John Randolph



CCNY and Columbia University alumnus John Randolph was first seen on Broadway in the 1937 opus Revolt of the Beavers. Randolph served in the Air Force in World War II, then resumed what seemed at the time to be an increasingly successful, near-unstoppable acting career. But in 1951, Randolph found himself on a specious "Commie sympathizers" list. After appearing as a hostile witness before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, Randolph was effectively blacklisted from movies, TV and radio commercials for the next twelve years. Fortunately, he could always rely upon the theatre to provide him an income, though it was touch-and-go for a while when a Broadway show in which he was appearing was picketed by anti-Red zealots. Throughout the 1950s, Randolph was featured in such major stage productions as Come Back Little Sheba, The Visit, Sound of Music and Case of Libel. In 1963, he was at long last permitted to guest-star on a network TV program, The Defenders. Appropriately, it was in an episode titled "Blacklist," which condemned the knee-jerk policy of banning artists because of their political views; ironically, Randolph was very nearly denied the part when the network complained that he hadn't been "cleared." Though he'd played a small part in 1948's The Naked City, Randolph's movie career began in earnest in 1965. In John Frankenheimer's Seconds, he was cast as aging businessman Arthur Hamilton, who through the magic of plastic surgery is given a fresh new identity (he emerges from the bandages as Rock Hudson)! Since his career renaissance, Hamilton hasn't stopped working before the cameras. He has been featured in films like Gaily Gaily (1969), Little Murders (1971), King Kong (1976), Heaven Can Wait (1978) Prizzi's Honor (1985; as Pop Prizzi); in TV movies like Wings of Kitty Hawk (1978; as Alexander Graham Bell) and The American Clock (1993); and as a regular in the TV series Angie (1979) Annie McGuire (1988) and Grand (1990). Though he'd probably rather you not mention it, Randolph is a dead ringer for former attorney general John Mitchell; accordingly, he played Mitchell in the TV miniseries Blind Ambition, and was heard but not seen in the same role in the 1976 theatrical feature All the President's Men. Despite the upsurge in his film and TV activities, Randolph has never abandoned the theatre: in 1986, he won a Tony Award for his work in Neil Simon's Broadway Bound. As if to slap the faces of those self-styled patriots who denied him work in the 1950s, Randolph has in recent years accepted the German Democratic Republic's Paul Robeson Award, and has served on the National Council for US-Soviet friendship. John Randolph has also served on the board of directors of all three major performing guilds: SAG, AFTRA and Equity. After taking on a variety of grandfatherly roles, including Jack Nicholson's father in Prizzi's Honor and Tom Hanks' grandfather in You've Got Mail), Randloph passed away at 88-years-old in April of 2004.