"If you were playing a part where you were shot and killed and didn't move and you stayed still during that period when you were supposed to be lying down, then you were a genius. Because the instinct was that you were finished and you ran across the set to another scene. So, technically I was perfect. As an actor, less than perfect."
About This Interview
In his two-and-a-half hour Archive interview, John Forsythe (1918-2010) speaks of his extensive live television work and his series role as Bentley Gregg on Bachelor Father. He then chronicles his work on two other series, The John Forsythe Show and To Rome with Love, as well as numerous made-for-television movie roles. He also discusses his voice-only role as Charlie on Charlie's Angels and his role as Blake Carrington, the patriarch of the popular long-running series, Dynasty, opposite actresses Linda Evans and Joan Collins. Don Carleton conducted the interview in Los Olivos, CA on July 24, 2000.
With his tanned, handsome mein, silver hair and urbane style, John Forsythe has been a recognizable television personality associated with suavity and upper-class elegance since the 1950s. He has made his mark chiefly in debonair paternal parts in several long-running television series. The actor's distinctive voice and precise diction have also served him well, particularly in parts where the actor was never seen on screen, as in the 1970s Aaron Spelling hit Charlie's Angels, in which Forsythe voiced the role of Charlie Townsend, the eponymous employer of a trio of female detectives.
Forsythe's first roles in fact permitted him to hone and showcase his vocal talents. After studying at the University of North Carolina, he began his career as a sports announcer for the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field and then segued into acting in radio soap operas. Subsequent appearances on Broadway led to a motion picture contract with Warner Brothers and a Hollywood debut with Cary Grant in the film Destination Tokyo.
After World War II Forsythe went on to starring roles in a number of Broadway productions. While still in New York, he appeared in many of the live television shows based there, such as Studio One, Kraft Theatre, Robert Montgomery Presents, and Schlitz Playhouse of Stars. He subsequently moved to Los Angeles and took a starring role as a playboy Hollywood attorney responsible for raising his orphaned niece in the television series Bachelor Father which was broadcast from 1957 to 1962. Forsythe was nominated for an Emmy for his first television role as a father figure, and he would be nominated again for his portrayal of the head of the Carrington clan in the hit show Dynasty in the 1980s.
ABC's answer to hit CBS show Dallas, Dynasty featured Forsythe in the role of patriarch Blake Carrington, head of a wealthy Denver family, plagued by a scheming ex-wife, a bisexual son, and other tribulations. The show, which ran roughly in tandem with the Reagan era, was known for its opulent atmosphere, lavish sets and costumes and typical preoccupation with the problems of the wealthy ranging from murder and greed to lust and incest. The show, which hit its ratings peak in 1984-85, solidified Forsythe's "nice guy" image even in the role of a ruthless oil magnate, exploring plot lines focusing on his emotional reactions in opposition to Joan Collins' villainy, his son's sexuality, and his attempts to maintain the family. Blake Carrington even pitched his own line of cologne in advertisements featuring his love for his wife who, in a commercial narrative extending from Dynasty, had the fragrance designed for him.
Forsythe won two Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor in a Dramatic Television Series for his work in Dynasty. Since the series ended in 1989 he has recreated his role as Blake Carrington in a reunion show and appeared as the on-camera host for I Witness Video. He also starred in a 1992-93 series, a political satire sitcom called The Powers That Be.
JOHN FORSYTHE (John Lincoln Freund). Born in Penn's Grove, New Jersey, U.S.A., 29 January, 1918. Educated at the University of North Carolina and the New York Actor's Studio. Married: 1) Parker McCormick (divorced), children: Dall; 2) Julie Warren (died 1994), children: Page and Brooke. Served in U.S. Army Air Corps. Public address announcer, Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field; appeared in radio soap operas; acted on stage since early 1940s, actor in films since 1944; actor on television since 1947; host of Hollywood Park Feature Race, 1971-74. Member: United Nations Association; American National Theatre and Academy; American Cancer Society. Recipient: Golden Globe Awards, 1983, 1984. Address: 1560 Bellagio Road, Los Angeles, California 90049.
1957-62 Bachelor Father 1965-66 The John Forsythe Show 1971 To Rome With Love 1970-82 World of Survival 1976-81 Charlie's Angels (voice) 1981-89 Dynasty 1992 The Powers That Be 1993-94 I Witness Video
1964 See How They Run 1968 Shadow of the Land 1971 Murder Once Removed 1973 The Letters 1973 Lisa: Bright and Dark 1974 Cry Panic 1974 The Healers 1974 Terror on the 40th Floor 1975 The Deadly Tower 1976 Amelia Earhart 1977 Tail Gunner Joe 1977 Never Con a Killer 1978 Cruise Into Terror 1978 The Users 1978 With This Ring 1980 A Time of Miracle 1981 Sizzle 1982 The Mysterious Two 1987 On Fire 1990 Opposites Attract 1991 Dynasty: The Reunion
Destination Tokyo, 1944; The Captive City, 1952; It Happens Every Thursday, 1953; The Glass Web, 1952; Escape from Fort Bravo, 1953; The Trouble with Harry, 1956; The Ambassador's Daughter, 1956; The Captive City, 1962; Kitten With a Whip, 1964; Madame X, 1966; In Cold Blood, 1968; Topaz, 1969; The Happy Ending, 1970; Goodbye e Amen, 1977; And Justice For All, 1979; Scrooged, 1988; Stan and George's New Life, 1991.
Dick Whittington and his Cat, 1939; Vickie, 1942; Yankee Point, 1942; Winged Victory, 1943; Yellowjack, 1945; Woman Bites Dog, 1946; All My Sons, 1947; It Takes Two, 1947; Mister Roberts, 1950; The Teahouse of the August Moon, 1953; Detective Story, 1955; Weekend, 1968; The Caine Mutiny Court Martial, 1971; Sacrilege, 1995.