John Kitzmiller

John Kitzmiller (December 4, 1913 – February 23, 1965) was an American actor who worked in his native land, as well as Italy and the United Kingdom. Kitzmiller achieved his greatest fame as a popular and versatile actor in Europe, making an estimated forty European films.[1] He is known for his role in Dr. No.

John Kitzmiller
Kitzmiller in 1954
Born(1913-12-04)December 4, 1913
DiedFebruary 23, 1965(1965-02-23) (aged 51)
Years active1947–1965

Early life

John Kitzmiller was born in Battle Creek, Michigan, to John B. and Mary E. Kitzmiller. In high school Kitzmiller was a member of the Chemistry Club, and he later attended the University of Michigan, receiving a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 1937.[1] Kitzmiller was commissioned in the US Army reaching the rank of Captain in the Corps of Engineers. He was stationed in Italy in 1943, serving with the 92nd Infantry Division during the Italian campaign of World War II.[2] Both of Kitzmiller's parents died during his military service, events which likely influenced his decision to become one of the few black soldiers to remain in Italy after the war.[1]

Acting career

Kitzmiller was discovered in 1946 by Luigi Zampa and Carlo Ponti while playing poker at an officers' club.[3] This chance meeting led to his first acting role, in Zampa and Ponti's film To Live in Peace in 1947. Kitzmiller frequently worked in Italian neorealist films. He made Italy his permanent residence and ultimately starred in more than fifty European films, often portraying an angry black man fighting racism.

He played the leading role of "Jerry" in the film Senza pietà ("Without Pity"), from a screenplay by Federico Fellini, Alberto Lattuada and Tullio Pinelli. He received awards commemorating both his role as an actor and as a soldier. In 1957, he was the first black actor to win a best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for his role in the Slovenian film Valley of Peace. Kitzmiller is most famous for his role as Quarrel in the 1962 James Bond film Dr. No.


Kitzmiller died of a liver ailment at the age of 51.[4]

Selected filmography


  1. Fikes, Robert. "Kitzmiller, John (1913-1965)." Retrieved May 28, 2016.
  2. "John Kitzmiller, Who Became Italian Star, Dies At 51." Jet, March 11, 1965. Google Books. Retrieved May 6, 2017.
  3. Ehrman, Richard. "Former American Army Officer Wins Best Actor at Cannes Festival." St. Petersburg Times. May 20, 1957. 23.
  4. "American actor dies in Rome." Afro-American, February 27, 1965. 19. Retrieved January 27, 2011.
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