John Hamilton (actor)

John Rummel Hamilton (January 16, 1887 – October 15, 1958) was an American actor, who played in many movies and television programs. He is probably remembered best for his role as the blustery newspaper editor Perry White in the 1950s television program Adventures of Superman.

For the American actor of 1893–1967, see John F. Hamilton.

John Hamilton
John Rummel Hamilton

(1887-01-16)January 16, 1887
DiedOctober 15, 1958(1958-10-15) (aged 71)
Years active1930–1958
Known forFictional character Perry White in Adventures of Superman (1952–1958)
Spouse(s)Elizabeth J. Greenhow
(m. 19??; div. 19??)


John Hamilton was born in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania to John M. Hamilton and his wife Cornelia J. (Hollar) Hamilton. Hamilton was the youngest of four children, and his mother died eight days after his birth. His father remarried and Rosa, his stepmother, was the only mother the young Hamilton knew.[1] Hamilton grew up in neighboring Southampton Township Pennsylvania, where his father worked as a store clerk.

Hamilton's father was also appointed Shippensburg's trustee for the State Superintendent of Public Education, so it was a foregone conclusion that Hamilton would receive extensive schooling. Unlike most others of his generation and background (Southampton being a farming community), Hamilton attended college-- Dickinson College and Shippensburg State Teacher's College. However, he opted to forgo teaching for a stage career.

After becoming an actor, he worked in Broadway plays and in touring theatrical companies for many years prior to his 1930 movie debut. He was in the original Broadway company of the 1922 play Seventh Heaven and would appear in the movie remake (Seventh Heaven) in 1937. He featured with Donald Meek in a series of short mysteries based on S.S. Van Dine stories for Warner Bros. He was often typecast in the role of an authority figure; to wit, prison warden, judge, politician or police chief, but played various types of characters, appearing in more than three hundred movies, movie serials or television programs from the 1930s through the 1950s. As an example, he does a brief turn in robes as the judge who passes sentence on soon-to-be-racketeer James Cagney for violation of the Volstead Act in "The Roaring Twenties" (1939). Hamilton appeared as a police inspector in the John Huston film In This Our Life in 1942. Modern-day serial fans can see Hamilton's iconic persona already developing as Professor Gordon, the outwardly no-nonsense but secretly compassionate father of young, man-of-action Flash Gordon in Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940). He became much more widely known when he was cast as the irascible Daily Planet newspaper editor Perry White in the 1950s TV classic Adventures of Superman (1951). After that, he appeared in television commercials for a brand of bifocals termed "Inviso No-Line Glasses". (The idea was to render invisible the seam in the lens "that tells the world you're over forty".)

Hamilton is often confused with John F. Hamilton, an American actor who made a few films, and with John Hamilton, a British actor who played juvenile roles in the UK and Europe in the 1930s.


John Hamilton died on October 15, 1958 in Glendale, California of heart failure at the age of 71. He was survived by a son. He was interred in Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Selected filmography


  1. United States Census records for 1900, Franklin County, Pennsylvania
  2. Great Movie Musicals on DVD - A Classic Movie Fan's Guide by John Howard Reid - Google search with book preview
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