Victor Kilian

Victor Arthur Kilian (March 6, 1891 – March 11, 1979) was an American actor who was blacklisted by the Hollywood movie studio bosses in the 1950s.[1]

Victor Kilian
Victor Arthur Kilian

(1891-03-06)March 6, 1891
DiedMarch 11, 1979(1979-03-11) (aged 88)
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, US
Cause of deathHomicide during a robbery
Resting placeWestwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery
Years active1909—1979
Spouse(s)Daisy Johnson (1915-1961) (her death)

Early life and career

Born in Jersey City, New Jersey, Victor Kilian began his career in entertainment at the age of 18 by joining a vaudeville company. In the mid-1920s, he began to perform in Broadway plays and by the end of the decade had made his debut in motion pictures. For the next two decades, he made a good living as a character actor in secondary or minor roles in films such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938). He was frequently cast as a villain. While staging a fight scene with John Wayne for a 1942 film, Kilian suffered a serious injury that resulted in the loss of one eye.[2]

He was an early resident of Free Acres, a social experimental community developed by Bolton Hall in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey.[3]

During the McCarthyism of the 1950s, Kilian was blacklisted for his political beliefs, but because the Actors' Equity Association refused to go along with the ban, Kilian was able to earn a living by returning to perform on stage. After Hollywood's blacklisting ended, he began doing guest roles on television series during the 1970s. He is best known for his role as Grandpa Larkin (aka The Fernwood Flasher) in the television soap opera spoof Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (1976). Kilian's wife, Daisy Johnson, to whom he had been married for 46 years, died in 1961.

In 1979, Kilian appeared in an episode of All in the Family, "The Return of Stephanie's Father", portraying a desk clerk in a seedy hotel. In the same episode, fellow veteran Hollywood character actor Charles Wagenheim (1896-1979) appeared as a bum in the hotel’s lobby. Just weeks before the episode aired, on March 6, 1979 (Kilian’s birthday), the 83 year-old Wagenheim was bludgeoned to death in his Hollywood apartment after he was surprised coming home from grocery shopping during an act of robbery. Five days later, on March 11, 1979, Kilian, who lived alone in Hollywood just blocks from Wagenheim, also was beaten to death by burglars in his apartment.[4]

On March 20, 1979, All in the Family posthumously aired the episode "The Return of Stephanie's Father", with Wagenheim’s and Kilian’s last screen performances. Victor Kilian's cremated remains were scattered in the rose garden at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.

Selected filmography

See also


  1. Hardesty, Bill (2012-10-10). "Who Killed Victor? • Memories of Hollywood". Memories of Hollywood. Retrieved 2019-09-27.
  2. CreepyLA. "The Strange Case of Victor Kilian and the Ghost of the Chinese Theatre – Creepy LA: The Los Angeles Halloween Blog". Retrieved 2019-09-27.
  3. Buchan, Perdita. "Utopia, NJ", New Jersey Monthly, February 7, 2008. Accessed February 27, 2011. "Free Acres had some famous residents in those heady early days: actors James Cagney and Jersey City–born Victor Kilian, writers Thorne Smith (Topper) and MacKinlay Kantor (Andersonville), and anarchist Harry Kelly, who helped found the Ferrer Modern School, centerpiece of the anarchist colony at Stelton in present-day Piscataway."
  4. "Victor Kilian, Actor, Found Beaten Fatally in Hollywood Home". The New York Times. 1979-03-13. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-09-27.
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