MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) – Actor John Saxon, whose good looks won him not only legions of female fans but also a wide array of roles, has died at his home in Tennessee, according to the Hollywood Reporter. He was 83.
The entertainment news outlet quotes Saxonâ€™s wife, Gloria, as confirming that the actor died of pneumonia on Saturday in Murfreesboro. He was best known for starring with Bruce Lee in â€œEnter the Dragonâ€ and appeared in several â€œNightmare on Elm Streetâ€ movies.
Born Carmine Orrico, the son of Italian-American parents, Saxon grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and began modeling while still a teenager. He then caught the eye of legendary talent agent Henry Willson, who spotted Saxon on the cover of a magazine and brought him to Hollywood. Willson was credited for representing and helping to develop the careers of male stars like Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter, the outlet said.
Then just 17, the aspiring actor signed with Willson, studied dramatics and then flew to Hollywood, where he was signed by Universal. His name was changed to John Saxon.
According to internet movie website IMDB, Saxon appeared in nearly 200 roles in the movies and on television in a career that stretched over seven decades since he made his big screen debut in 1954 in uncredited roles in â€œIt Should Happen to Youâ€ and George Cukorâ€™s â€œA Star Is Born.â€
His striking, angular profile and dark eyes led to roles playing Mexicans, Native Americans and Mongols. Among other characters, Saxon portrayed an Indian chief on the popular TV Western series â€œBonanzaâ€ and Marco Polo on the futuristic hit TV show â€œThe Time Tunnel,â€ according to IMDB.
Actress Barbara Crampton wrote on Twitter that Saxon â€œhad strength and charm, which was a great combination. His strong presence allowed him, with ease to command every role he portrayed.”
In 2017, the Tennessee retirement community where Saxon and his wife lived honored him with a film festival after residents requested screenings of his movies.
Saxon won a Golden Globe for best supporting actor in 1966 for his role alongside Marlon Brando in â€œThe Appaloosa.â€
Speaking of the popularity of the â€œNightmare on Elm Streetâ€ franchise in a 1987 interview, Saxon said, â€œI am intrigued by horror and fantasy-type things because I think it is a way of magnifying some part of the human mind that is exhibited or projected in a highly distorted way.”