John Beal (actor)

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John Beal
Beal in the trailer for Madame X
James Alexander Bliedung

(1909-08-13)August 13, 1909
DiedApril 26, 1997(1997-04-26) (aged 87)
OccupationFilm, stage and television actor
Years active1931–1993
Spouse(s)Helen Craig (1934–1986) (her death) 2 children

John Beal (born James Alexander Bliedung, August 13, 1909 – April 26, 1997) was an American actor.

Early years[edit]

Beal was born in Joplin, Missouri. His father had a department store and Beal went to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania "mapped for a commercial career."[1] While at Wharton, Beal (who enrolled under his real name, James Alexander Bliedung) spent time drawing cartoons for the school's humor magazine and singing in productions of the Mask and Wig club.[1]


Soon after graduating from college in 1930, Beal began acting with the Hedgerow Theatre. Beal originally went to New York to study art but a chance to understudy in a play made him change his mind. He went on to appear in Russet Mantle and She Loves Me.[1]


Beal began acting in the 1930s, opposite Katharine Hepburn (in the 1934 RKO film The Little Minister),[2] among others; one of his notable screen appearances was as Marius Pontmercy in Les Misérables (1935). He continued appearing in films during the war years while serving in Special Services and the First Motion Picture Unit as actor and director of Army Air Forces camp shows and training films.

Beal had starring roles in the film dramas Alimony (1949) and My Six Convicts (1952).


In the 1950s, Beal also began appearing in various television shows, including the title role of mining engineer Philip Deidesheimer in a 1959 episode of Bonanza, "The Deidesheimer Story".[3]

He was hired to play the role of Jim Matthews in the television soap opera Another World when the show went on the air in 1964, but was fired by creator and headwriter Irna Phillips after only one episode.[4]

He appeared in The Waltons, season 3, episode 13, "The Visitor", first aired in December, 1974. His character was a former neighbor, Mason Beardsley, an elderly man who returned to Waltons Mountain to live with his wife who he was expecting in a few days. The Walton family were excited for him and helped to fix up his home, only to learn that his wife had died a year earlier and, unable to accept this fact, he continued to look for her.

He continued to work in films and television, notably as Judge Vail in the supernatural soap opera Dark Shadows (for 9 episodes), and also the theater up until the 1980s. Beal died at age 87 in Santa Cruz, California,[2] two years after suffering a stroke.

Personal life[edit]

Beal was married to actress Helen Craig.[1] They had two daughters, Theodora Emily and Tandy Johanna.[5]


Year Title Role Notes
1933 Another Language Jerry Hallam
1934 Hat, Coat and Glove Jerry Hutchins
1934 The Little Minister Gavin
1935 Laddie Laddie Stanton
1935 Les Misérables Marius
1935 Break of Hearts Johnny Lawrence
1936 M'Liss Stephen Thorne
1937 We Who Are About to Die John E. 'Johnny' Thompson
1937 The Man Who Found Himself Dr. James Stanton Jr.
1937 Border Cafe Keith Whitney
1937 Madame X Raymond Fleuriot
1937 Double Wedding Waldo Beaver
1937 Danger Patrol Dan Loring
1937 Beg, Borrow or Steal Count Bill Cherau
1938 Port of Seven Seas Marius
1938 I Am the Law Paul Ferguson
1938 The Arkansas Traveler John 'Johnnie' Daniels
1939 The Great Commandment Joel
1939 The Cat and the Canary Fred Blythe
1941 Ellery Queen and the Perfect Crime Walter Matthews
1941 Doctors Don't Tell Dr. Ralph Sawyer
1942 One Thrilling Night Horace Jason
1942 Atlantic Convoy Carl Hansen
1942 Stand By All Networks Ben Fallon
1943 Let's Have Fun Richard Gilbert
1943 Edge of Darkness Johann Stensgard
1947 Key Witness Milton Higby
1947 Messenger of Peace Pastor Armin Ritter
1948 So Dear to My Heart Jeremiah as an Adult - Narrator Voice
1949 Alimony Dan Barker
1949 Song of Surrender Dubois
1949 Chicago Deadline Paul Jean d'Ur
1952 My Six Convicts Dr. Wilson aka Doc
1953 Remains to Be Seen Dr. Glenson
1954 New Faces director of sketches
1957 The Vampire Dr. Paul Beecher
1957 That Night! Commuter Christopher J. Bowden
1959 The Sound and the Fury Howard Compson
1959 Bonanza Philip Diedesheimer Episode: "The Phillip Diedesheimer Story"
1960 Ten Who Dared Maj. John Wesley Powell
1973 The Bride Father
1975 The Legend of Lizzie Borden Dr. Bowen TV movie
1976 The Adams Chronicles Charles Francis Adams 3 episodes
1983 Amityville 3-D Harold Caswell
1993 The Firm Nathan Locke (final film role)


  1. ^ a b c d Francis, Robert (February 17, 1946). "Candid Close-ups". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. New York, Brooklyn. p. 25. Retrieved May 8, 2016 – via open access
  2. ^ a b "John Beal, 87, Actor In Films and Theater". The New York Times. May 1, 1997. Retrieved October 21, 2010.
  3. ^ "The Deidesheimer Story", Bonanza Booomers
  4. ^ "Serial Shakedown". Gettysburg Times. May 12, 1964. Retrieved October 21, 2010.
  5. ^ Varcados, Marybeth (May 7, 1987). "On stage with 'daddy'". Santa Cruz Sentinel. California, Santa Cruz. p. 21. Retrieved May 8, 2016 – via open access

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