Iconic character actor and martial artist, John Saxon, has passed away. He was 83 years old. Known best for his recurring role in the Wes Craven classic franchise, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and starring opposite the legendary Bruce Lee in Enter the Dragon, Saxon had over 200 casting credits to his name during his extensive 60+ year career. He died of pneumonia Saturday in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, according to his wife, Gloria.
The Hollywood Reporter first broke the news late Saturday. Saxon has had near countless roles in movies and tv, starting back in 1956 and becoming a teen idol of sorts, garnering 3,000 fan letters a week. As his catalog of work started to grow, his first major recognition came in the form of a Golden Globe for starring alongside the renowned Marlon Brando in 1966’s The Appaloosa. Saxon went on to do several other westerns before landing a huge role opposite Bruce Lee in 1973 as a degenerate gambler bidding on a martial arts tournament. And, while he admitted that his martial arts weren’t nearly up to par with the great Bruce Lee, he did say that Lee respected him, in an interview with the L.A. Times from 2012.
“[Lee] took me seriously. I would tell him I would rather do it this way, and he’d say, ‘OK, try it that way.’ “
Most fans remember Saxon, however, from the horror genre. With roles in Roger Corman’s Queen of Blood and Battle Beyond the Stars, he is most famously known for playing cop Donald Thompson in the first and third Nightmare on Elm Street films, as well as playing a version of himself in 1994’s New Nightmare. He even wrote a prequel script for the franchise, but it has yet to be used.
John Saxon may not have ever been ‘leading man’ famous, but he definitely made an impact in the film and tv community, and got to do what he loved for over 6 decades. He is survived by his wife, his three sons, his grandkids and great grandkids, and his sister.
What your favorite John Saxon role? Let us know in the comments below!