John van Dreelen

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John van Dreelen
John van Dreelen in his sportscar.jpg
van Dreelen in 1964
Jacques Theodore van Drielen Gimberg

(1922-05-05)May 5, 1922
Amsterdam, Netherlands
DiedSeptember 4, 1992(1992-09-04) (aged 70)
Years active1948–1992

John van Dreelen (born Jacques Theodore van Drielen Gimberg; 5 May 1922 – 4 September 1992) was a Dutch actor, who frequently performed on television from the 1960s to the 1980s.[1]

Early years[edit]

Van Dreelen was born in Amsterdam, the son of Dutch actor Louis van Dreelen Gimberg and the Countess de Labouchere of Paris.[2] He attended the Sorbonne[3] and was fluent in several languages.

During World War II, his stage career was interrupted by the German invasion of the Netherlands. He escaped the Emslandlager labor camp near Papenburg by disguising himself as one of the German officers, a role he would later play so often on both big and small screens.[2]

Until 1950, his stage name was Jack Gimberg, at which time he changed it to John van Dreelen.


Though he appeared in many European films, van Dreelen is best remembered as an A-list guest star in dozens of American television shows from the early 1960s to the mid-1980s, such as 12 O'Clock High, The Twilight Zone ("The Jeopardy Room"), The Man from UNCLE, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Wild Wild West, Combat!, Blue Light, Mission: Impossible and Wonder Woman.[4] In 1962, he played the part of Ulrich in the episode "The Immigrants" on CBS's Rawhide.[5] In 1964 he played a film producer (and murderer) in the Perry Mason episode, "The Case of the Bountiful Beauty."[6] In 1965 he was again cast as the murderer in the episode, "The Case of the Feather Cloak."[7]


Never a major player in theatrical films, he nonetheless scored a few choice roles, including the Danish concert pianist who rescues and woos Lana Turner during an extended sequence in Madame X in 1966.[8] Four episodes of Blue Light were edited together to create the theatrical film I Deal in Danger, which was released in December 1966 and included his appearance.[9] His other film credits included roles in Von Ryan's Express (1965), Topaz (1969), Lost Horizon (1973), The Big Game (1973), The Clone Master (1978), The Formula (1980), The Money Pit (1986) and Born to Fight (1989), as well as TV miniseries such as The Rhinemann Exchange, The Word and Washington: Behind Closed Doors.[1]


Van Dreelen had an international stage career and starred in a Dutch staging of My Fair Lady. He starred as Baron Von Trapp for 40 weeks[3] in as the original American touring production of The Sound of Music. (According to the actor, Richard Rodgers wanted van Dreelen and Audrey Hepburn to play the film's leads.)[citation needed]



  1. ^ a b "John Van Dreelen".
  2. ^ a b "Jon (sic) Van Dreelen Acclaimed Current Season Theatre Idol". Anderson Herald. November 25, 1962. Retrieved February 28, 2017 – via open access
  3. ^ a b "John van Dreelen: Versatile Actor". The Times. California, San Mateo. January 18, 1967. p. 83. Retrieved February 28, 2017 – via open access
  4. ^ "John van Dreelen – Movies and Filmography – AllMovie".
  5. ^ "The Immigrants (1962)".
  6. ^ "Perry Mason: The Case of the Bountiful Beauty (1964) – Irving Moore – Cast and Crew – AllMovie".
  7. ^ "The Case of the Feather Cloak (1965)".
  8. ^ "Madame X (1966) – David Lowell Rich – Cast and Crew – AllMovie".
  9. ^ "I Deal in Danger (1966) – Walter E. Grauman – Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related – AllMovie".

External links[edit]