14 November 2015

Imported from the USA: John Saxon

American actor John Saxon (1935) worked on over 200 film and TV projects during the span of seven decades. Saxon appeared in many Italian films, mainly in Spaghetti Westerns.

John Saxon
Yugoslavian postcard by Izrada Nas Glas, Smederevo, no. 163.

John Saxon
Yugoslavian postcard by IZK, no. 2181.

Running Wild

John Saxon was born Carmine Orrico in Brooklyn, New York, in 1935. He is the son of immigrants from Calabria, Italy.

He studied acting with famous acting coach Stella Adler. Wikipedia: "According to Robert Hofler's 2005 biography, The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson, agent Willson saw Saxon's picture on the cover of a detective magazine and immediately contacted the boy's family in Brooklyn. He brought the 18-year-old Orrico to Hollywood and renamed him Saxon."

He started his Hollywood career as a juvenile delinquent in Running Wild (Abner Biberman, 1955) starring Mamie van Doren.

Thanks to 'hunk' assignments in films like Summer Love (Charles F. Haas, 1958), The Restless Years (Helmut Käutner 1958), and The Reluctant Debutante (Vincente Minnelli, 1958), Saxon was briefly the object of many a teenage crush.

Although he worked in these years with many notable directors including Blake Edwards, John Huston, Frank Borzage, and Otto Preminger, he never developed into a major star.

John Saxon
Austrian postcard by Bild und Ton, Wien, no. 503.

John Saxon
Dutch postcard by Int. Filmpers, Amsterdam, no. 1121.

John Saxon
Italian postcard by Bromofoto, Milano, no. 1348. Photo: Universal International.

A Nightmare on Elm Street

John Saxon is now best known for his work in Westerns like Joe Kidd (John Sturges, 1972) starring Clint Eastwood, and horror films, such as the Italian giallo film, La ragazza che sapeva troppo/The Girl Who Knew Too Much (Mario Bava, 1963) with Leticia Roman, and Queen of Blood (Curtis Harrington, 1966) with Basil Rathbone and Dennis Hopper.

Saxon appeared in many Italian films, mainly in Spaghetti Westerns like I tre che sconvolsero il West (Vado, vedo e sparo)/One Dollar Too Many (Enzo G. Castellari, 1968) and such police thrillers as Napoli violenta/Violent Naples (Umberto Lenzi, 1976).

He also co-starred with Bruce Lee and Jim Kelly in the classic Hong Kong martial arts action film Enter the Dragon (Robert Clouse, 1973). Another classic genre film is Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) in which he played the heroine's (Nancy Thompson's) father.

Hal Erickson at AllMovie: "Fans could watch Saxon's expertise as an actor increase (and his hairline recede) during his three-year (1969-1972) stint as Dr. Ted Stuart on the NBC television series The Bold Ones. He later appeared as a semiregular on the prime-time TV soaper Dallas. In 1988, John Saxon made his directorial debut with the low-budget feature Death House."

Hopefully, Saxon can be seen soon as a Bounty Hunter in a new Western by Enzo G. Castellari, Keoma Rises, which is announced at IMDb. It has an all-star cast including Bud SpencerTomas Milian, Fabio Testi, George Hilton, and Franco Nero as Keoma.

John Saxon was married twice. He has one son, Antonio Saxon, with his former wife Mary Ann Saxon. His current wife is Gloria Martel.

Scene from Rock Pretty Baby! (1956). Source: TaylorHamKid (YouTube).

Italian trailer I tre che sconvolsero il West (Vado, vedo e sparo)/One Dollar Too Many (1968). Source: neverlando74 (YouTube).

Sources: Hal Erickson (AllMovie), Jon C. Hopwood (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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