Sunday, July 26, 2020

Saxon Checks Out

American “tough guy” actor John Saxon (born Carmine Orrico), who died from pneumonia yesterday at age 83, seems to be best-remembered by obituary writers for his performances in the films Enter the Dragon (1973) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). Deadline notes that Saxon “won a Golden Globe in 1958 as Most Promising Newcomer Male” and “was nominated for the 1966 Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe opposite Marlon Brando in The Appaloosa.”

Yet the list of credits for his television work extend well beyond what he was able to accomplish on the silver screen.

Saxon’s résumé page on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) shows him having been featured in myriad small-screen crime dramas, from Burke’s Law, It Takes a Thief, and The Name of the Game to Ironside, Banyon, Banacek, The Rockford Files, Hardcastle and McCormick, and Murder, She Wrote. He also had a starring role as surgeon Theodore Stuart in a rotating segment of NBC’s The Bold Ones (1969-1973), and he co-starred with Gene Barry in another NBC product, the 1968 spy/adventure pilot film Istanbul Express, written by Columbo creators Richard Levinson and William Link.

Another Saxon TV flick I remember far better, however, was 1974’s Planet Earth. It was actually the second pilot for a weekly ABC science-fiction drama, created by Gene Roddenberry. (The previous try-out had been 1973’s Genesis II, starring Alex Cord). Set in the year 2133, Planet Earth was kind of like a ground-bound Star Trek, sending out a team of scientists—led by Saxon’s Dylan Hunt (a man from the 1970s, revived from suspended animation)—to explore the disconnected, disparate, and often unusual remnants of human society left behind by a devastating nuclear war decades before. Unfortunately, ABC declined to pick that show up as part of its programming roster. Despite this track record, a third pilot was shot, 1975’s far inferior Strange New World, again with Saxon in the lead (but with little Roddenberry involvement); predictably, it failed as well.

It’s been reported that John Saxon was married for the third time and living in Tennessee at the time of his demise.

READ MORE:Godspeed, John Saxon,” by Terence Towles Canote
(A Shroud of Thoughts).

1 comment:

Craig said...

As soon as I heard he had died, my first thought was his terrific guest-starring role on the episode of "The Rockford Files" titled "A Portrait of Elizabeth." That's the kind of indelible impression he made with that performance.