John Forsythe, best known as the oil tycoon Blake Carrington on the television series Dynasty, died on April 1 at his home in Santa Ynez, a couple of hours northwest of Los Angeles. Forsythe was 92.
Born John Lincoln Freund on Jan. 29, 1918, in Penn’s Grove, N.J., Forsythe began his acting career onstage in the 1940s, including a role in Arthur Miller’s All My Sons. He later replaced Henry Fonda in the smash hit Mister Roberts and starred as an Army officer in occupied Okinawa in Teahouse of the August Moon.
In the Hollywood of the 1950s, Forsythe was less lucky. His most prestigious film of the period was Alfred Hitchcock’s minor murder comedy The Trouble with Harry (1955), with Harry being a corpse and the trouble being that Harry keeps turning up where he shouldn’t. Shirley MacLaine, Edmund Gwenn, and Mildred Natwick were Forsythe’s co-stars.
Television became his mainstay, though he’d venture into the world of feature films every now and then, e.g., Kitten with a Whip (1965), with Ann-Margret; the (laughable) melodrama Madame X (1966), with Lana Turner; and, in a supporting role, Richard Brooks’ well-respected In Cold Blood (1967).
Forsythe’s best big-screen performance was probably his corrupt judge in Norman Jewison’s … And Justice for All (1979), which Forsythe said led him to be considered for the role of Blake Carrington in Dynasty.
Producer Aaron Spelling’s unwatchably campy series ran 1981-89. Forsythe replaced first choice George Peppard, who quit the show after a few days; his co-stars were Joan Collins, playing Carrington’s meanie ex-wife, Alexis Colby, and Linda Evans.
Also worthy of note, Forsythe provided the voice of the unseen Charlie in Charlie’s Angels, telling Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, and Jaclyn Smith where all the action would be.