John Marley

John Marley (born Mortimer Marlieb,[2] October 17, 1907 May 22, 1984) was an American actor who was known for his role as Phil Cavalleri in Love Story and as Jack Woltz the defiant film mogul who awakens to find the severed head of his prized horse in his bedin The Godfather (1972).[3] He starred in John Cassavetes' feature Faces (1968)[3] and appeared in The Glitter Dome (1984).

John Marley
John Marley in The Godfather as Jack Woltz.
Mortimer Marlieb

(1907-10-17)October 17, 1907
DiedMay 22, 1984(1984-05-22) (aged 76)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Resting placeCedar Park Cemetery
Years active19471984
  • Stanja Lowe
    (m. 1951; div. 1971)
  • Sandra Marley (m. 1975)

Early years

Marley was born in Harlem in New York City to Russian-Jewish parents. He dropped out of the City College of New York, turning instead to a career in acting.[1]


Military service

Marley served in the United States Army Signal Corps during World War II.[1]

Film and television

Marley was a prolific character actor, appearing in nearly 150 films and television series during a career that spanned forty-five years. TV series included The Web, Peter Gunn, Johnny Staccato, Bourbon Street Beat, Rawhide, The Untouchables, Sea Hunt, 77 Sunset Strip, The Lloyd Bridges Show, Dr. Kildare, The Outer Limits, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Twilight Zone, Gunsmoke, The Wild Wild West, Mannix, Bonanza, Ironside, The Name of the Game, The F.B.I., Cannon, McCloud, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Baretta, Barnaby Jones, and Hawaii Five-0.

He was cast as George Campbell in the 1961 episode "Jerkwater" of the ABC western series, The Rebel, starring Nick Adams. In 1962 he played the role of murderer Matthew Owen in the Perry Mason episode, "The Case of the Angry Astronaut."

One of Marley's most notable roles, albeit short, was that of film producer Jack Woltz in The Godfather. Marley later spoofed that role in an episode of SCTV Network. He played Max Berns, a film producer who was a caring father figure to Burt Reynolds in the stuntman tribute, Hooper.[3]

In the late 70s, he appeared in the third season of the popular television series, The Incredible Hulk as D.W. Banner, the father of the main character, David Banner, in the "Homecoming" episode.


Marley's Broadway credits include The Investigation (1966), Sing Till Tomorrow (1953), The Strong Are Lonely (1953), Skipper Next to God (1947),[4] and Johnny Doodle (1942).[1] Elsewhere on stage, Marley appeared in the world premiere production of Edna St. Vincent Millay's poetry drama, Conversation At Midnight in 1961 in Los Angeles, in an ensemble cast which included James Coburn, Jack Albertson and Eduard Franz. The production was directed by Robert Gist and produced by Worley Thorne and Susan Davis.

He also directed little theater productions in several cities.[5]

Personal life

Marley was twice married. His first wife, the actress Stanja Lowe bore him three children.[5] Their son, the actor Ben Marley has appeared in many films, including Jaws 2.


In 1984, Marley died at age 76 following open-heart surgery.[6] He is interred at Cedar Park Cemetery, in Emerson, New Jersey.[7]


In 1968, Marley won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival for his work in Faces.[8] In 1970, he was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his role in Love Story[9] but lost to John Mills, who won for Ryan's Daughter. He was also nominated for a 1971 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting role in Any Motion Picture for his work in Love Story.[10]


Year Title Role Notes
1942Native LandThug With CrowbarUncredited
as John Marlieb
1947Kiss of DeathPrisoner in Spinning MillUncredited
1948The Naked CityManaging EditorUncredited
1950Ma and Pa Kettle Go to TownSecond Cab DriverUncredited
1951The MobTony
1952My Six ConvictsKnotty Johnson
1953The Joe Louis StoryMannie Seamon
1955The Square JungleTommy Dillon - Referee
1956Time TableBobik
1958I Want to Live!Father Devers
1960Pay or DieD. Caputo, Ragman
Sea HuntSeason 3, Episode 31
1961Sea HuntSeason 4, Episode 28
1962The Twilight Zone - Kick the CanMr. Cox
1963A Child Is WaitingHolland
The Wheeler DealersAchilles Dimitros
America, AmericaGarabet
1964The Twilight Zone - The Old Man in the CaveJason
1965Nightmare in the SunHogan, Gas station owner
Cat BallouFrankie Ballou
The Lollipop CoverGeorge
1968FacesRichard Forst
In Enemy CountryRausch
1970A Man Called SledgeOld Man
Love StoryPhil CavalleriNominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
1971Clay PigeonPolice Captain
1972The Dead Are AliveNikos Samarakis
The GodfatherJack Woltz
1973JoryRoy Starr
BladeTommy Blade
1974DeathdreamCharles Brooks
1975FramedSal Viccarrone
1976W.C. Fields and MeStudio Head Bannerman
1977The CarSheriff Everett Peck
Hawaii Five-ONoah"Tread the King's Shadow"
The GreatestDr. Ferdie Pacheco
The Private Files of J. Edgar HooverDave Hindley
1978Greatest Heroes of the BibleMoses
It Lives AgainMr. Mallory
HooperMax Berns
1980TributeLou Daniels
1981ThresholdEdgar Fine
The AmateurMolton
1982Mother LodeElijah
1983UtilitiesRoy Blue
1986On the EdgeElmo Glidden(final film role)


  1. Pareles, Jon (May 24, 1984). "John Marley, Actor, An Oscar Nominee and Venice Winner". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 26 August 2017. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  2. "Marley, John". American National Biography Online. Oxford University Press. February 2000. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  3. Pareles, Jon (May 24, 1984). "JOHN MARLEY, ACTOR, AN OSCAR NOMINEE AND VENICE WINNER". The New York Times.
  4. "("John Marley" search results)". Playbill Vault. Playbill. Archived from the original on 26 August 2017. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  5. Corday, Barbara (January 12, 1971). "They're Saying His Name in Same Breath With 'Oscar'". Valley News. California, Van Nuys. p. 22. Retrieved August 26, 2017 via
  6. Obituary Variety, May 30, 1984.
  7. Resting Places
  8. "Volpi Cup for Best Actor". Carnival of Venice. Archived from the original on 26 August 2017. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  9. "("John Marley" search results)". Academy Awards Database. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  10. "John Marley". Golden Globe Awards. Archived from the original on 26 August 2017. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
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