John Randolph (actor)

Emanuel Hirsch Cohen (June 1, 1915 – February 24, 2004),[1] better known by the stage name John Randolph, was an American film, television and stage actor.[2]

John Randolph
Emanuel Hirsch Cohen

(1915-06-01)June 1, 1915
New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedFebruary 24, 2004(2004-02-24) (aged 88)
Hollywood, California, U.S.
Years active1938–2003
Sarah Cunningham
(m. 1942; died 1986)

Early life

Randolph was born in New York City, the son of Jewish immigrants from Russia and Romania.[3] His mother, Dorothy (née Shorr), was an insurance agent, and his father, Louis Cohen, was a hat manufacturer.[1][4][5] In the 1930s, he spent his summers at the Pine Brook Country Club in Nichols, Connecticut which was the summer home of the Group Theatre.[6][7] He made his Broadway debut in 1938 in Coriolanus.[8] Randolph joined the United States Army Air Forces in World War II. He had a small role in the 1948 film The Naked City.

He and wife Sarah Cunningham were blacklisted from working in Hollywood films and in New York film and television and radio after 1948. In 1955 they were both called before the HUAC to testify concerning ongoing investigations concerning Communist infiltration in the American entertainment industry. Both he and his wife refused to answer questions and cited the Fifth Amendment protection against testifying against themselves.[9]

John and Sarah Randolph were very active in AFTRA, SAG and in Actor's Equity, were elected members of union boards and became vice presidents at various times during their careers.


Randolph was one of the last blacklisted actors to regain employment in Hollywood films when director John Frankenheimer cast him in a major role in Seconds in 1966. Randolph was in the original New York stage productions of The Sound of Music (as Von Trapp's butler, Franz), Paint Your Wagon, and The Visit.

He won the 1987 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play for his performance in the Neil Simon play Broadway Bound. He made his last Broadway appearance in 1991 in Prelude to a Kiss.

Randolph made numerous screen and television appearances in secondary roles, among which he played Donna Pescow's father in-law on the television series Angie.[10]

In the 1970s he made three appearances as Cornelius "Junior" Harrison, father of Emily Hartley in The Bob Newhart Show. In 1974, he played an Air Force Colonel in the Columbo episode "Swan Song". In 1975, Randolph was cast as General Philip Blankenship in The New Original Wonder Woman pilot. He was replaced by Richard Eastham in the television series. He had an uncredited role in the 1976 film All The President's Men as the voice of Richard Nixon's Attorney General John Mitchell. He played Judge J. Waites Waring in "With All Deliberate Speed", a 1976 episode of CBS's mini-series: The American Parade, dealing with events culminating in the 1954 Supreme Court decision (Brown v Board of Education) barring racial segregation in US public schools.[11][12] In 1979, he had a guest appearance with Ed Begley Jr. on M*A*S*H as an adjutant army general admiring the culinary prowess of a master chef errantly assigned as a foot soldier in a front unit.

Randolph also appeared in a made-for-TV movie entitled The Gathering, a Christmas-themed show along with Edward Asner and Maureen Stapleton. The movie was nominated and won the Emmy for Outstanding Special - Drama or Comedy.

In 1982, he appeared in a first-season episode of Family Ties as Jake Keaton, Steven Keaton's father. He was the special guest star in the 1986 ABC made-for-TV movie The Right of the People, playing Police Chief Hollander in a town soon allowing all adults to carry handguns.[13][14] In 1990, he co-starred in the NBC comedy Grand.

He appeared in "The Handicap Spot", an early episode of the television sitcom Seinfeld as Frank Costanza, George Costanza's father. He was later replaced by Jerry Stiller. In 1995, the scenes in which Randolph appeared were re-shot with Stiller. The re-shot version is shown in syndication in the United States (but can also be seen on the DVD). The original version, with Randolph, can be seen outside the U.S. and on DVD, Hulu and Crackle.

He also appeared in a Season 2 episode of Matlock as the head of a crime family in "The Investigation".

He costarred with Alec Guinness, Leo McKern, Jeanne Moreau and Lauren Bacall, in the BBC production of A Foreign Field (1993) as a World War II veteran returning to France to find the woman he fell in love with. He played Chief Sidney Green in Serpico (1973), directed by Sidney Lumet.[1] He also played the father of Charlie Partana (played by Jack Nicholson) in Prizzi's Honor and Clark W. Griswold, Sr. in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (with Chevy Chase). One of his last film roles was as Joe Fox's grandfather in You've Got Mail (1998).

In 1989 he appeared in an episode of Roseanne playing Al, Roseanne's dad. In 1991 he guested in an episode of Married ... With Children entitled "Al Bundy, Shoe Dick".

On February 24, 2004, Randolph died at age eighty-eight.[2][15]

Selected filmography


  1. "Film Reference bio". Retrieved 2011-02-25.
  2. Sisario, Ben (February 28, 2004). "John Randolph, 88, an Actor On Broadway and in the Movies". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-10-03. Mr. Randolph and his wife were called before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955 but refused to testify. He remained blacklisted from film and television work until the mid-1960s, returning to work in the science-fiction film Seconds in 1966. That film, directed by John Frankenheimer, starred Rock Hudson and also featured Will Greer [sic] and Jeff Corey, who had also been blacklisted.
  3. "The Name Game". latimes. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
  4. People's Weekly World: "John Randolph's life and legacy" Archived October 29, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  5. Bergan, Ronald (2004-03-08). "John Randolph, US stage actor whose film career outlasted the blacklist". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2011-02-25.
  6. "About". Pinewood Lake Association. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  7. Images of America, Trumbull Historical Society, 1997, p. 123
  8. Martha Randolph
  9. "Six Entertainers Defy Un-American Probers in Red Theater Quiz". Schenectady Gazette. United Press. August 16, 1955. p. 1. Retrieved 27 August 2014.
  10. "Character actor John Randolph dead at 88". CNN. Associated Press. February 27, 2004. Archived from the original on 2004-02-28.
  11. Todd, Sharon (June 4, 1976). "Actor John Randolph, Wife Take Time Off In Greenville". The Greenville News (Main ed.). p. 10. Retrieved January 17, 2018 via
  12. "With All Deliberate Speed". Longview News-Journal. Texas. June 13, 1976. p. 12-G. Retrieved January 17, 2018 via
  13. Dorsey, Tom (January 13, 1986). "'Right of the People' is a case of overkill of handgun controversy". The Courier-Journal (Metro ed.). Louisville, Kentucky. p. B2. Retrieved January 17, 2018 via
  14. Harrison, Tom (January 12, 1986). "'Right of the People': Gun Crazy". The Greenville News. TV Spotlight. p. 29. Retrieved January 17, 2018 via
  15. McLellan, Dennis (February 27, 2004). "John Randolph, 88; Tony-Winning Character Actor Was Blacklisted". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
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