 It Happens Every Thursday Bob MacAvoy
1953 The Glass Web Don Newell
1953 Escape from Fort Bravo Capt. John Marsh
1955 The Trouble with Harry Sam Marlowe
1956 The Ambassador's Daughter Sgt. Danny Sullivan
1956 Everything but the Truth Ernie Miller
1959 Dubrowsky Wladia
1964 Kitten with a Whip David
1966 Madame X Clay Anderson
1967 In Cold Blood Alvin Dewey
1969 Marooned Olympus / President Uncredited
1969 Topaz Michael Nordstrom
1969 The Happy Ending Fred Wilson
1978 Goodbye & Amen The American Ambassador
1979 ...And Justice for All Judge Henry T. Fleming
1988 Scrooged Lew Hayward
1992 Stan and George's New Life Father
1999 We Wish You a Merry Christmas Mr. Ryan Voice, Direct-to-video
2000 Charlie's Angels Charles "Charlie" Townsend Voice
2003 Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle Voice, (final film role)

TelevisionEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1948 Stage Door Keith Burgess TV movie
1948 Kraft Television Theatre TV series; 2 episodes
1948 Actors Studio TV series; "The Widow of Wasdale Head"
1949 NBC Presents TV series; "Just for Tonight"
1949-1955 Studio One in Hollywood Various TV series; 10 episodes
1951 The Ford Theatre Hour Peter Flint TV series; "The Golden Mouth"
1951 Robert Montgomery Presents Dr. Frederick Steele TV series; "Dark Victory"
1951 Starlight Theatre TV series; 2 episodes
1951 Cosmopolitan Theatre TV series; "Time to Kill"
1951-1952 Lights Out Various TV series; 3 episodes
1951-1952 Suspense Various TV series; 5 episodes
1951-1952 Danger TV series; 2 episodes
1951-1958 Schlitz Playhouse of Stars Various TV series; 5 episodes
1952 Pulitzer Prize Playhouse TV series; 2 episodes
1952 Curtain Call TV series; "The Season of Divorce"
1952 The Philco Television Playhouse TV series; 2 episodes
1954 The United States Steel Hour Prof. Gilbert Jardine TV series; "King's Pawn"
1955 The Elgin Hour George Conway TV series; "Driftwood"
1955 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Kim Stanger TV series; "Premonition"
1955-1958 Climax! Various TV series; 5 episodes
1956 Playwrights '56 Joe Neville TV series; "Return to Cassino"
1956 Star Stage TV series; "A Place to be Alone"
1956 Goodyear Television Playhouse Lt. John Stahlman TV series; "Stardust II"
1957 Zane Grey Theatre CSA Lt. David Marr TV series; "Decision at Wilson Creek"
1957 General Electric Theater Bentley Gregg TV series; "New Girl in His Life"
1957-1962 Bachelor Father Bentley Gregg TV series; 157 episodes
1958 The Major and the Minor TV movie
1959 Lux Playhouse Colonel Bill Adams TV series; "The Miss and Missiles"
1959 Sunday Showcase Al Manheim TV series; 2 episodes
1962 The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Michael Barnes TV series; "I Saw The Whole Thing"
1963 Alcoa Premiere Andy Ballard TV series; "Five, Six, Pick Up Sticks"
1963 The Dick Powell Show Peter Kent TV series; "The Third Side of a Coin"
1963 Kraft Mystery Theater TV series; "Go Look at the Roses"
1964 See How They Run Martin Young TV movie
1964 Kraft Suspense Theatre TV series; 2 episodes
1965 Theatre of Stars Charlie King TV series; "In Any Language"
1965-1966 The John Forsythe Show Major John Foster TV series; 29 episodes
1966 Insight Ray TV series; 2 episodes
1967 Run for Your Life Spencer Holt TV series; "A Choice of Evils"
1967 The Red Skelton Show Millionaire's Son TV series; "A New York Stripper Is Not Always a Steak"
1967 A Bell for Adano Maj. Victor Joppola TV movie
1968 Shadow on the Land Gen. Wendell Bruce TV movie
1969-1971 To Rome with Love Michael Endicott TV series; 48 episodes
1971 Murder Once Removed Dr. Ron Wellesley TV movie
1973 The Letters Paul Anderson Unsold pilot
1973 Lisa, Bright and Dark William Schilling TV movie
1974 Cry Panic David Ryder TV movie
1974 Police Story Sam McCullough TV series; "Chief"
1974 The Healers Dr. Robert Kier TV movie
1974 Terror on the 40th Floor Daniel 'Dan' Overland TV movie
1975 The Deadly Tower Lt. Elwood Forbes TV movie
1975 Medical Story Amos Winkler TV series; "Million Dollar Baby"
1976 Amelia Earhart G.P. Putnam Miniseries
1976-1981 Charlie's Angels Charles "Charlie" Townsend (voice) TV series; 109 episodes
1977 Tail Gunner Joe Paul Cunningham TV movie
1977 Emily, Emily Niles Putnam TV movie
1977 The Feather and Father Gang E.J. Valerian TV series; "Never Con a Killer" (Pilot)
1978 Cruise Into Terror Reverend Charles Mather TV movie
1978 With This Ring General Albert Harris TV movie
1978 The Users Reade Jamieson TV movie
1980 A Time for Miracles Postulator TV movie
1981 Sizzle Mike Callahan TV movie
1981-1989 Dynasty Blake Carrington TV series; 220 episodes
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Television Series Drama (1983-1984)
Soap Opera Digest Award: Outstanding Actor in a Mature Role in a Prime Time Soap Opera; Outstanding Actor in a Prime Time Soap Opera (1984)
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Television Series Drama (1982, 1985-1987)
Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (1982-1984)
Nominated — Soap Opera Digest Award: Favorite Super Couple on a Prime Time Serial (with Linda Evans); Outstanding Actor in a Leading Role on a Prime Time Serial (1986)
Nominated — Soap Opera Digest Award: Favorite Super Couple: Prime Time (with Linda Evans) (1988)
1982 Mysterious Two He TV movie
1983 The Love Boat Burt Gardner TV series; 2 episodes
1985-1986 The Colbys Blake Carrington TV series; 4 episodes
1987 On Fire Joe Leary Sr. TV movie
1989 Champions in Kentucky: The Story of the 1988 Breeders' Cup Narrator TV movie
1990 Opposites Attract Rex Roper TV movie
1991 Spirit of a Champion: The Story of the 1990 Breeders' Cup Narrator TV movie
1991 Dynasty: The Reunion Blake Carrington Miniseries; 2 episodes
1992-1993 The Powers That Be Sen. William Franklin Powers TV series; 21 episodes
1996 Adventures from the Book of Virtues Dadelaus (voice) TV series; "Responsibility"
1996 The Goliath Chronicles Pat Doyle (voice) TV series; "Ransom"
2006 Dynasty Reunion: Catfights & Caviar Himself / Blake Carrington TV documentary

WebEdit

Year Title Role Notes
2003 Charlie's Angels: Animated Adventures Charles "Charlie" Townsend (voice) Episode: "Chapter One: Most Delicious Angels"; uncredited[20]

Radio appearancesEdit

Year Program Episode/source
1953 Best Plays The Farmer Takes a Wife[21]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e Bernstein, Adam (April 3, 2010). "John Forsythe dead; starred in 'Dynasty,' 'Bachelor Father'". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  2. ^ Clarke, Joseph F. (1977). Pseudonyms. Hamish Hamilton. p. 65. ISBN 978-0525665670.
  3. ^ a b "John Forsythe Biography (1918-)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved 2017-06-30.
  4. ^ Staff. "Biography for John Forsythe", Turner Classic Movies; retrieved September 23, 2009. "Attending Brooklyn's Abraham Lincoln High School, he came of age, like countless Brooklyn youngsters, a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers and devoted his extracurricular activities to sports."
  5. ^ Mathews, Jay (May 28, 1983). "Democrats Hope to Get $6 Million in Telethon". The Washington Post.
  6. ^ a b c d e Gates, Anita (April 2, 2010). "John Forsythe, 'Dynasty' Actor, Is Dead at 92". The New York Times. Retrieved April 2, 2010.
  7. ^ a b "John Forsythe". The Daily Telegraph. London. April 4, 2010. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c Luther, Claudia (April 3, 2010). "John Forsythe dies at 92; actor known for roles on TV series 'Bachelor Father', 'Charlie's Angels', and 'Dynasty'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  9. ^ Oliver, Myrna (May 10, 1994). "George Peppard, Versatile Actor, Dies at 65". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  10. ^ Bergan, Ronald (April 4, 2010). "John Forsythe obituary". The Guardian. Manchester. Retrieved 2017-06-30.
  11. ^ "RootsWeb: Database Index". ancestry.com. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
  12. ^ "Nicole Carter Forsythe". Los Angeles Times. Legacy.com. May 23, 2010. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  13. ^ "Dynasty: Behind the Scenes: Credits" (in German). Der-denver-clan.de. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  14. ^ Rice, Lynette (May 1, 2006). "Linda Evans reminisces about her Dynasty days". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  15. ^ "Dynasty star treated for cancer". BBC News. October 13, 2006.
  16. ^ Obituaries, Peabodyweb.com; retrieved June 5, 2014. Archived August 24, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ "Yupi Wipi Wins Longacres Mile". Salem Statesman Journal. 23 Aug 1976. p. 15.
  18. ^ Jones, Grahame L. (December 31, 2005). "This Horse Was Fair Game for the 'King'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 3, 2010.
  19. ^ Paulick, Ray (January 26, 2009). "Eclipse memories". ESPN. Retrieved September 2, 2017.
  20. ^ "Charlie's Angels: Animated Adventures Episode 1". YouTube. Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  21. ^ Kirby, Walter (June 28, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 44. Retrieved July 1, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.  

External linksEdit