John Beal (actor)

John Beal (born James Alexander Bliedung, August 13, 1909 April 26, 1997) was an American actor.

John Beal
Beal in the trailer for Madame X
James Alexander Bliedung

(1909-08-13)August 13, 1909
DiedApril 26, 1997(1997-04-26) (aged 87)
OccupationFilm, stage and television actor
Years active19311993
Spouse(s)Helen Craig (19341986) (her death) 2 children

Early years

Beal was born in Joplin, Missouri. His father had a department store and Beal went to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania "mapped for a commercial career."[1] While at Wharton, Beal (who enrolled under his real name, James Alexander Bliedung) spent time drawing cartoons for the school's humor magazine and singing in productions of the Mask and Wig club.[1]


Soon after graduating from college in 1930, Beal began acting with the Hedgerow Theatre. Beal originally went to New York to study art but a chance to understudy in a play made him change his mind. He went on to appear in Russet Mantle and She Loves Me.[1]


Beal began acting in the 1930s, opposite Katharine Hepburn (in the 1934 RKO film The Little Minister),[2] among others; one of his notable screen appearances was as Marius Pontmercy in Les Misérables (1935). He continued appearing in films during the war years while serving in Special Services and the First Motion Picture Unit as actor and director of Army Air Forces camp shows and training films.

Beal had starring roles in the film dramas Alimony (1949) and My Six Convicts (1952).


In the 1950s, Beal also began appearing in various television shows, including the title role of mining engineer Philip Deidesheimer in a 1959 episode of Bonanza, "The Deidesheimer Story".[3]

He was hired to play the role of Jim Matthews in the television soap opera Another World when the show went on the air in 1964, but was fired by creator and headwriter Irna Phillips after only one episode.[4]

He appeared in The Waltons, season 3, episode 13, "The Visitor", first aired in December, 1974. His character was a former neighbor, Mason Beardsley, an elderly man who returned to Waltons Mountain to live with his wife who he was expecting in a few days. The Walton family were excited for him and helped to fix up his home, only to learn that his wife had died a year earlier and, unable to accept this fact, he continued to look for her.

He continued to work in films and television, notably as Judge Vail in the supernatural soap opera Dark Shadows (for 9 episodes), and also the theater up until the 1980s. Beal died at age 87 in Santa Cruz, California,[2] two years after suffering a stroke.

Personal life

Beal was married to actress Helen Craig.[1] They had two daughters, Theodora Emily and Tandy Johanna.[5]


Year Title Role Notes
1933Another LanguageJerry Hallam
1934Hat, Coat and GloveJerry Hutchins
1934The Little MinisterGavin
1935LaddieLaddie Stanton
1935Les MisérablesMarius
1935Break of HeartsJohnny Lawrence
1936M'LissStephen Thorne
1937We Who Are About to DieJohn E. 'Johnny' Thompson
1937The Man Who Found HimselfDr. James Stanton Jr.
1937Border CafeKeith Whitney
1937Madame XRaymond Fleuriot
1937Double WeddingWaldo Beaver
1937Danger PatrolDan Loring
1937Beg, Borrow or StealCount Bill Cherau
1938Port of Seven SeasMarius
1938I Am the LawPaul Ferguson
1938The Arkansas TravelerJohn 'Johnnie' Daniels
1939The Great CommandmentJoel
1939The Cat and the CanaryFred Blythe
1941Ellery Queen and the Perfect CrimeWalter Matthews
1941Doctors Don't TellDr. Ralph Sawyer
1942One Thrilling NightHorace Jason
1942Atlantic ConvoyCarl Hansen
1942Stand By All NetworksBen Fallon
1943Let's Have FunRichard Gilbert
1943Edge of DarknessJohann Stensgard
1947Key WitnessMilton Higby
1947Messenger of PeacePastor Armin Ritter
1948So Dear to My HeartJeremiah as an Adult - NarratorVoice
1949AlimonyDan Barker
1949Song of SurrenderDubois
1949Chicago DeadlinePaul Jean d'Ur
1952My Six ConvictsDr. Wilson aka Doc
1953Remains to Be SeenDr. Glenson
1954New Facesdirector of sketches
1957The VampireDr. Paul Beecher
1957That Night!Commuter Christopher J. Bowden
1959The Sound and the FuryHoward Compson
1959BonanzaPhilip DiedesheimerEpisode: "The Phillip Diedesheimer Story"
1960Ten Who DaredMaj. John Wesley Powell
1973The BrideFather
1975The Legend of Lizzie BordenDr. BowenTV movie
1976The Adams ChroniclesCharles Francis Adams3 episodes
1983Amityville 3-DHarold Caswell
1993The FirmNathan Locke(final film role)


  1. Francis, Robert (February 17, 1946). "Candid Close-ups". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. New York, Brooklyn. p. 25. Retrieved May 8, 2016 via
  2. "John Beal, 87, Actor In Films and Theater". The New York Times. May 1, 1997. Retrieved October 21, 2010.
  3. "The Deidesheimer Story", Bonanza Booomers
  4. "Serial Shakedown". Gettysburg Times. May 12, 1964. Retrieved October 21, 2010.
  5. Varcados, Marybeth (May 7, 1987). "On stage with 'daddy'". Santa Cruz Sentinel. California, Santa Cruz. p. 21. Retrieved May 8, 2016 via
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