Sunday, January 24, 2016

John Anderson

Even though he played Abraham Lincoln in three different feature films, as well as having roles in movies that range from Psycho to Eight Men Out, John Anderson's best work survives on the small screen. However, unless you are looking for him or catch his name in the credits, you may not realize you are watching the same actor from role to role.

Versatile is an understatement when trying to describe this wonderful talent. From the 1950's until his death in 1992, John Anderson went from television good guy to bad guy so many times one would need more than a chart to track his every role. There are so many levels to any one of his performances it's hard to believe that each one is vastly different from the next.

For example, watch a few seasons of the The Rifleman and see if you can spot him from role to role. In that series, he was usually cast as the villain where each character not only sounded, but looked different as well. Then watch a few seasons of the Twilight Zone and see all of the good characters he played over the years like the angel Gabriel in the episode A Passage for Trumpet or the captain of the airplane that can't find the present time in The Odyssey of Flight 33 and you will find yourself rubbing your eyes and scratching your head in disbelief  that this is the same actor.

You'll find a lot of westerns on his resume from Have Gun Will Travel to Gunsmoke just to name a few and watching those old shows you'll get the feel that he was typecast in that genre. Then you may catch him in an episode of Rat Patrol or Quincy, M.D. and you will soon realize the scope of his talents and why John Anderson was impossible to typecast because he was never the same. That's the mark of a real actor. And sadly, a Not Very Famous one.


  1. I never took to Anderson. Maybe because he was exceptional at playing sleazy bad guys. He was so good at being bad it was difficult accepting him as a good guy. Even when he played Abraham Lincoln. I always though there was a catch.

    1. Tom I first noticed him on the Twilight Zone playing good guys, so the first time I saw him do evil, I was quite surprised. I guess I'm just the opposite, having seen him play good, I keep waiting for redemption in his villains.

  2. This shows how first impressions solidify how we think of an actor for years.

  3. He was in a memorable episode of Star Trek TNG, as well!