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John Anderson
Anderson in The Virginian in the 1960s
Born John Robert Anderson
(1922-10-20)October 20, 1922
Clayton, Illinois, U.S.
Died August 7, 1992(1992-08-07) (aged 69)
Sherman Oaks, California, U.S.
Cause of death Heart attack
Occupation Actor, film director
Years active 1950-1992

John Robert Anderson (October 20, 1922 – August 7, 1992) was an American character actor.

Life and career

Anderson was born and raised in Quincy, Illinois. Anderson served in the United States Coast Guard during World War II, where he met artist Orazio Fumagalli,[1] who became his lifelong friend. Anderson held a Master's Degree in drama from the University of Iowa.[2]

An accomplished actor, Anderson started out on Broadway, including an appearance in the musical Paint Your Wagon in 1951.[3] He later worked primarily in film and television.

Standing 6 ft 5½ in tall (197 cm), he bore a strong resemblance to U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, whom he portrayed three times. He appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) as "California Charlie", the used car salesman who helps Marion Crane (Janet Leigh). On television, he appeared in such series as Gunsmoke, The Rifleman, Laramie, Have Gun – Will Travel, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Virginian, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, The Californians, Johnny Ringo, Trackdown, The Big Valley, Emergency!, and Outlaws.[4][5]

Anderson appeared in The Rat Patrol (four times, three as the same character). He made three guest appearances on Perry Mason, including in the role of defendant George Andrews in the 1959 episode "The Case of the Calendar Girl" and as murderer Dan O'Malley in the 1963 episode "The Case of the Greek Goddess". He also appeared in Overland Trail, The Tall Man, and The Legend of Jesse James. He played an eccentric farmer who jealously guarded his prize watermelon with a shotgun in "For the Love of Willadean: A Taste of Melon", part of Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color.[6]

Anderson had a recurring role in MacGyver as Harry Jackson, MacGyver's grandfather. Other credits include: Man Without a Gun, Hawaii Five-O, M*A*S*H, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, Once an Eagle, Rich Man, Poor Man Book II, Backstairs at the White House, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Dallas. A recurring Twilight Zone actor, he appeared in four different episodes: "The Old Man in the Cave", "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville", "The Odyssey of Flight 33", and "A Passage for Trumpet".[7] He was also The Interrogator on an episode of The Outer Limits titled "Nightmare".


Anderson suffered a fatal heart attack at his home in Sherman Oaks, California. He was survived by two children, seven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and two sisters.[2] He was cremated and his ashes were taken out to sea as part of his membership in the Neptune Society.[8]

Body of work

Partial filmography

  • The Eddie Cantor Story (1953) as Bobby (uncredited)
  • Target Zero (1955) as Undetermined Role (uncredited)
  • Perry Mason (1957) as George Andrews
  • The True Story of Lynn Stuart (1958) as Doc (uncredited)
  • The Californian (1958, three episodes) as Reed Bullard / Slater / The Deacon
  • Last Train from Gun Hill (1959) as Salesman in Horseshoe (uncredited)
  • Psycho (1960) as California Charlie
  • The Twilight Zone (1960)
  • Le olimpiadi dei mariti (1960)
  • The Wackiest Ship in the Army (1960) as Sailor (uncredited)
  • The Rifleman (1961) as Will Temple
  • Walk on the Wild Side (1962) as Preacher
  • Geronimo (1962) as Jeremiah Burns
  • Ride the High Country (1962) as Elder Hammond
  • Perry Mason" (1963) as Dan O'Malley
  • The Outer Limits (1963) as Ebonite Interrogator
  • The Satan Bug (1965) as Agent Reagan
  • The Hallelujah Trail (1965) as Sgt. Buell
  • Namu, the Killer Whale (1966) as Joe Clausen
  • The Fortune Cookie (1966) as Abraham Lincoln (uncredited)
  • A Covenant with Death (1967) as Dietrich
  • Welcome to Hard Times (1967) as Ezra Maple / Isaac Maple
  • Day of the Evil Gun (1968) as Captain Jefferson Addis
  • A Man Called Gannon (1968) as Capper
  • 5 Card Stud (1968) as Marshal Dana
  • Massacre Harbor (1968) as Maj. Indrus
  • Heaven with a Gun (1969) as Asa Beck
  • The Great Bank Robbery (1969) as Mayor Kincaid
  • Young Billy Young (1969) as Boone
  • The Animals (1970) as Sheriff Allan Pierce
  • Cotton Comes to Harlem (1970) as Capt. Bryce
  • Soldier Blue (1970) as Col. Iverson
  • Man and Boy (1971) as Stretch
  • Bearcats! - "Man in a Cage" (1971) as Judge Juan O'Brian
  • The Stepmother (1972) as Inspector Darnezi
  • Molly and Lawless John (1972) as Sheriff Marvin Parker
  • Counselor at Crime (1973) as Don Vito Albanese
  • Executive Action (1973) as Halliday
  • Heatwave! (1974) as Toler
  • The Dove (1974) as Mike Turk
  • The Specialist (1975) as Pike Smith
  • Landfall (1975) as John
  • Rich Man, Poor Man Book II (mini-series) (1976) as Scotty
  • The Rockford Files - "Coulter City Wildcat" (1976) as Gerald A. O'Malley
  • Once an Eagle (mini-series) (1976) as George Varney
  • The Lincoln Conspiracy (1977) as Abraham Lincoln
  • The Last Hurrah (1977) as Amos Force
  • Backstairs at the White House (mini-series) (1979) as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  • Out of the Blue (1980) as T.V. Interviewer
  • Smokey and the Bandit II (1980) as Governor
  • Zoot Suit (1981) as Judge F.W. Charles
  • The American Adventure (1982) as Mark Twain / Franklin D. Roosevelt (voice)
  • Carry Me Back (1982) as Geoff
  • Voyagers! - "The Day the Rebs Took Lincoln" (1982) - as Abraham Lincoln
  • North and South (mini-series) (1985) as William Hazard
  • Amerasia (1986)
  • Never Too Young to Die (1986) as Arliss
  • Scorpion (1986) as Joel / Noel G. Koch
  • Eight Men Out (1988) as Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis
  • Deadly Innocents (1989) as Gus
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation - "The Survivors" (1989) as Kevin Uxbridge
  • In Broad Daylight (television movie) (1991) as Wes Westerman


  1. "Orazio Fumagalli",; accessed May 15, 2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "John Anderson Dies; Character Actor, 69", New York Times, August 10, 1992
  3. John Anderson at Internet Broadway Database
  4. "Zane Grey Theatre: "Rebel Ranger", December 3, 1959". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved September 20, 2012. 
  5. "Laramie: "The Violent Ones", March 5, 1963". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved October 2, 2012. 
  6. For the Love of Willadean: A Taste of Melon Poster,; accessed May 15, 2015.
  7. "A Passage for Trumpet",; accessed May 15, 2015.
  8. John Anderson biography at Internet Movie Database

External links

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