John Forsythe: From Alfred Hitchcock to 'Dynasty'

John Forsythe Dynasty Joan Collins Linda Evans
John Forsythe in Dynasty with Joan Collins and Linda Evans.

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.

The features that followed – Nothing But the Truth with Maureen O'Hara and The Ambassador's Daughter with Olivia de Havilland – didn't help to propel Forsythe's film career to a higher level.

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.

John Forsythe: From Alfred Hitchcock to 'Dynasty' © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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2 Comments to John Forsythe: From Alfred Hitchcock to 'Dynasty'

  1. Norma Haimes Martn

    I grew up in Brooklyn and lived in the very same apartment that Mr. Forsythe lived in when he was young. Neighbors told me that he could be heard reciting Shakespeare. The address is 553 East 2nd Street. Strange how small the world can be… I went on to marry Don Edward Martin (born in New Jersey) who became a world famous cartoonist (CRACKED and MAD Magazines).

  2. Jamaicafest

    RIP, John Forsythe.