John Williams (actor)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other people named John Williams, see John Williams (disambiguation).
John Williams
Born (1903-04-15)15 April 1903
Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire, England, UK
Died 5 May 1983(1983-05-05) (aged 80)
La Jolla, California, U.S.
Occupation actor
Years active 1924–79
Height 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Spouse(s) Helen Williams (?-1983) (his death)

John Williams (15 April 1903 – 5 May 1983) was an English stage, film and television actor. He is remembered for his role as chief inspector Hubbard in Alfred Hitchcock's Dial M For Murder, as the chauffeur in Sabrina, and as portraying the second "Mr. French" on TV's Family Affair.

Life and work[edit]

Born in Chalfont St Giles in Buckinghamshire, England, he was educated at Lancing College and began acting on the Broadway stage in 1924. He then went on to appear in thirty more Broadway plays over the next four decades. He first acted in Hollywood films in 1930, debuting in director Mack Sennett's The Chumps. In his career he appeared in more than forty films and also made more than forty guest appearances on television shows. He was part of the regular cast for the 1967 season of the family comedy, Family Affair.

Outside his film career, Williams gained fame as the star of a television commercial for 120 Music Masterpieces, a four-LP set of classical music excerpts from Columbia House.[citation needed] This became the longest-running nationally seen commercial in U.S. television history, for 13 years from 1971 to 1984. It began, "I'm sure you recognise this lovely melody as 'Stranger in Paradise.' But did you know that the original theme is from the Polovetsian Dance No. 2 by Borodin?. So many of the tunes of our well-known popular songs were actually written by the great masters—like these familiar themes... "

Williams reprised his Broadway role in Dial M for Murder for a 1958 Hallmark Hall of Fame television presentation. Also pictured are Maurice Evans and Rosemary Harris.

In 1953 Williams was awarded a Tony Award for Best Supporting or Featured Actor (Dramatic) for his role as Chief Inspector Hubbard in Dial M for Murder on Broadway. When Alfred Hitchcock took over the script to make a film of the play in 1954, he cast Williams in the same role. He also appeared in Hitchcock's The Paradine Case with Gregory Peck as a barrister, and as an insurance company representative in To Catch a Thief with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly.

Williams played in several episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents on TV, including "The Long Shot" (1955), "Back for Christmas" (1956),[1] "Whodunit" (1956), "Wet Saturday" (1956), "The Rose Garden" (1956), the 3-part episode "I Killed the Count" (1957), and "Banquo’s Chair" (1959). Three of these episodes, "Back for Christmas", "Wet Saturday", and "Banquo’s Chair", were directed by the master of suspense himself.

In 1963, Williams played William Shakespeare in the The Twilight Zone episode "The Bard".

Williams also appeared in the TV series Night Gallery, notably in the episode titled "The Doll."

One of his last appearances was in Battlestar Galactica: War of the Gods (1979) alongside Lorne Greene.


Williams died on Thursday, 5 May 1983 in La Jolla, California.[2] The 80-year-old actor Williams was stated to have had a heart condition.[2] Williams was survived by his wife Helen, and his sister Joyce Hornsted, who lived in Devon, England. There was no funeral.[2]



  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents (selected episodes)
    • "The Long Shot" (1955)
    • "Back for Christmas" (1956)
    • "Whodunit" (1956)
    • "Wet Saturday" (1956)
    • "The Rose Garden" (1956)
    • "I Killed the Count" (3-part episode, 1957)
    • "The Three Dreams of Mr. Findlater" (1957)
  • Family Affair, as Nigel "Niles" French. 9 episodes. Replaced Sebastian Cabot (Mr. French) while he was recovering from an injury to his wrist.
  • The Twilight Zone, "The Bard" (1963)
  • The Wild Wild West, "The Night of the Bleak Island" (1969)
  • Mission: Impossible, "Lover's Knot" (1970)
  • Night Gallery, "The Doll" (1971), with Henry Silva, and "The Caterpillar" (1972)
  • Columbo (TV series) "Dagger of the Mind" (1972)
  • "Battlestar Galactica", "War of the Gods – Parts 1 & 2" Council Member
  • Columbia House - 120 Music Masterpieces TV commercial for recordings of classical music


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c Los Angeles Times (7 May 1983), p. A28

External links[edit]