John Ashley (actor)
Ashley in 1962
December 25, 1934
Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.
|Died||October 3, 1997
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
|Resting place||Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills)|
|Education||Will Rogers High School|
|Alma mater||Oklahoma State University|
|Spouse(s)||Deborah Walley (m. 1964–66)
Jan Ashley (m.?–1997, his death)
John Ashley (December 25, 1934 – October 3, 1997) was an American actor, producer and singer. He was best known for his work as an actor in films for American International Pictures, producing and acting in horror movies shot in the Philippines, and for producing various television series, including The A-Team.
Born John Atchley, he was reared in Oklahoma and attended Will Rogers High School in Tulsa and Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, where he studied a BA in Economics. While a student, Ashley visited a friend in California and accompanied him to the set of The Conqueror (1956). He was seen by John Wayne who was impressed with the young man's good looks and guided him to a role on TV's Men of Annapolis.
Ashley broke into films when he accompanied a girlfriend to an audition at American International Pictures for a part in Dragstrip Girl (1957). Lou Rusoff asked him if he wanted to audition as well and he ended up getting the part. AIP signed him to a four-picture non-exclusive contract expected to run for two years.
Ashley was a particular favorite of the daughters of James H. Nicholson, one of the main figures at American International Pictures, who always hoped he would become a big star. Ashley unsuccessfully auditioned for the lead in I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957) but appeared in several of AIP's other movies. His second role for the studio, Motorcycle Gang (1957), was almost identical to Dragstrip Girl. By this stage Ashley had been drafted and production was held up until he completed his basic training.
AIP wanted Ashley to make a film called Hot Rod Girl. He was offered a part on the TV series Matinee Theatre and asked for the movie to be postponed so he could take it. However, Samuel Arkoff of AIP refused, and got an injunction preventing Ashley from appearing on TV. "I never really forgave him for that," said Ashley.
Ashley was one of the only AIP lead actors who made the transition from juvenile delinquent movies to beach party films when he was cast as Frankie Avalon's best friend in a series of movies starting with Beach Party (1963) (which led to AIP signing him on another multi-picture contract).
In 1959, Ashley was cast in the episode "Elkton Lake Feud" of the syndicated western television series, Frontier Doctor, starring Rex Allen. In the story line, two families for years quarrel over the ownership of the lake, and only three individuals remain when a judge hands down the critical decision.
From 1961 to 1962, Ashley was cast in a co-starring role with the late Brian Kelly on the ABC adventure series, Straightaway, set about an automobile mechanic shop and often focusing on the sport of drag racing.
In the late 1960s, Ashley received an offer to make a film in the Philippines. As his first marriage had just broken up, he was keen to get out of the country and accepted. He made Brides of Blood for producer Eddie Romero, then returned to Oklahoma where he ran some theaters. A distributor friend of Ashley's found success screening Brides of Blood and suggested that Ashley return to the Philippines to make additional similar movies. Ashley agreed and returned there to film The Mad Doctor of Blood Island and Beast of Blood as an actor and producer. This began a long-running association with the Philippines and producer Eddie Romero. Ashley eventually started financing these movies, as well as acting as Philippines liaison for movies like The Big Doll House and Apocalypse Now. He then returned to the US in order to concentrate on his theater interests and move into American production work.
Ashley went on to produce such series as The A-Team, NBC's The Quest, and CBS's Walker, Texas Ranger. His voice can be heard as the narrator in the opening title sequence of The A-Team during the show's first four seasons.
Ashley married actress Deborah Walley in 1962. They had one son, Anthony Ashley, before they divorced. Ashley later married his second wife, Nancy Moore, and had a son, Cole Ashley. He later remarried to his third wife, Jan Ashley. The couple remained married until John's death.
- Dragstrip Girl (1957)
- Motorcycle Gang (1957)
- Zero Hour! (1957)
- Frankenstein's Daughter (1958)
- How to Make a Monster (1958)
- Hot Rod Gang (1958)
- Suicide Battalion (1958)
- High School Caesar (1960)
- Hud (1963)
- Beach Party (1963)
- Muscle Beach Party (1964)
- Bikini Beach (1964)
- The Eye Creatures (1965)
- Sergeant Deadhead (1965)
- Beach Blanket Bingo (1965)
- How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965)
- Young Dillinger (1965)
- Hell on Wheels (1967)
- Brides of Blood (1968)
- Manila, Open City (1968)
- The Mad Doctor of Blood Island (1968)
- Deserter USA (1969)
- Beast of Blood (1971) - also producer
- Beast of the Yellow Night (1971) - also producer
- The Big Doll House (1971) - associate producer only
- The Woman Hunt (1972) - also producer
- The Twilight People (1972) - also producer
- Black Mama, White Mama (1972) - producer only
- Beyond Atlantis (1973) - also producer
- Savage Sisters (1974) - also producer
- Black Mamba (1974) - also producer
- Smoke in the Wind (1975)
- Sudden Death (1977)
- Apocalypse Now (1979) - assoc producer only
- Coach of the Year (1980) (TV movie) - producer only
- Will: G. Gordon Liddy (1982) (TV movie) - producer only
- The A-Team (1983–86) (TV series) - executive producer, narrator
- The Quest (1982) (TV series) - producer
- Werewolf (1987) - executive producer only
- Something Is Out There (1988) (TV series) - producer only
- Hardball (1989) (TV series) - producer only
- Raven (1992) (TV series) - executive producer only
- Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1993) (TV movie) - producer only
- Walker, Texas Ranger (1993–94) (TV series) - executive producer only
- Marker (1995) (TV series) - producer only
- Invisible Mom (1997) (voice only)
- Lawless (1997) (TV series) - producer only
- Scar City (1998) - producer only
- Men of Annapolis (1957)
- Jefferson Drum (1958)
- The Deputy (1959)
- The Millionaire (1960)
- Death Valley Days (1961)
- Straightaway (1961–62)
- Wagon Train (1960–63)
- Petticoat Junction (1963)
- The Beverly Hillbillies (1963–67)
- Dr Kildare (1964)
- The Wild Wild West (1966) (TV series)
- Thorns of Bonaparte (1967)
- Tom Lisanti, Hollywood Surf and Beach Movies: The First Wave, 1959-1969, McFarland 2005, p353-354
- Mark McGee, Faster and Furiouser: The Revised and Fattened Fable of American International Pictures, McFarland, 1996 p134
- 'Calypso Joe' Exploits New Craze; Cameron, Mary Murphy to Costar Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 30 Jan 1957: C7.
- Herman Cohen, producer of Werewolf does say that Ashley never auditioned. See Tom Weaver, "Interview with Herman Cohen" accessed 17 December 2012
- Gary A. Smith , American International Pictures: The Golden Years, Bear Manor Media, 2013 p 82
- Grand Guignol Set at Vine St. Cabaret: Huston 'Sells' Kipling Yarn; Sinatra, AIP Think Young Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 12 July 1963: D11.
- Obituary in Los Angeles Times 10 October 1997 accessed 17 December 2012
- ""Elkton Lake Feud", May 16, 1959". Internet Movie Data Base. Retrieved February 11, 2013.
- Billboard - 3 Nov 1958 "Dot's Randy Wood is recording four sides with singer-actor John Ashley to bring Wood's personal a.&r. tally to the 80-side level during the past two weeks. "
- Billboard - 8 Dec 1958 - Page 36 "JOHN ASHLEY My Story DOT 15878— John Ashley sells this ballad about young love with fervor accompanied by a vocal group and real beat. A strong side by the lad that could step out. "
- Weaver p41
- Weaver p43
- Scott, Vernon (April 25, 1968). "Divorcee Deborah Walley In No Hurry To Remarry". Hawkins County Post. p. 2. Retrieved December 23, 2012.
- Caitlyn Ashley, John Ashley's granddaughter
- Lentz, Harris M. (1997). Obituaries in the Performing Arts. McFarland. p. 9.
- Senta to Play Secret Agent Betty. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 22 Apr 1967: 19.
- Weaver, Tom, "Interview with John Ashley", Interviews with B Science Fiction and Horror Movie Makers: Writers, Producers, Directors, Actors, Moguls and Makeup, McFarland 1988
- John Ashley at the Internet Movie Database
- John Ashley at AllMovie
- John Ashley at Find a Grave
- John Ashley at Brian's Drive In Theatre
- John Ashley at TCMDB
- Fred Olen Ray, 'Remembering John Ashley', The Astounding B Monster Archive