John Howard (American actor)

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For other people of the same name, see John Howard (disambiguation).
John Howard
John Howard (Actor).jpg
Born John Richard Cox, Jr.
(1913-04-14)April 14, 1913
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Died February 19, 1995(1995-02-19) (aged 81)
Santa Rosa, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Heart failure
Alma mater Case Western Reserve University
Years active 1934-78
Spouse(s) Eva Ralf (?-1995; his death)
Children 4

John Howard (April 14, 1913 – February 19, 1995) was an American actor noted for his work in both film and television.

Early life[edit]

Born John Richard Cox, Jr. in Cleveland, Ohio, he was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of what is now Case Western Reserve University. At college he discovered a love for the theater, and took part in student productions.


Eventually, Howard became a contract player for Paramount, working in a dozen pictures before getting his first big role as Ronald Colman's younger brother in Lost Horizon.[1] He soon took over for Colman in the Bulldog Drummond series of films, starring in seven of the features (1937–39), and maintaining the film version of the detective. Howard's next major assignment was as Katharine Hepburn's fiancé in The Philadelphia Story (1940), competing for her attention with both Cary Grant and James Stewart.

Military service[edit]

He served in the Navy during World War II, eventually as Executive Officer aboard a minesweeper USS YMS-24 where he participated in landing operations at Sicily, Salerno, Anzio, and deception operations against Sardinia and Southern France.[2] When his vessel struck a mine off the French coast in August, 1944, killing the captain and severely damaging the ship, Howard took over command and fought to save his ship and crew, even jumping into the sea to save several wounded sailors.[citation needed] For his actions he was awarded both the US Navy Cross and the French Croix de Guerre.

Return to acting[edit]

Upon his return to Hollywood, Howard was given the lead in smaller projects, but limited to supporting roles in feature pictures. Even his performance as Laraine Day's husband in The High and the Mighty (1954) did not generate any opportunities to break the pattern. Howard made his Broadway debut in Hazel Flagg in 1953, where he met his future wife, ballerina and actress Eva Ralf.

Howard then played the lead in two American television series Dr. Hudson's Secret Journal and later Adventures of the Sea Hawk in 1958.

He found a friendship with Fred MacMurray, star of My Three Sons, and was a regular guest star on the show, playing Fred MacMurray's boss. He became one of the first screen actors to commit to working in the new field of television[who?] and continued to make occasional film appearances until the mid-1970s. Early in 1961, he guest starred as Captain Chilcoath in the episode "Rebellion at Blazing Rock" of the 17-week NBC series, The Americans.

Career change to education[edit]

In time, Howard moved into academia. He taught English at Highland Hall Waldorf School for more than twenty years and helped to start the high school program at the institution.


He died in 1995 of heart failure, aged 81, in Santa Rosa, California, survived by his wife and their four children. He was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Partial filmography[edit]

Film Year Role Notes
Thirteen Hours by Air 1935 Freddie Scott
Valiant Is the Word for Carrie 1936 Paul Darnley
Lost Horizon 1937 George Conway
Hitting a New High 1937 Jimmy James
Penitentiary 1938 William Jordan
Arrest Bulldog Drummond 1939 Capt. Hugh Drummond Lead
Bulldog Drummond's Bride 1939 Capt. Hugh Drummond Lead
The Man from Dakota 1940 Lt. Oliver Clark
The Texas Rangers 1940 James Kingston aka Pecos Kid Lead
The Philadelphia Story 1940 George Kittredge
The Invisible Woman 1940 Richard Russell
The Mad Doctor 1941 Gil Sawyer
Tight Shoes 1941 Jimmy Rupert Lead
Father Takes a Wife 1941 Frederic Osborne Junior
Three Girls About Town 1941 Tommy Hopkins
A Tragedy at Midnight 1942 Greg Sherman Lead
The Man Who Returned to Life 1942 David Hampton Jameson/George Bishop Lead
Submarine Commander 1942 Commander Chris Warren Lead
Isle of Missing Men 1942 Merrill Hammond Lead
The Undying Monster 1942 Oliver Hammond
Love from a Stranger 1947 Nigel Lawrence
I, Jane Doe 1948 William Hilton
The Fighting Kentuckian 1949 Blake Randolph
Make Haste to Live 1954 Josh Blake
The High and the Mighty 1954 Howard Rice
Capone 1975 Warden J. Johnston last film


  1. ^ Weaver, Tom John Howard Interview Science Fiction Stars and Horror Heroes: Interviews with Actors, Directors, Producers and Writers of the 1940s Through 1960s McFarland, 2006
  2. ^ St. Petersburg Times - Feb 15, 1957


  • Wise, James. Stars in Blue: Movie Actors in America's Sea Services. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1997. ISBN 1557509379 OCLC 36824724

External links[edit]