John Doucette

John Arthur Doucette (January 21, 1921 – August 16, 1994) was an American character actor who performed in more than 280 film and television productions between 1941 and 1987. A man of stocky build who possessed a deep, rich voice, he proved equally adept at portraying characters in Shakespearean plays as well as in Westerns and in modern crime dramas. He is perhaps best remembered, however, for his villainous roles as a movie and television "tough guy".

John A. Doucette
Screenshot of Doucette from a
trailer for 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, 1964
Born(1921-01-21)January 21, 1921
DiedAugust 16, 1994(1994-08-16) (aged 73)
Resting placeMausoleum at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California
Years active1941–1987
Spouse(s)Katherine Cecilia Sambles (1948–1991, her death)[1]
ChildrenFive daughters and three sons[2]

Early years

John Doucette was born in Brockton, Massachusetts, the eldest of three children of Nellie S. (née Bishop) and Arthur J. Doucette.[3][4][5] During his childhood, his family moved frequently as his father sought work during the Great Depression. He completed grammar school in Haverhill, Massachusetts; graduated from Lincoln High School in Los Angeles, California; and later, in April 1943, he enlisted in the United States Army and served in Europe as an infantry rifleman during World War II.[6][7][8] With regard to Doucette's early experience and training as an actor, he began to perform on stage at the age of 15 in plays at his high school.[2] He subsequently performed at the Pasadena Playhouse before being cast in Hollywood films in the early 1940s.[9]

Film career

Doucette's film debut, in an uncredited role as a reporter, in Footsteps in the Dark in 1941.[10] He appeared uncredited in at least two other movies before his budding film career was interrupted by his military service during World War II. Following his discharge, he resumed acting in Hollywood, where he soon began to receive more substantial, credited roles in releases by smaller production companies, such as The Burning Cross and The Road to the Big House for Somerset Pictures Corporation in 1947.[10] Doucette continued to progress in obtaining dramatic roles for larger studios, including a small part as an architect in The Fountainhead in 1949 and in the 1970 epic Patton when he portrays 3rd Infantry Division Commander Major General Lucian K. Truscott. His other notable performances include bit parts in High Noon, The Robe, Sierra, and the mega-budget Cleopatra. More familiarly, Doucette also appears in the John Wayne films The Sea Chase, The Sons of Katie Elder, True Grit, and Big Jake.


Many baby boomers first saw Doucette as the bad guy on television in several episodes of The Lone Ranger. Performing as an outlaw proved to be a natural role for him, considering his rough looks, commanding presence, and skill with a gun. He was considered by many to be among the fastest draws in Hollywood. His roles, however, went well beyond that stereotype. He appeared on a variety of television shows, including The Time Tunnel, Racket Squad, The Range Rider, The Roy Rogers Show, The Fugitive, The Adventures of Kit Carson, The Cisco Kid, City Detective, Annie Oakley, The Joseph Cotten Show: On Trial, My Friend Flicka, Sky King, The Californians, Broken Arrow, The People's Choice, Sheriff of Cochise, Behind Closed Doors, The Texan, Lawman, The Everglades, Mackenzie's Raiders, Bonanza, The Wild Wild West, The Virginian, Have Gun - Will Travel, Kung Fu, The Rat Patrol, Hogan's Heroes, Adventures of Superman, Sea Hunt, Science Fiction Theatre, Walt Disney Presents, and Tales of Wells Fargo.

Doucette portrayed police Lieutenant Tom Gregory on the television version of Big Town.[11] Between 1959-1961, he also played police Lieutenant Weston on the series Lock-Up, the character Aaron William Andrews in the comedy The Partners, and the bounty hunter Lou Gore in the episode "Dead Aim" on the series Colt .45[12]

Doucette was cast on television as the Apache Chief Geronimo: for the 1958 episode "Geronimo" on the Western series Tombstone Territory. He was also cast in 1961 as Captain Cardiff in The Americans, a 17-episode NBC series, starring Darryl Hickman, about how the American Civil War divided families.

Personal life and death

John Doucette in 1948 married opera singer Katherine Sambles, with whom he had eight children.[7][6] Katherine died in 1991; and three years later, on August 16, 1994, John died at age 73 at his home in Banning, California.[5] His mausoleum is at Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, California.

Selected filmography




  2. "John Doucette, Film Actor, 73", obituary, The New York Times, August 20, 1994. Retrieved November 6, 2017.
  3. "Fifteenth Census of the United States: 1930", Sharon, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, May 1930. Digital copy of original U.S. Census enumeration page, FamilySearch. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  4. "Sixteenth Census of the United States: 1940", Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, April 5, 1940. FamilySearch. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  5. "California Death Index, 1940-1997" database, California Department of Public Health Services, Sacramento, California. FamilySearch. Retrieved Novembef 7, 2017.
  6. Aaker, Everett (2011). Encyclopedia of Early Television Crime Fighters: All Regular Cast Members in American Crime and Mystery Series, 1948–1959. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co. pp. 194–195. ISBN 978-0-7864-6409-8.
  7. "'Sweet Little One' Plays Meanest of TV Characters". The Ottawa Journal. Canada, Ottawa, Ontario. United Press. April 10, 1957. p. 10. Retrieved May 12, 2017 via
  8. "United States World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946," National Archives, College Park, Maryland. FamilySearch. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  9. Landesman, Fred (2004). The John Wayne Filmography. McFarland. p. 335. ISBN 9780786432523. Retrieved 12 May 2017.
  10. "John Doucette", filmography, Internet Movie Database (IMDb), a subsidiary of, Seattle, Washington. Retrieved November 7, 2017.
  11. Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
  12. "Colt .45". Retrieved December 22, 2012.
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