Forsythe in 1958
|Born||January 29, 1918|
Penns Grove, New Jersey, U.S.
|Died||April 1, 2010 (aged 92)|
Santa Ynez, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Oak Hill Cemetery, Ballard, California, U.S.|
|Alma mater||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill|
Parker Worthington McCormick
(m. 1939; div. 1943)
Julie (Wagner) Warren
(m. 1943; died 1994)
Nicole Carter (m. 2002)
|Awards||Golden Globe Award (1983, 1984); Golden Apple Award (1984); Soap Opera Digest Award (1984); TV Land Award (2007); Walk of Fame (Television, 1960)|
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. He also appeared as a guest on several talk and variety shows and as a panelist on numerous game shows.
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), and was also the presenter of the 38th Miss Universe Pageant, broadcast on CBS in 1989.
The eldest of three children, Forsythe was born as John, 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.
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. 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. He was a lifelong active Democrat.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
|1943||Northern Pursuit||Corporal||Film debut; Uncredited|
|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|
|1964||Kitten with a Whip||David|
|1966||Madame X||Clay Anderson|
|1967||In Cold Blood||Alvin Dewey|
|1969||Marooned||Olympus / President||Uncredited|
|1969||The Happy Ending||Fred Wilson|
|1978||Goodbye & Amen||The American Ambassador|
|1979||...And Justice for All||Judge Henry T. Fleming|
|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)|
|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|
|2003||Charlie's Angels: Animated Adventures||Charles "Charlie" Townsend (voice)||Episode: "Chapter One: Most Delicious Angels"; uncredited|
|1953||Best Plays||The Farmer Takes a Wife|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to John Forsythe.|
| Miss Universe Host