John Dehner

John Dehner

actor, animation department, soundtrack

He had one of Hollywood's most distinctive faces and a stentorian baritone voice to match. Character actor John Dehner, was born John Forkum in Staten Island, New York, the son of a globe-trotting artist. He attended school in France and Norway, in the process learning to speak four languages fluently. Back in the U.S., he graduated from high school in New York and proceeded to study for a diploma in art at the University of California. Any plans he might have had of following in his father's footsteps were derailed, however, when the acting bug suddenly took hold. In short order, the cash-strapped Dehner relocated to sunny California in search of a job. He worked for a while as a professional pianist and band leader but was then able to finagle a position as an assistant animator with Disney Studios for a salary of $18 a week. Dehner had a hand in several classic feature sequences, including Fantasia (1940) and Bambi (1942), as well as a few Donald Duck and Pluto cartoons. He returned to Disney in later years as a narrator and also played the part of Viceroy Don Esteban in an episode of the TV series Zorro (1957).After leaving the Disney art department, Dehner did a stint as a public relations officer in the army during World War II and then returned to California as a radio announcer and news editor for stations KMBC and KFWB. In the course of many years, Dehner amassed a remarkable series of radio acting credits, most notably starring as Paladin in "Have Gun - Will Travel" and in similarly popular action programmers like "Gunsmoke" and "Fort Laramie" (this, in spite of turning down several offers to play Marshall Matt Dillon on TV because he did not want to be typecast in westerns!). In films from the mid-40s, Dehner served a lengthy apprenticeship in assorted bit parts before graduating as one of Hollywood's most reliable villains, be they suave gamblers, crooked bankers, grifters or gunslingers. Just as often, his authoritarian demeanour proved perfect casting for stern fathers, military brass or cops. In Le gaucher (1958), Dehner received second billing as Pat Garrett, co-starring opposite Paul Newman's Billy the Kid. On the small screen, he invariably made an impact as guest star in myriad classic TV shows, including Yancy Derringer (1958), Tales of Wells Fargo (1957), The Roaring 20's (1960), Maverick (1957), Bronco (1958), 77 Sunset Strip (1958), Rawhide (1959) and Doris comédie (1968) (a regular part during seasons four and five, as Doris's editor Cy Bennett). Dehner appeared in three episodes of La quatrième dimension (1959), reserving one of his best performances (displaying a wonderfully dry comic talent) as the titular huckster in late 1800s Arizona, in the episode "Mr. Garrity and the Graves" (1963).One of Hollywood's most hard-working character actors, John Dehner died in Santa Barbara, California, on February 4 at the age of 76.

  • Birthday

    Nov 23, 1915
  • Place of Birth

    Richmond [now Staten Island], New York City, New York, USA

Known For

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