John Vernon

John Keith Vernon (born Adolphus Raymondus Vernon Agopsowicz; February 24, 1932 – February 1, 2005) was a Canadian actor. He made a career in Hollywood after achieving initial television stardom in Canada. He was best known for playing Dean Wormer in Animal House, his role as the Mayor in Dirty Harry and as Fletcher in The Outlaw Josey Wales.

John Vernon
John Vernon.JPG
Vernon as the Mayor of San Francisco in Dirty Harry, 1971
Adolphus Raymondus Vernon Agopsowicz[1]

(1932-02-24)February 24, 1932
DiedFebruary 1, 2005(2005-02-01) (aged 72)
Westwood, California, United States
EducationBanff School of Fine Arts
Alma materRoyal Academy of Dramatic Arts
Years active1956–2005
Spouse(s)Nancy West (divorced)
ChildrenKate Vernon, Nan Vernon, Chris Vernon

Early lifeEdit

Vernon was born Adolphus Raymondus Vernon Agopsowicz in Zehner, Saskatchewan.[1] He was one of two sons of Adolf Agopsowicz, a grocer, and his wife Eleonore Krückel (also spelled as Kriekle or Kriekel). Both parents' families immigrated to the Edenwold district in the late 19th century from the Austrian crownland and duchy of Bukovina. The Agopsowicz family were part of the community of Armenians in Poland. Vernon was of Armenian, German, and Polish descent.[2][page needed]

From 1935 to 1953 he attended St. Joseph's School and Campion College in Regina, Saskatchewan, where his acting career began under the direction of Rev. Arthur Nelson, S.J. and Mary Ellen Burgess at Regina Little Theatre.[3] Vernon was educated at the Banff School of Fine Arts and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London before becoming a live stage actor for CBC Television's dramatic programs. In 1974, he completed a season at The Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, playing Malvolio.


Early rolesEdit

Vernon made his screen debut in 1956 as the voice of Big Brother in Michael Anderson's film version of George Orwell's 1984 starring Edmond O'Brien. He returned to Canada afterwards and gained film experience appearing on the TV series Tugboat Annie and The Last of the Mohicans.

He made his Broadway debut in 1964 as DeSoto opposite Christopher Plummer and David Carradine in The Royal Hunt of the Sun. During the Golden Age of CBC Drama in the 1960s he co-starred in Edna O'Brien's A Cheap Bunch of Nice Flowers, opposite Colleen Dewhurst, and in Uncle Vanya, opposite William Hutt and Rita Gam. He appeared in the CBC series Wojeck in the late 1960s, playing a crime-fighting medical examiner, but left to further his acting career in the United States.

In 1967, he appeared opposite Lee Marvin in Point Blank. In 1969, he played Cuban revolutionary Rico Parra in Alfred Hitchcock's Cold War-era spy movie Topaz. He appeared on The High Chaparral as the leader of a group of striking Irish Miners (1969) in "No Irish Need Apply". In 1970, he guest-starred in the Hawaii Five-O episode "Force Of Waves" as Cal Anderson, and he appeared in the two-part episode "The Banker" of The Silent Force in 1971. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he made four appearances over five years on the TV series Mission: Impossible as four different lead villains. In 1974, Vernon turned in a supporting performance in Mary Jane Harper Cried Last Night.

In 1971, he played the by-the-book mayor of San Francisco, perpetually frustrated by Clint Eastwood, in the first Dirty Harry movie. He later parodied this role in the premiere episode of Sledge Hammer! and One More Train to Rob. In 1972 he appeared as a villain in the Fear Is the Key. In 1973 he appeared in Charley Varrick. In 1974 he co starred in the film The Black Windmill with Michael Caine and Donald Pleasence. Also in 1974, he appeared in The Questor Tapes. In 1975, he starred in Brannigan, alongside John Wayne and Richard Attenborough. In 1976, he played Fletcher in Eastwood's The Outlaw Josey Wales.


Vernon played Dean Vernon Wormer of fictional Faber College in Animal House (a role that he would reprise in the short-lived television sequel Delta House). He also played Mr. Prindle in Herbie Goes Bananas, Dr. Stone, Ted Striker's psychiatrist, in Airplane II: The Sequel, and Sherman Krader in Ernest Goes to Camp.

In 1979, Vernon played villainous American bigot Jonathon Pritts in New Mexico who was trying to steal the land from Mexican landowners in the Louis L'Amour story of The Sacketts.

He also appeared in several cult exploitation and action films in the 1980s, most notably Chained Heat and Savage Streets, both starring Linda Blair, and Jungle Warriors, opposite Sybil Danning. He made light of his villain image (playing a character called "Mr. Big") in the 1988 Blaxploitation spoof I'm Gonna Git You Sucka: a character thinks Vernon should be "above exploitation films" and Vernon replies that lots of famous actors have done exploitation films, listing Jamie Lee Curtis, Angie Dickinson, and Shelley Winters as examples.

Vernon played "Ted Jarrett" in the season two The A-Team episode "Labor Pains" (1983). Vernon also played "Cameron Zachary" in the season two Knight Rider episode "A Good Knight's Work" (1984). Vernon later played "John Bradford Horn" in the season three Airwolf episode "Discovery" (1986). In 1986, he played the Principal in Fuzz Bucket. He played Sergeant Curt Mooney in Killer Klowns from Outer Space and was a lead in the short-lived 1990s series Acapulco H.E.A.T. In Charley Varrick (1973), he played a mafia boss.

Vernon guest-starred as the grouchy principal Dinkler in "Brad to Worse", an episode of Duckman on USA Network.

Voice workEdit

Vernon did extensive voice work. He voiced the Prosecutor on the animated film Heavy Metal. He worked on such animated TV series as The Marvel Super Heroes portraying Tony Stark/Iron Man and Sub-Mariner among others, Batman: The Animated Series, The Incredible Hulk, Wildfire, Spider-Man, The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy and Delgo.

Personal lifeEdit

Vernon was the father of actresses Kate and Nan Vernon, and son, actor Chris Vernon.[1]


Vernon died of complications following heart surgery on February 1, 2005, in Westwood, California, only 23 days shy of his 73rd birthday. He was cremated after a private funeral service.[1]

Selected filmographyEdit


List of voice performances in films
Year Title Role Notes
1981 Heavy Metal Prosecutor segment "Captain Sternn"
2003 Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman Rupert Thorne Direct-to-video
2008 Delgo Nohrin Judge (final film role)
List of voice performances in television
Year Title Role Notes
1966 The Marvel Super Heroes Iron Man/Tony Stark /[4]/ Sub-Mariner/Prince Namor,[4] /Major Glenn Talbot / Major Corey
1986 Wildfire Wildfire 13 Episodes
1992-1994 Batman: The Animated Series Rupert Thorne 9 Episodes
1994 Fantastic Four Doctor Doom Episodes: "The Mask of Doom: Part 1"
1995 Pinky and the Brain Admiral Episode: "Das Mouse"
1996 Mortal Kombat: Defenders of the Realm Shao Kahn 3 Episodes
1996 Spider-Man Doctor Strange Episode: "Doctor Strange"
1994 Duckman Principal Dinkler Episode: "From Brad to Worse"
1996-1997 The Incredible Hulk General Ross 14 Episodes
1998 Pinky, Elmyra & the Brain Principal Episode: "Gee, Your Hair Spells Terrific"
2000 Pigs Next Door Grand Porcinus Uncredited, Episode: "Hog Island"
2003-2005 The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy Warden Toadblatt 3 Episodes
List of voice performances in video games
Year Title Role Notes
1994 The Adventures of Batman & Robin Rupert Thorne
2000 Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 Tesla trooper
2000 Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn Goldander Blackenrock / Baron Ployer
2000 Star Trek: Klingon Academy Academy Communications Officer / Federation Commander 2
2001 Command & Conquer: Yuri's Revenge
2002 Earth & Beyond Proconsul Dionysius Kerr
2004 Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel Rhombus / Glowing Ghoul
2005 Area 51 Additional Voices


  1. ^ a b c d Bernstein, Adam (February 4, 2005). "Actor John Vernon, 72; 'Animal House' Dean". The Washington Post. p. B06. Retrieved April 20, 2013.
  2. ^ Edenwold Anniversary Committee (1981). Where Aspens Whisper: Edenwold. Edenwold: Edenwold Anniversary Committee. ISBN 9780889252523. OCLC 15879980.
  3. ^ Cory Toth - Encyclopedia Of Saskatchewan. "The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan | Details". Archived from the original on 2017-10-17. Retrieved 2017-05-03.
  4. ^ a b

External linksEdit