John van Dreelen

John van Dreelen (5 May 1922 – 4 September 1992) was a Dutch-born American-based actor, who frequently performed on television from the 1960s to the 1980s.[1]

John van Dreelen
van Dreelen in 1964
Jacques van Drielen Gimberg

(1922-05-22)May 22, 1922
DiedSeptember 4, 1992(1992-09-04) (aged 70)
Years active1948–1992

Early years

He was born as Jacques van Drielen Gimberg and until 1950 his stage name was Jack Gimberg, at which time he changed it to John van Dreelen.

The son of Dutch actor and director Louis van Dreelen Gimberg and the Countess de Labouchere of Paris,[2] van Dreelen was born in Amsterdam. He attended the Sorbonne[3] and was fluent in several languages.

He escaped the Emslandlager labor camp near Papenburg by disguising himself as one of the German officers he would later play so often on both big and small screens.[2]


Though he appeared in many European films, van Dreelen is best remembered as an A-list guest star in dozens of American television shows from the early 1960s to the mid-1980s, such as 12 O'Clock High, The Twilight Zone ("The Jeopardy Room"), The Man from UNCLE, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Wild Wild West, Combat!, Blue Light, and Mission: Impossible.[4] In 1962, he played the part of Ulrich in the episode "The Immigrants" on CBS's Rawhide.[5] In 1964 he played a film producer (and murderer) in the Perry Mason episode, "The Case of the Bountiful Beauty."[6] In 1965 he was again cast as the murderer in the episode, "The Case of the Feather Cloak."[7]


Never a major player in theatrical films, he nonetheless scored a few choice roles, including the Danish concert pianist who rescues and woos Lana Turner during an extended sequence in Madame X in 1966.[8] Four episodes of Blue Light were edited together to create the theatrical film I Deal in Danger, which was released in December 1966 and included his appearance.[9] His other film credits included roles in Von Ryan's Express (1965), Topaz (1969), Lost Horizon (1973), The Big Game (1973), The Clone Master (1978), The Formula (1980), The Money Pit (1986) and Born to Fight (1989), as well as TV miniseries such as The Rhinemann Exchange, The Word and Washington: Behind Closed Doors.[1]


Van Dreelen had an international stage career and starred in a Dutch staging of My Fair Lady. He starred as Baron Von Trapp for 40 weeks[3] in as the original American touring production of The Sound of Music. (According to the actor, Richard Rodgers wanted van Dreelen and Audrey Hepburn to play the film's leads.)



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