John Dall

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John Dall
John Dall.jpg
Born John Dall Thompson
(1920-05-26)May 26, 1920[1]
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died January 15, 1971(1971-01-15) (aged 50)
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Cause of death heart attack
Occupation Actor
Years active 1945-1965

John Dall (May 26, 1920 – January 15, 1971)[1][2] was an American actor.

Primarily a stage actor, he is best remembered today for two film roles: the cool-minded intellectual killer in Alfred Hitchcock's Rope (1948), and the trigger-happy lead in the 1950 noir Gun Crazy. He also had a substantial role in Stanley Kubrick's Spartacus (1960).

He first came to fame as the young prodigy who comes alive under the tutelage of Bette Davis in The Corn Is Green, for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Warner Bros signed him to a contract to make the film but they let him go in 1946.[3]

In 1962, Dall made two guest appearances on TV's Perry Mason: "The Case of the Lonely Eloper", and the murder victim in "The Case of the Weary Watchdog". In 1963, he again portrayed the murder victim in "The Case of the Reluctant Model". He made his fourth and final appearance on the show in the 1965 episode, "The Case of the Laughing Lady".

Personal life[edit]

John Dall Thompson[1] was born in New York City in 1920, the younger son of Charles Jenner Thompson (died 1929) and his wife Henry (née Worthington).[4] His father was a civil engineer. Some sources incorrectly cited Dall's birth name as John Jenner Thompson.[5][6][7][8][9] Most sources, including census records, passenger manifests and his New York Times obituary, support the 1920 year of birth, but some sources have cited 1918.[10][note 1] His older brother, Worthington Thompson, was later a decorated lieutenant in the 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team.[4][11]

Film historians William J. Mann and Karen Burroughs Hannsberry note that Dall was gay but had a short-lived marriage in the 1940s.[12][5] According to music journalist Phil Milstein, at the time of his death Dall had lapsed into alcoholism and was living with his partner, actor Clement Brace (died 1996).[13][14]


Death certificate of John Dall.

Dall sustained a serious fall while visiting London in October 1970, and died of a heart attack at his home in Beverly Hills, California on January 15, 1971, aged 50. His body was donated to medical science.[8]


Radio appearances[edit]

Year Program Episode/source
1953 Theatre Guild on the Air Quiet Wedding[15]


Year Album Credits Label Notes
1949 This Is My Beloved Narrator Atlantic Records Walter Benton's poems set to music by Vernon Duke[16][17]


  1. ^ Dall's name does not appear alongside his parents and elder brother in the United States Census conducted in January 1920, casting further doubt on a 1918 birthdate.


  1. ^ a b c Date of birth given as May 26, 1920 by a majority of sources, including census records, ship manifests, death certificate, et al. Other sources formerly cited 1918, inaccurately.
  2. ^ "John Dall biography". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  3. ^ PARAMOUNT BUYS HARVESTING STORY: Studio Will Produce Houston Branch's 'The Big Haircut' -- Lead to Alan Ladd, Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y], May 11, 1946, p. 34.
  4. ^ a b Astor, Gerald (2001). Battling Buzzards: The Odyssey of the 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team 1943-1945. New York: Random House. p. 108. ISBN 0440236932. Retrieved December 5, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Burroughs Hannsberry, Karen (2003). Bad Boys: the Actors of Film Noir. McFarland. p. 176. ISBN 0786414847. 
  6. ^ "John Dall papers". Margaret Herrick Library. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved February 10, 2015. 
  7. ^ "John Dall, 50, Oscar Nominee For 'Corn Is Green' Role, Dies". New York Times. January 18, 1971. Retrieved December 2, 2014. John Dall Thompson - he used the middle name for his career as an actor -... (registration required)
  8. ^ a b "Actor, Brother of City Man, Is Dead". The Daily Times (Salisbury, Maryland). January 20, 1971. p. 7. Retrieved December 6, 2014. Worthington Thompson... is the only immediate survivor of John Dall... [who] died Friday in his Hollywood home of a heart attack. Mr. Thompson said today that his brother had never fully recovered from a fall last October in London. The 50-year-old actor was in Europe on business at the time... His grandfather was the late Dall Worthington of Baltimore County. (registration required)
  9. ^ "California Death Records". RootsWeb. Retrieved December 3, 2014. DALL, John ... Age [at death] 50 yrs 
  10. ^ "New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, 1925-1957". FamilySearch. Retrieved December 3, 2014. John Dall Thompson ... Birth Year (Estimated): 1920 
  11. ^ "MailCall No. 2210" (PDF). 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team. April 20, 2014. p. 11. Retrieved December 6, 2014. 
  12. ^ Mann, William J. (2001). Behind the Screen: How Gays and Lesbians Shaped Hollywood. Viking. p. 263. ISBN 0670030171. 
  13. ^ Milstein, Phil. "The Nightmare World of Dion McGregor". American Song-Poem Music Archives. Archived from the original on February 4, 2015. Retrieved February 4, 2015. 
  14. ^ Israel, Lee (2008). Can You Ever Forgive Me? Memoirs of a Literary Forger. Simon & Schuster. p. 65. ISBN 9781416553779. Retrieved February 4, 2015. 
  15. ^ Kirby, Walter (March 15, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 46. Retrieved June 25, 2015 – via  open access publication - free to read
  16. ^ Atlantic Records records Benton's Beloved. Billboard. March 26, 1949. Retrieved November 10, 2011. 
  17. ^ "David Edwards, René Wu, Patrice Eyries, Mike Callahan, and Randy Watts, ''Atlantic Album Discography, Part 1 100 & 400 Series (1949–1954)'' (Aug. 2010)". August 29, 2010. Retrieved November 10, 2011. 

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