In Remembrance: John Randolph
Character actor John Randolph died February 24th at age 88.
Born in the Bronx as Emanuel Hirsch Cohen on July 1, 1915, Randolph was the son of Russian and Romanian immigrants. He began his dramatic career in the 1930ís studying under Stella Adler. He changed his name to the less ethnic sounding John Randolph in 1940 and served in the Army Air Force in WWII. He met his longtime wife Sarah Cunningham in Chicago in 1945 while performing in Orson Welles' stage production of Native Son. Randolph was one of the original members of the Actorís Studio in 1948.
Randolph later made his Hollywood onscreen debut as a police officer (uncredited) in Jules Dassinís 1948 film-noir masterpiece, The Naked City. He also had an uncredited role of a fireman in 1951ís film-noir, Fourteen Hours. However, Randolph was known for his outspoken leftist opinions, and his defense of other accused figures - he fought against the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg - led Randolph and his wife to be blacklisted in the 50ís.
In 1966, director John Frankenheimer crossed the blacklist barriers, casting Randolph in the eerie psychological thriller, Seconds. Randolph played Arthur Hamilton; the frustrated, middle aged man who would do anything to be young again. Rock Hudson played the younger version of Hamilton. Randolph would later go on to co-star opposite Anthony Perkins and Tuesday Weld in 1968ís Pretty Poison.
Randolph had small roles in 1971ís Escape from the Planet of the Apes and 1972ís Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. The following year, director Sydney Lumet cast Randolph as Chief Sidney Green in the riveting cop-drama, Serpico (1973) starring Al Pacino. Randolph appeared onscreen in the 1974 disaster flick Earthquake and voiced John Mitchell in the Redford/Hoffman thriller, All the Presidentís Men (1976). The remake of King Kong (1976), starring Jeff Bridges and Jessica Lange, had Randolph in the role of Captain Ross. He ended the decade with a bit role in Warren Beattyís comedy Heaven Can Wait (1978).
By the 80ís and 90ís Randolph was doing more work for television, but did have a few memorable roles in Hollywood films. He played Jack Nicholsonís father in director John Hustonís comedic drama Prizziís Honor (1985) and Chevy Chaseís father in National Lampoonís Christmas Vacation (1989). However, Randolph is most remembered for playing the grandfather, Schuyler Fox, to Tom Hanksí character in Nora Ephronís 1998 romantic comedy, Youíve Got Mail.
Randolph also appeared on many of televisionís best shows of the time, including Mannix, Mission Impossible and Bonanza. He had recurring roles in the 80ís primetime soaps Dallas and Dynasty, and played the recurring role of Roseanne Barrís father on the popular sitcom Roseanne. Randolph was well-known for his roles in TV movies, like 1974ís The Missiles of October, and 1977ís Tail Gunner Joe, a movie about his political archrival, General McCarthy. Randolph was never awarded for his work as a character actor. In 1987 Randolph won a Tony Award for his work in Neil Simonís Broadway Bound.