John Beach Litel (December 30, 1892 – February 3, 1972) was an American film and television actor.

John Litel
John Litel Little Miss Thoroughbred trailer (1938).jpg
John Beach Litel

(1892-12-30)December 30, 1892
DiedFebruary 3, 1972(1972-02-03) (aged 79)
Woodland Hills, California, U.S.
Years active1919–1967
Ruth Pichens
(m. 1920; died 1955)

Beatrice West
(m. 1955)

Early lifeEdit

Litel was born in Albany, Wisconsin.[1] During World War I, he enlisted in the French Army and was twice decorated for bravery. Back in the U.S. after the war, Litel enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and began his stage career.


His Broadway credits include Sweet Aloes (1935), Hell Freezes Over (1935), Life's Too Short (1935), Strange Gods (1932), Before Morning (1932), Lilly Turner (1932), Ladies of Creation (1931), Back Seat Drivers (1928), The Half Naked Truth (1926), The Beaten Track (1925), Thoroughbreds (1924), and Irene (1919).[2]

In 1929, he began appearing in films. Part of the "Warner Bros. Stock Company" beginning in the 1930s, he appeared in dozens of Warner Bros. films and was in over 200 films during his entire career. He often played supporting roles such as hard-nosed cops and district attorneys. He was Nancy Drew's (Bonita Granville) attorney father, Carson Drew, in four films in 1938 and 1939. Among his other films are They Drive by Night (1940), Knute Rockne, All American (1940), They Died with Their Boots On (1941), and Scaramouche (1952). His final film role was in Nevada Smith (1966).

In the second season of the Disney series Zorro, he played the governor of California in several episodes. During 1960 and 1961, he was seen as Dan Murchison in nine episodes of the ABC western television series, Stagecoach West, starring Wayne Rogers and Robert Bray.[citation needed]

He appeared in many other series as well, including the role of Captain David Rowland in the episode "Don't Get Tough with a Sailor" on the ABC/Desilu western series The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp starring Hugh O'Brian. In the story line, Rowland, a former captain in the United States Navy, is a wealthy Arizona Territory rancher who operates his own law and private jail near the Mexican border.[citation needed]

He appeared as Mr. Crenshaw in the episode "The Giant Killer" (March 3, 1959) of the ABC/Warner Brothers western series Sugarfoot with Will Hutchins in the title role. In the segment, Patricia Barry plays the recently widowed Doreen Bradley who, with the assistance of Sugarfoot, exposes to a grateful town the corruption and cowardice of Lou Stoner (R. G. Armstrong), a leading candidate for a territorial governorship. Others in the segment are Dorothy Provine, Russ Conway, and child actor Jay North.[citation needed] He also guest starred in two episodes of the TV series Bonanza: in 1959, he appeared in the episode "Enter Mark Twain" as the local Judge Jeremy Clarence Billington, and in 1961 he played the role of Mayor George Goshen in the episode "The Tin Badge".[citation needed]

Litel also appeared as Bob Cummings's boss Mr. Thackery in the TV series The Bob Cummings Show in the early/mid-1950s. Cummings played Robert S. Beanblossom on the show.[citation needed]


Litel died at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles in 1972.[1]

Selected filmographyEdit

Selected televisionEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1955 Du Pont Cavalcade Theater Dr. William D. Silkworth Season 4 Episode 7 "One Day at a Time"
1958 Wanted Dead or Alive Judge George Healy Season , Episode "Sheriff of Red Rock"
1958 The Restless Gun Season 1 finale "Gratitude"
1959 The Restless Gun Mr. Carter Episode "Incident at Bluefield"
1959 Wanted Dead or Alive Asa Morgan Season , Episode "The Corner"
1960 Wanted Dead or Alive Clint Davis Season 2, Episode 30 "The Inheritance"
1961 Have Gun - Will Travel Sheriff John Armstedder Episode "Ben Jalisco"
1961 Bonanza (TV Series) Mayor George Goshen Episode "The Tin Badge"


  1. ^ a b "John Litel Dies". Independent Press-Telegram. February 5, 1972. p. 2. Retrieved December 31, 2017 – via  
  2. ^ "("John Litel" search results)". Playbill Vault. Playbill. Archived from the original on November 25, 2017. Retrieved November 25, 2017.

External linksEdit