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John Forsythe (1918)

John Lincoln Freund

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  Summary  

John Forsythe (born Jacob Lincoln Freund; January 29, 1918 – April 1, 2010) was an American stage, television and film actor. Forsythe starred in three television series, spanning four decades and three genres: as single playboy father Bentley Gregg in the sitcom Bachelor Father (1957–1962); as the unseen millionaire Charles Townsend on the crime drama Charlie's Angels (1976–1981), and as patriarch Blake Carrington on the soap opera Dynasty (1981–1989). He hosted World of Survival (1971–1977).

  Biography  

 early life
The eldest of three children, Forsythe was born as Jacob Lincoln Freund in Penns Grove, New Jersey, to Blanche Materson (née Blohm) and Samuel Jeremiah Freund, 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.

He graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn at the age of 16, and began attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1936 at the age of eighteen, he took a job as the public address announcer for Brooklyn Dodgers games at Ebbets Field, confirming a childhood love of baseball.

 television work
Throughout the 1950s, Forsythe successfully appeared in the new medium and regularly on all the networks, especially as a guest star. For example, during this period, Forsythe notably appeared on the popular anthology Alfred Hitchcock Presents in an engaging episode entitled "Premonition" opposite Cloris Leachman.

 Bachelor Father
In 1957, he 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 , upon the death of her biological parents. The show was an immediate ratings hit and moved to NBC the following season and to ABC in the fall of 1961. On various episodes Forsythe worked with such up-and-coming actresses as Mary Tyler Moore, Barbara Eden, Donna Douglas, Sally Kellerman, Sue Ane Langdon, and a teenaged Linda Evans. During the 1961 season, Bachelor Father moved to ABC, but was cancelled that season due to declining ratings.

 After Bachelor Father
In the early 1960s, Forsythe returned to acting in movies including Kitten with a Whip , Madame X and In Cold Blood . In 1964 he starred in the made for TV Movie See How They Run which is notable for being the first movie made for television. He 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, Forsythe 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.

 Charlie's Angels
Forsythe began a 13-year association with Aaron Spelling in 1976, cast in the role of mysterious unseen millionaire private investigator Charles Townsend in the crime drama Charlie's Angels (1976–1981). The show starred Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith, and Farrah Fawcett, making stars of all three but catapulting Fawcett to iconic status. Forsythe introduces the series' concept during its opening credits:
Once upon a time, three little girls went to the police academy, where they were each assigned very hazardous duties. But I took them away from all that, and now they work for me. My name is Charlie.

On every episode, Forsythe, as Townsend, is heard over a speaker phone, instructing the eponymous Angels on their mission for the episode. Character actor David Doyle played Charlie's on-screen liaison to the Angels, who in later seasons included Cheryl Ladd, Shelley Hack, and Tanya Roberts. Charlie's Angels was a huge success, and was shown in more than 90 countries.

Forsythe became the highest paid actor on television on a per-hour basis: while the show's on-camera stars often worked 15-hour days five days a week, with a couple hours just for hair and makeup, Forsythe's lines for an entire episode would be recorded in a sound studio in a matter of minutes, after which he would have lunch in the network's commissary and then head for the track. During this period, Forsythe invested a lot of money in thoroughbred racing, a personal hobby. Gaining respect with the celebrity thoroughbred circuit, he served on the Board of Directors at the Hollywood Park Racetrack since 1972, and was on the committee for more than 25 years.

Following heart problems, Forsythe underwent quadruple coronary artery bypass surgery in 1979. This was so successful that he not only returned to work on Charlie's Angels, he also appeared in the two-time Academy Award-nominated motion picture ...And Justice for All later that year as Judge Henry T. Fleming, the film's main antagonist, an evil corrupt judge who despises Al Pacino's lawyer character.

 Dynasty
In 1981, nearing the end of Charlie's Angels, Forsythe 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, Forsythe also appeared as Blake Carrington in the short-lived spin-off series The Colbys.

The series reunited Forsythe with one-time Bachelor Father guest star Linda Evans, who would play Blake's wife, Krystle. 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. Forsythe was the only actor to appear in all 220 episodes.

Forsythe was nominated for Emmy awards three times between 1982 and 1984 for "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series" but did not 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.

 The Powers That Be
In 1992, after a three-year absence, Forsythe returned to series television starring in Norman Lear's situation comedy, The Powers That Be for NBC, co-starring Holland Taylor, Peter MacNicol, Valerie Mahaffey and David Hyde-Pierce. He was reunited with one-time co-star Cloris Leachman, who, although eight years his junior, played his mother in one episode. The show was canceled after only one year.

 death
Forsythe died on April 1, 2010, from pneumonia in Santa Ynez, California, at the age of 92.
His widow Nicole died six weeks later. He was interred at Oak Hill Cemetery in Santa Barbara, California.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "John Forsythe", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.