Wednesday, September 6, 2023

Who Are Those Guys ~ John Dehner


Supporting and character actor John Dehner, was born John Dehner Forkum in Staten Island, New York on November 23, 1915, the son of a globe-trotting artist. He attended school in France and Norway, in the process learning to speak four languages fluently. Back in the U.S.A., he graduated from high school in New York and proceeded to study for a diploma in art at the University of California. Any plans he might have had of following in his father's footsteps were derailed, however, when the acting bug suddenly took hold. In short order, the cash strapped Dehner relocated to sunny California in search of a job. He worked for a while as a professional pianist and band leader but was then able to finagle a position as an assistant animator with Disney Studios for a salary of $18 a week. Dehner had a hand in several classic feature sequences, including Fantasia” (1940) and “Bambi” (1942), as well as a few Donald Duck and Pluto cartoons. He returned to Disney in later years as a narrator and also played the part of Viceroy Don Esteban in an episode of the TV series ‘Zorro’ (1957).

After leaving the Disney art department, Dehner did a stint as a public relations officer in the army during World War II and then returned to California as a radio announcer and news editor for stations KMPC and KFWB. In the course of many years, Dehner amassed a remarkable series of radio acting credits, most notably starring as Paladin in "Have Gun - Will Travel" and in similarly popular action programmers like "Gunsmoke" and "Fort Laramie" (this, in spite of turning down several offers to play Marshall Matt Dillon on TV because he did not want to be typecast in westerns!). In films from the mid-1940s, Dehner served a lengthy apprenticeship in assorted bit parts before graduating as one of Hollywood's most reliable villains, be they suave gamblers, crooked bankers, grifters or gunslingers. Just as often, his authoritarian demeanor proved perfect casting for stern fathers, military brass or cops. In “The Left-Handed Gun” (1958), Dehner received second billing as Pat Garrett, co-starring opposite Paul Newman's Billy the Kid. On the small screen, he invariably made an impact as guest star in myriad classic TV shows, including ‘Yancy Derringer’ (1958), ‘Tales of Wells Fargo’ (1957), ‘The Roaring 20's’ (1960), ‘Maverick’ (1957), ‘Bronco’ (1958), ‘77 Sunset Strip’ (1958), ‘Rawhide’ (1959) and ‘The Doris Day Show’ (1968) (a regular part during seasons four and five, as Doris's editor Cy Bennett). Dehner appeared in three episodes of ‘The Twilight Zone’ (1959), reserving one of his best performances as the titular huckster in late 1800s Arizona, in the episode "Mr. Garrity and the Graves" (1963).

John Dehner was married to Roma Leonore Meyers [1910-1994] (1941-1970) and the father of actress Kirsten Dehner [1944- ], Sheila A. Dehner [1946- ]. He then married to Evelyn Severance [1927- ] (1973-1992). John Dehner died in Santa Barbara, California, on February 4, 1992 at the age of 76.

DEHNER, John (John Dehner Forkum) [11/23/1915, Richmond, New York City, New York, U.S.A. – 2/4/1992, Santa Barbara, California, U.S.A. (emphysema and diabetes)] – animator, film, radio, TV actor, married to Roma Leonore Meyers [1910-1994] (1941-1970) father of actress Kirsten Dehner [1944-    ], production manager, costumer Sheila A. Dehner [1946-    ], married to Evelyn Severance [1926- ] (1973-1992).

The Canadians – 1961 (Frank Boone)


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