John Forsythe (born John Lincoln Freund; January 29, 1918) is an
American stage, television and film actor. John starred in three television
series, spanning three decades, as single playboy father Bentley Gregg in the
1950s sitcom Bachelor Father (1957–1962); as the unseen millionaire Charles
Townsend on the popular 1970s crime drama Charlie's Angels (1976–1981), and as
ruthless and beloved patriarch Blake Carrington on the popular 1980s soap opera
Dynasty (1981–1989). He hosted World of Survival during the 1970s. John
currently appears each year to read children's fiction during the annual
Christmas program near his retirement home at the rural resort community of
Solvang, California, north of Los Angeles.
Forsythe, oldest of three children, was born John Lincoln Freund in Penns Grove, New Jersey, the son of Blanche Materson (née Blohm) and Samuel Jeremiah Freund, who was a stockbroker. He was raised in Brooklyn, New York where his father worked as a Wall Street businessman during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
At only sixteen years of age, John graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn and began attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1936 at the age of eighteen, he took a job as the announcer at Ebbets Field Stadium in Brooklyn, New York, confirming a childhood love of baseball.
Despite showing initial reluctance, John began an acting career at the suggestion of his father. He met actress Parker McCormick (December 1918 - July 1980) and the couple married in 1939; they had a son, Dall (born in 1943), but soon divorced.
As a bit player for Warner Brothers, John successfully appeared in several small parts. As a result he was given a small role in Destination Tokyo (1943). Leaving his movie career for service in World War II, he appeared in the U.S. Army Air Forces play and film Winged Victory, then worked with injured soldiers who had developed speech problems.
Also in 1943, John met Julie Warren, initially a theatre companion but later a successful actress in her own right, landing a role on Broadway in Around the World in 80 Days. Warren became Forsythe's second wife and in the early 1950s the marriage produced two daughters - Page and Brooke.
In 1947, John joined the initial class of the soon-to-be prestigious Actors Studio, where he met other promising young actors including Marlon Brando and Julie Harris. During this time he appeared on Broadway in Mister Roberts and The Teahouse of the August Moon.
In 1955, Alfred Hitchcock cast John in the movie The Trouble with Harry, with Shirley MacLaine in her first movie appearance. The film was unsuccessful at the box office, and John found high profile movie work harder to find.
In 1957, took a leading role in the situation comedy Bachelor Father for CBS as Bentley Gregg, a playboy lawyer who has to become a father to his niece Kelly (played by Noreen Corcoran), upon the death of her biological parents. The show was an immediate rating hit and moved to NBC the following season and to ABC in the fall of 1961.
On various episodes John worked with such up-and-coming actresses as Mary Tyler Moore, Barbara Eden, Donna Douglas, Sally Kellerman, Sue Ane Langdon, and Linda Evans (who immediately formed a crush on the much older actor). During the 1961 season, Bachelor Father moved to ABC, but was cancelled that season because of declining ratings.
In the early 1960s, John returned to acting in movies including Kitten with a Whip (1964) and In Cold Blood (1967). John Forsythe also attempted two new television programs: The John Forsythe Show on NBC with Guy Marks, Elsa Lanchester, Ann B. Davis, Peggy Lipton, and Forsythe's two young daughters, Page and Brooke. (1965–1966) and To Rome with Love on CBS (1969–1971) with co-star Walter Brennan. Between 1971 and 1977, John served as narrator on the syndicated nature series, The World of Survival. He was also the announcer for Michelob beer commercials from the 70s through about 1985, notably during the "Weekends were made for Michelob" era.
John began a 13-year association with Aaron Spelling in 1976, cast in the role of a mysterious unseen millionaire and private investigator Charles Townsend in the crime drama Charlie's Angels (1976-1981). Townsend's voice is heard over a speaker phone, instructing the eponymous Angels of their mission for the episode. Charlie's Angels was a huge success, much as Bachelor Father had been before, and was exported to over 90 countries. John quickly became the highest paid actor on television.
During this period, John invested a lot of money in thoroughbred racing, a personal hobby. Gaining respect with the celebrity thoroughbred circuit, he has served on the Board of Directors at the Hollywood Park Racetrack since 1972, and has been on the committee for more than 25 years.
Following heart problems, John underwent quadruple bypass surgery in 1979. This was so successful that he safely returned to work on Charlie's Angels, and also appeared in the courtroom drama ...And Justice for All later that year. By 1980, Charlie's Angels was starting to decline in ratings, but John remained under contract to Spelling.
In 1981, nearing the end of Charlie's Angels, John was selected as a last minute replacement for George Peppard in the role of conniving patriarch Blake Carrington in Dynasty. Another Aaron Spelling production, Dynasty was ABC's answer to the highly successful CBS series Dallas. Between 1985 and 1987, John also appeared as Blake Carrington in the short-lived spin-off series The Colbys.
Dynasty was a hit for John and proved his most successful role yet. John and his character became pop culture icons of the 1980s, making him one of Hollywood's leading men and sex symbols. The series explored real-life and fictionalized topics including family feuds, foreign revolutionary gunplay, illegitimate children, sex, drugs, and featured lavish lifestyles and glamorous clothes.
The series reunited John with Bachelor Father guest star Linda Evans, who had replaced Angie Dickinson to play Blake's compassionate and caring younger wife Krystle. The chemistry between John and Evans was apparent and as the principal married couple on the show, the two appeared on numerous talk and news magazine shows. During the run of the series, Forsythe, Evans and Collins promoted the Dynasty line of fragrances.
Dynasty came to an end in 1989, after a total of nine seasons, with John being the only actor to appear in all 220 episodes.
John was nominated for Emmy awards three times between 1982 and 1984 for "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series" but each time failed to win. He was also nominated six times for Golden Globes, winning twice. He was nominated five times for the Soap Opera Digest Awards, also winning twice. During this time, John celebrated his 45th wedding anniversary.
In 1992, after a three-year absence, John returned to series television starring in Norman Lear's situation comedy, The Powers That Be for NBC. The show wasn’t a ratings winner and was swiftly cancelled after only one year.
On August 15, 1994, John's wife of 51 years, the former Julie Warren, died aged 74 in hospital after he made the difficult decision to turn off her life-support system. She had been in a coma following severe breathing difficulties. In 2002, John married businesswoman Nicole Carter, twenty-two years his junior. John has one son, two daughters, six grandchildren and four great-grandchildren from his previous marriages.
John reprised his role as Charlie for the film version of Charlie's Angels (2000) and its sequel Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003), but is now retired from acting. Besides spending time with his family, he now enjoys ownership of an art gallery.
In 2005 actor Bartholomew John portrayed John in Dynasty: The Making of a Guilty Pleasure, a fictionalized television movie based on the creation and behind the scenes production of Dynasty.
On May 2, 2006, John appeared with Dynasty co-stars Linda Evans, Joan Collins, Pamela Sue Martin, Al Corley, Gordon Thomson and Catherine Oxenberg in Dynasty Reunion: Catfights & Caviar. The one-hour reunion special of the former ABC series aired on CBS.
It was announced that John was being treated for colorectal cancer on October 13, 2006. However, he was discharged from hospital in a month.
This John Forsythe Biography Page is Copyright © 2004 - 2009 Chuck Ayoub