John Ireland (actor)
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from the trailer for
Vengeance Valley (1951)
|Born||John Benjamin Ireland
January 30, 1914
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
|Died||March 21, 1992
Santa Barbara, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Santa Barbara Cemetery, Santa Barbara|
|Spouse(s)||Elaine Sheldon Rosen (1940-48) (divorced) 2 children
Joanne Dru (1949-57) (divorced)
Daphine Myrick Cameron (1962-92) (his death) 1 child
John Benjamin Ireland (January 30, 1914 – March 21, 1992) was a Canadian actor and film director.
Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada he lived in New York City from the age of 18. He started out in minor stage roles on Broadway. A tall, lean former professional swimmer who once performed in a water carnival, he appeared on Broadway and toured in Shakespeare in the late 1930s and early 1940s before entering film in the mid-1940s.
He made his screen-debut as Private Windy, the thoughtful letter-writing GI, in the 1945 war film A Walk in the Sun. This was followed by Wake Up and Dream in 1946. A supporting actor in several notable Westerns including John Ford's My Darling Clementine (1946) and Howard Hawks' 1948 film Red River (the scene between Ireland and Montgomery Clift, where they compare guns and take each other's measure by "walking" a can across the ground with their revolver shots, is a film classic). Having a lead in small noirs like Railroaded! (1947), Ireland was nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for his forceful performance as Jack Burden, the hard-boiled newspaper reporter who evolves from devotee to cynical denouncer of demagogue Willie Stark (Broderick Crawford) in All the King's Men (1949), making him the first Vancouver-born actor to receive an Academy Award nomination.
Occasionally his name was mentioned in tabloids of the times, in connection with much younger starlets, namely Natalie Wood, Barbara Payton, and Sue Lyon. He attracted controversy by dating 16-year-old actress Tuesday Weld when he was 45.
A prolific performer in films and early television, Ireland had made the transition to supporting roles by the mid-1950s, playing cynical villains in films like Vengeance Valley (1951), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957). He had a large supporting part in 55 Days at Peking (1963) under Charlton Heston. He also starred as an innocent man-on-the-run in the 1955 original The Fast and the Furious and had a key role as the gladiator Crixus in the Stanley Kubrick 1960 spectacle Spartacus, co-starring with Kirk Douglas.
In 1959, Ireland appeared as Chris Slade, with Karl Swenson as Ansel Torgin, in the episode "The Fight Back" of the NBC western series, Riverboat. In the storyline, Tom Fowler (Tom Laughlin), the boss of the corrupt river town of Hampton near Vicksburg, Mississippi, blocks farmers from shipping their crops to market. In a dispute over a wedding held on the Enterprise, a lynch-mob led by Fowler comes after series lead-character Grey Holden (Darren McGavin). Karl Swenson also was cast in this episode.
From 1960–1962 he starred in the British television series The Cheaters, playing John Hunter, a claims investigator for an insurance company who tracked down cases of fraud. By the mid-1960s, he was seen as the star of B-movies such as I Saw What You Did, In 1965, he played role of Jed Colby, a trail scout in Rawhide on American television. This was the last season for Rawhide.
In 1967, he appeared on NBC's Bonanza with Michael Landon in the episode "Judgement at Red Creek". A few years later he again appeared with Landon on Little House on the Prairie as a drunk who saves Carrie Ingalls, who had fallen down an abandoned mine shaft.
Ireland was seen in Italian productions like The House of the Seven Corpses (1974), Salon Kitty (1976) and Satan's Cheerleaders (1977). He did, however, also appear in big-budget fare such as The Adventurers (1970), also as a police lieutenant in the Robert Mitchum private-eye story Farewell, My Lovely. He was seen in the War of the Worlds episode "Eye for an Eye" in 1988.
Ireland regularly returned to the stage throughout his career and co-directed two features in the 1950s: the acclaimed western drama Hannah Lee (1953) and the carjacking B-movie The Fast and the Furious.
He was married to:
- Elaine Sheldon (1940–49), by whom he had two sons, John and Peter
- Joanne Dru (1949–57)
- Daphne Myrick Cameron (from 1962 until his death), with whom he had a daughter.
In his later years, he owned a restaurant, Ireland's, in Santa Barbara, California.
Death/Hollywood Walk of Fame
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