John Saxon

John Saxon (born Carmine Orrico; August 5, 1935) is an American actor and martial artist who has worked on more than 200 projects during a span of 60 years. Saxon is known for his work in westerns and horror films, often playing police officers and detectives.

John Saxon
Saxon in 1958
Carmine Orrico

(1935-08-05) August 5, 1935
ResidenceLos Angeles, California, U.S.
Years active1954–2015
  • Mary Ann Saxon
    (m. 1967; div. 1979)
    Elizabeth Saxon
    (m. 1987; div. 1992)
    Gloria Martel (m. 2008)
ChildrenAntonio Saxon

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Saxon studied acting with Stella Adler before beginning his career as a contract player for Universal Pictures, appearing in such films as Rock, Pretty Baby (1956) and Portrait in Black (1961). In the 1970s and 1980s, he would establish himself as a character actor, frequently portraying law enforcement officials in horror films such as Black Christmas (1974), Dario Argento's Tenebrae (1982), and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).

In addition to his roles in horror films, Saxon co-starred with Bruce Lee in the martial arts film Enter the Dragon (1973), and has supporting roles in the westerns Death of a Gunfighter (1969) and Joe Kidd (1972), as well as the adventure thriller Raid on Entebbe (1977). In the 1990s, Saxon occasionally appeared in films, with small roles in Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994) and From Dusk till Dawn (1996).

Early life

Saxon, an Italian American,[2] was born Carmine Orrico in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Anna (née Protettore) and Antonio Orrico, a dock worker.[3] He attended New Utrecht High School, graduating in 1953. He then studied acting with famous acting coach Stella Adler. He started making films in the mid-1950s, playing teenage roles. According to Robert Hofler's 2005 biography The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson, agent Willson saw Saxon's picture on the cover of a detective magazine and immediately contacted the boy's family in Brooklyn.[4] With parents' permission, the 17-year-old Orrico signed with Willson, and he was renamed John Saxon.[5] He signed with Universal Studios in April 1954 at $150 a week.[6] John Saxon is proficient in Judo and Shotokan Karate.[7]


Universal Pictures

Saxon spent 18 months at Universal before the studio first used him in a film.[8] His first significant role was a juvenile delinquent in Running Wild (1955), co-starring Mamie Van Doren.

He was then given a good role in The Unguarded Moment (1956), playing a youth who seemingly stalks Esther Williams. In February 1956 Universal exercised its option on Saxon and he was paid $225 a week.[6]

Teen idol

Saxon had the lead in a low budget teen film, Rock, Pretty Baby (1956) which became an unexpected hit and established Saxon as a teen idol. Universal executives were pleased, and Ross Hunter announced he would be in Teach Me How to Cry[9]. First Saxon quickly reprised his Rock, Pretty Baby role in a sequel, Summer Love (1958). By now he was getting 3,000 fan letters a week.[10]

He then made Teach Me How to Cry with Sandra Dee which was retitled The Restless Years (1958).

Universal put him in an "A film", This Happy Feeling (1958), directed by Blake Edwards, where Saxon romanced Debbie Reynolds in support of Curt Jurgens. MGM borrowed him to appear opposite Sandra Dee in The Reluctant Debutante (1958), for director Vincente Minnelli, which was widely seen. Saxon was billed third, beneath Rex Harrison and Kay Kendall.

He had a support role in a big budget Biblical drama about Simon Peter, The Big Fisherman (1959) for director Frank Borzage, starring Howard Keel. It was a box office disappointment.

Over at United Artists Saxon was the lead in Cry Tough (1959), a film about juvenile delinquents.

Saxon worked with another top director, John Huston, in the Western, The Unforgiven (1960), playing an Indian in support of Burt Lancaster and Audrey Hepburn.

Back at Universal, he remained in a supporting role, but it was a good one: Portrait in Black (1960), reunited with Dee, with Lana Turner and Anthony Quinn.

He was essentially a juvenile delinquent cowboy in The Plunderers (1960), tormenting Jeff Chandler. He stayed in Westerns in Posse from Hell (1961) with Audie Murphy and guest stars on shows like General Electric Theater and The Dick Powell Theatre.[11]

"I want to do all sorts of character parts," he said in 1960.[12]

Saxon played a serial killer soldier War Hunt (1962), and had a small role in the comedy hit Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation (1962).


Saxon traveled to Italy to make Agostino (1962).

In 1963 Saxon co-starred with Letícia Román in Mario Bava's Italian giallo film The Girl Who Knew Too Much.

He returned to Hollywood to appear in Otto Preminger's The Cardinal (1963) and an episode of Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre then was back to Europe for The Cavern (1964).

The Ravagers (1965) was shot in the Philippines; Night Caller from Outer Space (1965) was a science fiction film shot in Britain.

In 1966, he starred in Curtis Harrington's science fiction/horror classic Queen of Blood with Basil Rathbone and Dennis Hopper, then appeared opposite Marlon Brando in The Appaloosa (1966), winning a Golden Globe Best Supporting Actor nomination for his portrayal of a Mexican bandit. Saxon recalls, "This was to me a terrific role and something I was ready for, but he [Brando] was despondent. He said he had lent a whole bunch of money to his father, and what he was saying to me was that his father ruined his life by losing all of his money. He was kind of bored in the picture."[5]

The Doomsday Flight (1966) was a made-for-TV movie. In an interview in 1966 he said "I never felt comfortable being a teenage dreamboat... I regard myself as a craftsman."[13]

He portrayed Marco Polo in episode 26 of The Time Tunnel ("Attack of the Barbarians"), originally airing March 10, 1967, and was a guest star on Bonanza in 1967 ("The Conquistadores"). In episode 19, season 5 of The Virginian ("The Modoc Kid") Saxon appeared in the title role alongside a young up and coming actor, appearing in one of his first speaking roles, Harrison Ford. And in 1969 he appeared in ("My Friend, My Enemy").

Saxon was in a sex comedy for Sam Katzman, For Singles Only (1968) and appeared in some Westerns, One Dollar Too Many (1968), Death of a Gunfighter (1969), "The Men From Shiloh" (rebranded name for The Virginian (1971), and Joe Kidd (1972) (again playing a Mexican, this time a revolutionary named Luis Chama). I Kiss the Hand (1973) was a thriller made in Italy.

He spent three years as Dr. Theodore Stuart on the series The Bold Ones: The New Doctors (1969–1972).

Enter the Dragon

He appeared in 1973's Enter the Dragon, Bruce Lee's first starring role in a Hollywood feature. He was in action films: Mitchell (1974), The Swiss Conspiracy (1975), Strange Shadows in an Empty Room (1976), Napoli violenta (1976), Mark Strikes Again (1976), A Special Cop in Action (1976), Cross Shot (1976), The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist (1977).

In 1974 he appeared as police Lieutenant Fuller in the Canadian production of Black Christmas; from 1974–76, he appeared in The Six Million Dollar Man, first as Major Frederick Sloan and then as Nedlick. This role also extended into The Bionic Woman. The actor's likeness was later used for the Kenner action-figure doll called 'Maskatron' which was based on the series.

In 1976, Saxon portrayed a homicidal vampire-like strangler in the Season Two Starsky & Hutch episode, 'Vampire.' Raid on Entebbe (1977) was a prestige TV movie. Moonshine County Express was a big hit for Roger Corman's New World Pictures; Saxon made another for that company, The Bees (1978). He appeared in a Bollywood movie, Shalimar (1978) then it was back to exploitation: Fast Company (1979), The Glove (1979).

Saxon played Hunt Sears, head of a breakfast cereal conglomerate, opposite Robert Redford and Jane Fonda in the 1979, Oscar-nominated film The Electric Horseman.


He appeared in the 1982 TV movie Rooster, and appeared in the last week of the game show Whew! His extensive television credits include two years as Tony Cumson on Falcon Crest (1982, 1986–1988) as well as the recurring role of Rashid Ahmed on Dynasty (1982–1984).

He appeared twice, in different roles, in The A-Team in 1983 and 1985. He played the role of Captain Radl in the two-part Wonder Woman episode "The Feminine Mystique" in 1976.

Saxon has appeared in many Italian films, mainly in spaghetti western and police thriller genres. Titles from these genres include One Dollar Too Many (1968) and Napoli violenta (1976). He also was the second incarnation of Dylan Hunt from the Gene Roddenberry shows called Planet Earth and Strange New World.

He then appeared in Dario Argento's Tenebrae (1982) as the writer hero's shifty agent; in Mitchell (1975) as the murderous union lawyer and prostitute provider Walter Deaney; in Battle Beyond the Stars (1980) as Sador; in Cannibal Apocalypse (1980) where he played a Vietnam veteran tormented because his worthless pal bit him and years later, he is starting to get the urge to do the same; in Prisoners of the Lost Universe as an alternate-universe warlord, and in Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) as the heroine's (Nancy Thompson's) father. He reprised his role in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors (1987) and Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994) as he played himself in a dual role. He also made his directorial debut in 1987 with the horror film Zombie Death House, which starred Dennis Cole and Anthony Franciosa. He starred in Maximum Force (1992) as Captain Fuller and also appeared in From Dusk till Dawn (1996).

In recent years, he has been in a number of independent films and has appeared in several television series, including CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and the Showtime series Masters of Horror.

He was a special guest on the Creation Entertainment - Weekend of Horrors 2010 on 21 May in Los Angeles.[14]



Year Title Role Notes
1954It Should Happen to YouBoy Watching Argument in ParkUncredited
1954A Star Is BornMovie Premiere UsherUncredited
1955Running WildVince Pomeroy
1956The Unguarded MomentLeonard Bennett
1956Rock, Pretty BabyJimmy Daley
1957Summer LoveJimmy Daley
1958This Happy FeelingBill Tremaine
1958The Reluctant DebutanteDavid Parkson
1958The Restless YearsWill Henderson
1959Cry ToughMiguel Antonio Enrico Francisco Estrada
1959The Big FishermanPrince Voldi
1960The UnforgivenJohnny Portugal
1960Portrait in BlackBlake Richards
1960The PlunderersRondo
1961Posse from HellSeymour Kern
1962War HuntPvt. Raymond Endore
1962Mr. Hobbs Takes a VacationByron Grant
1963The Girl Who Knew Too MuchDr. Marcello Bassi
1963The CardinalBenny Rampell
1964The CavernPvt. Joe Cramer
1965The RavagersCapt. Kermit DowlingAlso known as: In the Philippines: Only the Brave Know Hell
1965The Night CallerDr. Jack Costain
1966Queen of BloodAllan Brenner
1966The AppaloosaChuy
1966The Doomsday FlightGeorge DucetteTelevision film
1967Winchester '73Dakin McAdamTelevision film
1968Istanbul ExpressChevalTelevision film
1968For Singles OnlyBret Hendley
1968One Dollar Too ManyClay Watson
1969Death of a GunfighterLou Trinidad
1971"The Men From Shiloh (rebranded name of The VirginianSgt. Terence MulcahyTV western
1971Mr Kingstreet's WarJim Kingstreet
1972Joe KiddLuis Chama
1973I Kiss the HandGaspare Ardizzone
1973Enter the DragonRoper
1974Planet EarthDylan Hunt
1974Black ChristmasLt. Ken Fuller
1975Metralleta 'Stein'Mariano Beltrán
1975MitchellWalter Deaney
1976The Swiss ConspiracyRobert Hayes
1976Strange Shadows in an Empty RoomSgt. Ned Matthews
1976Violent NaplesFrancesco Capuano
1976Mark Strikes AgainInspector Altman
1976A Special Cop in ActionJean Albertelli
1976Cross ShotCommissioner Jacovella
1977Raid on EntebbeGen. Benny Peled
1977The Cynic, the Rat and the FistDiMaggio
1977Moonshine County ExpressJ.B. Johnson
1977Tre soldi e la donna di classe
1978The BeesJohn Norman
1978ShalimarCol. Columbus
1979Fast CompanyPhil Adamson
1979The GloveSam Kellog
1979The Electric HorsemanHunt Sears
1980Beyond EvilLarry Andrews
1980Cannibal ApocalypseNorman Hopper
1980Battle Beyond the StarsSador
1980Running ScaredCaptain Munoz
1981Blood BeachCaptain Pearson
1982Wrong Is RightHomer Hubbard
1982Una di troppoSergio Puccini the notary
1982Scorpion with Two TailsArthur Barnard
1982DesireJoe Hale
1983Prisoners of the Lost UniverseKleel
1983The Big ScoreDavis
1984A Nightmare on Elm StreetLt. Donald Thompson
1985Fever PitchSports editor
1986Hands of SteelFrancis Turner
1987A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream WarriorsDonald Thompsoncredited as Special Appearance
1987House Made of DawnTosamah
1987Death HouseColonel Gordon Burgess
1988The Last Samurai
1988Nightmare BeachStrycher
1989My Mom's a WerewolfHarry Thropen
1989Criminal ActHerb Tamplin
1990AftershockOliver Quinn
1990The Final AllianceGhost
1990Crossing the LineJack Kagan
1990Blood SalvageClifford Evans
1991The ArrivalAgent Mills
1992Maximum ForceCaptain Fuller
1992HellmasterProfessor Jones
1993The Baby Doll MurdersJohn Maglia
1993No Escape No ReturnJames Mitchell
1993Jonathan of the BearsFred Goodwin
1994Beverly Hills Cop IIIOrrin Sanderson
1994Killing ObsessionDr. Sachs
1994Wes Craven's New NightmareHimself/Donald Thompson
1994Frame-Up II: The Cover-UpCharles Searage
1996From Dusk till DawnFBI Agent Stanley Chase
1997The Killers WithinDetective Lewis
1997Lancelot: Guardian of TimeWolvencroft
1998The Party CrashersMr. Foster
1998Joseph's GiftJacob Keller
1999Criminal MindsAntonio DiPaolo Jr.
2001Final PaybackPolice Chief George Moreno
2001Night ClassMurphy
2002Outta TimeJames Darabont
2003The Road HomeMichael Curtis
2006The Craving HeartRichard Tom
2006Trapped AshesLeoSegment: "Stanley's Girlfriend"
2008God's EarsLee Robinson
2009Old DogsPaul
2009War WolvesTony Ford
2009The Mercy ManFather McMurray
2010Genghis KhanChiledu
2015The ExtraVictor Vallient

Television (selected)

Year Title Role Notes Se




Cal Strom

Virgil Stanley

Season 11, Episode 14:

"The Avengers"

Season 12, Episode 8: "The Whispering Tree"

1967The Time TunnelMarco PoloEpisode 26: "Attack of the Barbarians"
1967The VirginianDel StetlerSeason 5, Episode 19: "The Modoc Kid"
1967BonanzaSteve FridaySeason 8, Episode 19: "Black Friday""
1967BonanzaBlasSeason 9, Episode 3: "The Conquistadors"
1972Kung FuThe bounty hunterEpisode: "The King of the Mountain"
1973The Streets of San FranciscoVincent HagopianEpisode: "A Collection of Eagles"
1973Police StoryHimselfEpisode: "Death on Credit"
1974The Mary Tyler Moore ShowMike TedescoSeason 5, Episode 8: "Menage-a-Phyllis
1974The Six Million Dollar ManMajor Fred SloanSeason 1 Episode 4: "Day of the Robot
1975Gunsmoke Gristy CalhounSeason 20, Episode 14 "The Squaw"
1976Starsky & HutchRene Nadasy/vampireSeason 2, Episode 7: "Vampire"
1976Wonder WomanCaptain RadlSeason 1, Episode 5: "The Feminum Mystique Part 1"
1976Wonder WomanCaptain RadlSeason 1, Episode 6: "The Feminum Mystique Part 2"
1976The Rockford FilesDave DelarouxSeason 2, Episode 16: "Portrait of Elizabeth"
1976Once an Eagle (miniseries)Captain Townshend
197779 Park Avenue (miniseries)Harry Vito
1977Quincy, M.E.Charles DesskasaSeason 2, Episode 11 "Sullied Be Thy Name"
1978The ImmigrantsAlan Brocker
1979Hawaii Five-OHarry CliveSeason 11, Episode 16 "The Bark and the Bite"
1983The A-TeamRev. Martin JamesSeason 1, Episode 3 "Children of Jamestown"[15]
1984DynastyRashid AhmedRecurring character 1982-1984
1984Murder, She WroteJerry LydeckerEpisode: "Hooray for Homicide
1988Murder, She WroteMarco GambiniEpisode: "A Very Good Year For Murder"
1994Murder, She WroteUncle Bernardo BonelliEpisode: "Proof in the Pudding"


  1. Ortega, Albert L. "Hollywood Show 2014". Getty Images.
  2. Hopper, Hedda (1 September 1957). "John Saxon's The Brooklyn Italian Type". The Hartford Courant. Retrieved 2007-12-10.
  3. "John Saxon Biography (1935-)". Retrieved 2010-12-31.
  4. Hofler, Robert (2005). The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson: The Pretty Boys and Dirty Deals of Henry Willson. Carroll & Graf. ISBN 978-0786716074.
  5. King, Susan (October 21, 2012). "John Saxon, Hollywood cool guy, remembers his 'Dragon' days". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-01-23.
  6. "Contracts of Two Young Film Players Approved: Mutual Congratulations Mark Meeting of Rena Clark and John Saxon in Court". Los Angeles Times. 16 February 1956. p. A1.
  7. Jacques, Steve (1 August 1973). "John Saxon's Greatest Challenge". Black Belt: 14–18. Retrieved 5 March 2019 via Google Books.
  8. Hopper, Hedda (1 Sep 1957). "Saxon Draws Diverse Roles: Diverse Characters Played by John Saxon". Los Angeles Times. p. D1.
  9. Louella Parsons: Bobo Rockefeller Invests in a Movie The Washington Post and Times Herald 22 Dec 1956: B13.
  10. Beck, Joan (4 July 1960). "John Saxon, Handsome, Moody Teen-Age Idol". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. A1.
  11. Is He the One Who'll Become Scott, John L. Los Angeles Times 11 Dec 1960: B6.
  12. John Saxon, Handsome, Moody Teen-Age Idol Beck, Joan. Chicago Daily Tribune 4 July 1960: a1.
  13. Alpert, Don (27 Mar 1966). "John Saxon—Teen Dreamboat on Calmer Seas". Los Angeles Times. p. B4.
  14. Barton, Steve (22 April 2010). "Creation Weekend of Horrors - Get Your Tickets Before They're All Gone!". DreadCentral. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  15. "Children of Jamestown". IMDb. The A Team. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
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