Randolph, John 1915-2004

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RANDOLPH, John 1915-2004

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born June 1, 1915, in Bronx, NY; died February 24, 2004, in Hollywood, CA. Actor and author. Randolph was a Tony-award winning actor who played roles in film, television, and on the state; he was also known for his social activism. The son of immigrants, Randolph was born Emanuel Cohen; after his father died and his mother remarried, his first name was changed to Mortimer; finally, in 1940, he legally changed it to John Randolph. After attending the College of the City of New York and Columbia University in the early 1930s, Randolph studied acting at the Dramatic Workshop of the New School for two years. During World War II, he was in the U.S. Army Air Forces, returning to Chicago after the war to resume his acting career, which had started back in 1935 with his first stage appearance in the play Ghosts. Other early roles included parts in Any Day Now, My Sister Eileen, The Time of Your Life, and the original production of Paint Your Wagon. He began performing in movies by the late 1940s. But Randolph's political activism, which had begun in the Great Depression while he was still in college, caught up to him in 1955 when he was blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee after refusing to testify. Although his stand against McCarthyism cost him a number of acting jobs, Randolph managed to keep working on the stage for the next fifteen years while he was blacklisted. One of his biggest roles at this time was the part of Arthur Hamilton in the 1966 science-fiction film Seconds. As he grew older, Randolph became well known for his parts as an authority figure, whether as a father, grandfather, judge, politician, or police chief, in such films as Serpico (1973), Prizzi's Honor (1985), and You've Got Mail (1988). On television, he also appeared in many movies and series, including Grand and Roseanne. All this time, he continued to act on stage, winning an Antoinette Perry Award in 1987 for his role as the grandfather in Broadway Bound. He continued to act in the theater until 2000; he also remained a social activist until the end, having earlier fought against the death penalty for Willie McGee in Kentucky and the espionage accusations against the Rosenbergs in their trial, he also participated in a march with Martin Luther King, Jr. More recently, he was active in Amnesty International, Artists against Apartheid, and TransAfrica. He was an fervent supporter of the arts, as well, serving as a former president of the Ensemble Studio Theater and on the board of directors of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, Actors' Equity, the Screen Actors Guild, and the Foundation for the Extension and Development of the American Theatre. Randolph, whose major theater tours included productions of Inherit the Wind, Macbeth, and Our Town, was the author of two television scripts for CBS-TV and the unproduced play "The Nihilist"; furthermore, he adapted versions of the plays Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man (1962) and The Magic Mountain (1967). In addition to his Tony Award, Randolph was the recipient of a Drama Desk award in 1986 and a Paul Robeson medal in 1980.



Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, Volume 40, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2002.


Chicago Tribune, February 28, 2004, section 2, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, February 27, 2004, p. B13.

New York Times, February 28, 2004, p. A14.

Times (London, England), March 4, 2004, p. 36.

Washington Post, March 1, 2004, p. B4.

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Randolph, John 1915-2004

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