John Anderson
John Anderson The Virginian.JPG
Anderson in The Virginian, 1960s
John Robert Anderson

(1922-10-20)October 20, 1922
DiedAugust 7, 1992(1992-08-07) (aged 69)
OccupationActor, film director
Years active1950–1992
Patricia A. Cason
(m. 1946; died 1989)

John Robert Anderson (October 20, 1922 – August 7, 1992) was an American character actor who performed in hundreds of stage, film, and television productions during a career that spanned over four decades.

Life and career

Anderson was born and raised in Clayton, Illinois in 1922. Anderson served in the United States Coast Guard during World War II, where he met artist Orazio Fumagalli,[1] who became his lifelong friend. Anderson held a master's degree in drama from the University of Iowa.[2]

An accomplished actor, Anderson started out on Broadway, including an appearance in the musical Paint Your Wagon in 1951.[3] He later worked primarily in film and television.

Standing 6 ft 2 in tall (188 cm), he bore a strong resemblance to U.S. President Abraham Lincoln,[citation needed] whom he portrayed three times. He appeared in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) as "California Charlie", the used car salesman who helps Marion Crane (Janet Leigh). On television, he appeared in such series as The Rockford Files, Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theatre, Gunsmoke, The Rifleman, Laramie, Have Gun – Will Travel , The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Virginian, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, The Californians, Johnny Ringo, Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie, Trackdown, The Big Valley, Tales of Wells Fargo, Emergency!, The Incredible Hulk (1978 TV series), MacGyver and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (episode "Cradle Of The Deep").

Anderson was cast on The Rat Patrol four times (three of those occasions as the same character). He also made three guest appearances on Perry Mason, which include the episodes "The Case of the Calendar Girl" (1959), "The Case of the Bartered Bikini" (1959), and "The Case of the Greek Goddess". In 1961 Anderson appeared as Hassayampa Edwards in the TV western Lawman in the episode titled "Hassayampa." He can also be seen in other series produced in this period, such as Overland Trail, The Tall Man, and The Legend of Jesse James. He portrays an eccentric farmer who jealously guards his prize watermelon with a shotgun in "For the Love of Willadean: A Taste of Melon", a story originally broadcast on Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color in 1964.

Anderson had a recurring role in MacGyver as Harry Jackson, MacGyver's grandfather. Other credits include: Man Without a Gun; Hawaii Five-O; M*A*S*H as Major General Collins, Once an Eagle; Rich Man, Poor Man Book II; Backstairs at the White House; Star Trek: The Next Generation and Dallas. A recurring Twilight Zone actor, he appeared in four different episodes: "The Old Man in the Cave", "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville", "The Odyssey of Flight 33", and "A Passage for Trumpet".[4] He was also The Interrogator on an episode of The Outer Limits titled "Nightmare".

The first release of the 1993 soundtrack album Music from the Television Series Quantum Leap was dedicated to him. He had featured in the fourth season episode "The Last Gunfighter" of that sci-fi series as Pat Knight; the episode had first aired about six months before his death.

Personal life and death

On June 8, 1946, Anderson married Patricia A. Cason in the rectory of St. Boniface Catholic Church. They moved to Iowa City, Iowa, where Anderson studied in the liberal arts college at the University of Iowa and earned his master's degree in drama.[5] Anderson was married to Patricia Ann Cason until her death on February 18, 1989. Three years later, Anderson suffered a fatal heart attack at his home in Sherman Oaks, California, at the age of 69.[2] He was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea as part of his membership in the Neptune Society.[citation needed]

Body of work

Partial filmography


  1. ^ "Orazio Fumagalli",; accessed May 15, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "John Anderson Dies; Character Actor, 69". The New York Times. Associated Press. 1992-08-10. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2010-01-29. Retrieved 2021-03-29.
  3. ^ John Anderson at Internet Broadway Database
  4. ^ Rubin, Steve. "Remembering John Anderson". SyFyWire. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  5. ^ McGinley, Patrick (2013-10-17). "John Anderson: Quincy's greatest character actor". Herald-Whig. Archived from the original on 2021-03-29. Retrieved 2021-03-29.