Nationality: American. Born: Richmond Reed Carradine in New York City, 5 February 1906. Education: Christ Church School, Kingston, New York; Graphic Art School; Episcopal Academy, Philadelphia. Family: Married 1) Ardanelle Cosner, 1935 (divorced 1944), sons: Bruce John and the actor John Arthur (David); 2) Sonia Sorel, 1945 (divorced 1955), sons: Christopher, John, and the actors Keith Ian and Robert Reed; 3) Doris Rich, 1957 (died 1971); 4) Emily Cisneros, 1975. Career: Pre-1925—traveled throughout the South working as sketch artist; 1925—stage debut in Camille in New Orleans; then joined Shakespearean stock company; 1927–30—appeared in stage productions in Los Angeles; 1930—film debut using professional name Peter Richmond in Tol'able David; also appeared as John Peter Richmond until 1935; 1936—changed name to John Carradine after signing contract with 20th Century-Fox; c. 1930s-60s—acted on stage between film assignments; 1940s—began freelancing for various studios; 1950—host of TV series The Trap; 1953–54—in TV series My Friend Irma; 1964–66—appeared occasionally as Mr. Gateman on TV series The Munsters; 1978—in TV mini-series Greatest Heroes of the Bible. Died: In Milan, 27 November 1988.
Films as Actor:
Tol'able David (Blystone) (as Buzzard)
Heaven on Earth (Mack) (as Chicken Sam); Bright Lights (Curtiz)
The Sign of the Cross (DeMille); Forgotten Commandments (Gasnier and Schorr)
The Invisible Man (Whale); This Day and Age (DeMille); The Story of Temple Drake (Roberts) (as trial spectator); To the Last Man (Hathaway) (as Pete Garon)
The Black Cat (Ulmer) (as member of cult); Cleopatra (DeMille) (as Roman citizen); The Meanest Gal in Town (Mack)
The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo (Roberts); Alias Mary Dow (Neumann); Les Miserables (Boleslawski); The Crusades (DeMille); The Bride of Frankenstein (Whale) (as Woodsman); Clive of India (Boleslawski); She Gets Her Man (Nigh); Cardinal Richelieu (Lee); Bad Boy (Blystone); Transient Lady (False Witness) (Buzzell)
Anything Goes (Tops Is the Limit) (Milestone); Captain January (Butler); The Prisoner of Shark Island (John Ford) (as Sgt. Rankin); Under Two Flags (Lloyd) (as Cafard); White Fang (Butler) (as Beauty Smith); Ramona (King) (as Jim Farrar); Dimples (Seiter) (as Richards); Mary of Scotland (John Ford) (as David Rizzio); Daniel Boone (Howard) (as Simon Girty); Winterset (Santell) (as Romagna); The Garden of Allah (Boleslawski); A Message to Garcia (Marshall) (as voice of President McKinley); Half Angel (Lanfield); Laughing at Trouble (Laughing at Death) (Strayer)
Nancy Steele Is Missing (Marshall) (as Harry Wilkins); Danger—Love at Work (Preminger) (as Herbert Pemberton); This Is My Affair (His Affair) (Seiter) (as Ed); Love under Fire (Marshall) (as Captain Delmar); Thank You, Mr. Moto (Foster) (as Pereira); Captains Courageous (Fleming) (as Long Jack); The Last Gangster (Ludwig) (as Caspar); The Hurricane (John Ford); Ali Baba Goes to Town (Butler) (as Ishak)
International Settlement (Forde) (as Murdock); Four Men and a Prayer (John Ford) (as Gen. Adolfo Arturo Sebastian); I'll Give a Million (Walter Lang) (as Kopelpeck); Kentucky Moonshine (Four Men and a Girl) (Butler) (as Reef Hatfield); Kidnapped (Werker) (as Gordon); Alexander's Ragtime Band (King) (as cabbie); Gateway (Werker); Submarine Patrol (Ford) (as McAllison); Of Human Hearts (Brown) (as Abraham Lincoln)
Jesse James (King) (as Bob Ford); The Hound of the Baskervilles (Lanfield) (as Barryman); Frontier Marshal (Dwan) (as Ben Carter); Drums along the Mohawk (John Ford) (as Caldwell); The Three Musketeers (The Singing Musketeer) (Dwan) (as Naveau); Stagecoach (John Ford) (as Hatfield); Captain Fury (Roach) (as Coughy); Five Came Back (Farrow) (as Crimp); Mr. Moto's Last Warning (Foster) (as Danforth)
The Grapes of Wrath (John Ford) (as Jim Casey); The Return of Frank James (Fritz Lang) (as Bob Ford); Brigham Young—Frontiersman (Brigham Young) (Hathaway) (as Porter Rockwell); Chad Hanna (King) (as Bisbee)
Western Union (Fritz Lang) (as Murdoch); Blood and Sand (Mamoulian) (as El Nacional); Man Hunt (Fritz Lang) (as Mr. Jones); Swamp Water (The Man Who Came Back) (Renoir) (as Jesse Wick)
Whispering Ghosts (Werker) (as "Long Jack"/"Norbert"); Son of Fury (Cromwell) (as Caleb Green); Northwest Rangers (Newman) (as Martin Caswell); Reunion (Reunion in France; Mademoiselle France) (Dassin) (as Ulrich Windler); Information Please no. 5 (short) (as guest panelist)
Silver Spurs (Kane); Captive Wild Woman (Dmytryk) (as Dr. Walters); Hitler's Madman (Hitler's Hangman) (Sirk) (as Heydrich); I Escaped from the Gestapo (No Escape) (Young); The Isle of Forgotten Sins (Ulmer)
The Mummy's Ghost (LeBorg); Barbary Coast Gent (Del Ruth) (as Duke Cleat); The Adventures of Mark Twain (Rapper) (as Bret Harte); The Black Parachute (Landers); The Invisible Man's Revenge (Beebe) (as Dr. Drury); The Return of the Ape Man (Rosen); Voodoo Man (Beaudine) (as Job); Alaska (Archainbaud); House of Frankenstein (Kenton) (as Dracula); Waterfront (Sekely); Gangway for Tomorrow (Auer); Revenge of the Zombies (The Corpse Vanished) (Sekely); Bluebeard (Ulmer) (title role)
House of Dracula (Kenton) (as Dracula); Fallen Angel (Preminger); Captain Kidd (Lee) (as Orange Povey); It's in the Bag (The Fifth Chair) (Wallace) (as Pike)
Down Missouri Way (Berne) (as Thorndyke Dunning); The Face of Marble (Beaudine)
The Private Affairs of Bel Ami (Lewin) (as Charles Forestier)
C-Man (Lerner) (as Doc Spencer)
Thunder Pass (McDonald) (as Bergstron); Casanova's Big Night (McLeod) (as Foressi); Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray) (as Old Tom); The Egyptian (Curtiz)
Stranger on Horseback (Jacques Tourneur); Desert Sands (Selander) (as Arab Jala); The Kentuckian (Lancaster) (as Fletcher)
The Female Jungle (Ve Sota); The Black Sheep (Dr. Cadman's Secret) (LeBorg) (as Borg); The Ten Commandments (DeMille) (as Aaron); Around the World in Eighty Days (Anderson) (as Col. Proctor Stamp); Hidden Guns (Gannaway) (as Snipe Harding); The Court Jester (Panama and Frank); Dark Venture (Trevlac, i.e. John Calvert)
The Unearthly (Peters); Half Human (Jujin Yukiotoko) (Honda and Crane); Hell Ship Mutiny (Sholem and Williams) (as Malone); The True Story of Jesse James (Nicholas Ray) (as Rev. Bailey); The Story of Mankind (Allen) (as Pharaoh Khufu)
The Proud Rebel (Curtiz); The Last Hurrah (Ford) (as Amos Force); Showdown at Boot Hill (Fowler, Jr.) (as Doc Weber)
The Oregon Trail (Fowler, Jr.) (as Zachariah); The Cosmic Man (Greene); Invisible Invaders (Cahn)
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Curtiz); Tarzan the Magnificent (Day); Sex Kittens Go to College (Zugsmith); The Incredible Petrified World (Warren)
Invasion of the Animal People (Terror in the Midnight Sun) (Vogel and Warren); The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (Ford) (as Major Cassius Starbuckle)
The Patsy (Lewis) (as Bruce Alden); Cheyenne Autumn (John Ford) (as Major Jeff Blair); Curse of the Stone Hand (Warren and Schlieppe)
House of the Black Death (Blood of the Man Devil; Night of the Beast) (Daniels and LeBorg); The Wizard of Mars (Hewitt); Something for Mrs. Gibbs (Van Praag—advertising short)
Billy the Kid vs. Dracula (Beaudine) (as Dracula); Night Train to Mundo Fine (Francis); Broken Sabre (McEveety); Munster, Go Home! (Bellamy) (as Cruikshank); The Emperor's New Clothes (Clark—unreleased)
The Hostage (Doughten) (as Otis Lovelace); Hillbillys in a Haunted House (Yarbrough); Dr. Terror's Gallery of Horrors (The Blood Suckers; Gallery of Horror; Return from the Past) (Hewitt) (as narrator and warlock in one ep.); La Senora Muerte (Mrs. Death; The Death Woman) (Salvador)
They Ran for Their Lives (Payne) (as Laslow); Pacto diabolico (Pact with the Devil) (Salvador); The Astro-Zombies (Mikels); Autopsia de un fantasma (Autopsy on a Ghost) (Rodriguez) (as Satan); The Helicopter Spies (Sagal—for TV); Genesis (Genesis I) (organized by R. B. Childs—compilation film) (as narrator)
Blood of Dracula's Castle (Adamson and Hewitt) (as George); The Good Guys and the Bad Guys (Kennedy); The Trouble with Girls (Tewksbury); Daughter of the Mind (Grauman—for TV); Dracula vs. Frankenstein (The Blood Seekers; Blood of Frankenstein) (Adamson); Las vampiras (The Vampires) (Curiel)
The McMasters (Kjellin); Myra Breckinridge (Sarne); Hell's Bloody Devils (The Fakers; Swastika Savages; Operation M; Smashing the Crime Syndicate) (Adamson); Crowhaven Farm (Grauman—for TV); Cain's Cutthroats (Cain's Way; Justice Cain) (Osborne) (as Preacher Sims); Blood of the Iron Maiden (Trip to Terror; Is This Trip Really Necessary?) (Benoit); Horror of the Blood Monsters (The Flesh Creatures; Flesh Creatures of the Red Planet; Creatures of the Prehistoric Planet; Creatures of the Red Planet; Vampire Men of the Lost Planet) (Adamson); Five Bloody Graves (The Lonely Man; Five Bloody Days to Tombstone; Gun Riders) (Adamson)
Shinbone Alley (Wilson and Detiege—animated feature) (as voice); The Seven Minutes (Meyer)
Richard (Yerby and Hurwitz); Boxcar Bertha (Scorsese); Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex but Were Afraid to Ask (Allen); Blood of Ghastly Horror (The Fiend with the Electronic Brain; Psycho a Go-Go!; The Love Maniac; Man with the Synthetic Brain) (Adamson—produced 1969); Portnoy's Complaint (Lehman) (as voice of judge); Shadow House (short); Decisions! Decisions! (Segal—TV pilot); The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (animated short) (as narrator)
Silent Night, Bloody Night (Zora; Night of the Full Dark Moon) (Gershuny); Terror in the Wax Museum (Fenady); Bad Charleston Charlie (Nagy); Hex (Garen); Superchick (Forsyth) (as Igor Smith); House of Dracula's Daughter (Hessler); One Million A.D. (Baron—unreleased); The Cat Creature (Harrington—for TV); The Night Strangler (Curtis—for TV); Legacy of Blood (Monson); The Gatling Gun (Gordon—produced 1969 as King Gun); Bigfoot (Slatzer)
The House of the Seven Corpses (Harrison); Moonchild (Gadney—produced 1972) (as "The Walker")
Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary (Moctezuma); Stowaway to the Moon (McLaglen—for TV) (as Jacob Avril)
Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood (Winner); Crash (Band); The Killer Inside Me (Kennedy); The Shootist (Siegel) (as Hezekiah Beckum); The Last Tycoon (Kazan) (as studio tour guide); Death at Love House (The Shrine of Lorna Love) (Swackhamer—for TV) (as Conan Carroll)
The Sentinel (Winner); Shock Waves (Death Corps; Almost Human) (Weiderhorn); The White Buffalo (Thompson) (as Amos Briggs); Golden Rendezvous (Lazarus); Tail Gunner Joe (Taylor—for TV); The Christmas Coal Mine Miracle (Christmas Miracle in Caufield, U.S.A.) (Taylor—for TV); Satan's Cheerleaders (Clark); Journey into the Beyond (Olsen) (as narrator); The Lady and the Lynchings; Frankenstein Island (Warren) (as Dr. Frankenstein)
Sunset Cove (Save Our Beach) (Adamson) (as Judge Winslow); Vampire Hookers (Santiago); The Bees (Zacharias) (as Dr. Sigmund Hummel)
Monster (Monster: The Legend That Became a Terror) (Hartford); The Seekers (Hayers—for TV); Teheran Incident(Missile X; The Neutron Bomb Incident; Cruise Missile) (Martinson); Phobia (The Nesting) (Weston); Nocturna (Granddaughter of Dracula) (Tampa, i.e. Harry Hurwitz) (as Dracula); The Mandate of Heaven
Carradines in Concert (doc); The Monster Club (Baker); The Howling (Dante) (as Kenton); The Boogey Man (Lommel)
The Secret of NIMH (Bluth) (as voice of Great Owl); The Scarecrow (Pillsbury)
House of Long Shadows (Walker); The Ice Pirates (Raffill) (as Emperor)
Evils of the Night (Rustam) (as Dr. Kozmar); The Vals (Polakof) (as Mr. Stanton)
Peggy Sue Got Married (Coppola) (as Leo); Revenge (Lewis) (as Sen. Bradford); The Tomb (Olen Ray) (as Mr. Androheb)
Evil Spawn (Deadly Sting; Alive by Night) (Hall) (as Dr. Zeitman); Monster in the Closet (Dahlin) (as Old Joe)
Star Slammer (Prison Ship) (Olen Ray) (as The Justice)
By CARRADINE: article—
Interview by S. Eyman in Films and Filming (London), December 1981.
On CARRADINE: book—
Young, Jordan R., Reel Characters: Great Movie Character Actors, Beverly Hills, 1986.
On CARRADINE: articles—
Bühler, W.-E., "John Carradine," in Filmkritik (Munich), January 1972.
Parrish, J. R., and M. R. Pitts, "The Good, the Bad, and the Most," in Focus on Film (London), Summer 1973.
Films in Review (New York), October 1979, corrections and additions to filmography in January 1980 issue.
L'Ecran Fantastique, no. 15, 1980 and nos. 45 and 46, 1984.
Parnum, J., and G.W. Marik, "House of Carradine: Why Isn't Lugosi in the House?," Midnight Marquee (Baltimore, Maryland), no. 49, Summer 1995.
Stanley, R. "John Carradine," Classic Images (Muscatine, Iowa), no. 250, April 1996.
* * *
The film career of John Carradine was one of the longest and most prolific in Hollywood. He claimed to have appeared in over 400 films and the range of his roles varies widely. Although he made a successful career for himself in films, Carradine's first love was always the theater, particularly Shakespeare. His training in theater is apparent in his film work, creating "larger than life" characters with exaggerated gestures and a booming voice.
Carradine began acting in films in the early 1930s using the name John Peter Richmond. He found fairly steady work as a bit player with such directors as Cecil B. DeMille (The Sign of the Cross, This Day and Age, Cleopatra) and James Whale (The Bride of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man). In 1936, using the name John Carradine, he became a Fox contract player. That same year Carradine appeared in John Ford's The Prisoner of Shark Island. (Carradine eventually appeared in ten films directed by John Ford, including Stagecoach, The Grapes of Wrath, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.) Carradine received excellent notices for his performance as a prison guard in The Prisoner of Shark Island, which led to villainous roles in other films.
In addition to his reputation as a film "bad guy" Carradine also became known for his roles in cheap horror pictures. These films were produced very quickly and so there are many of them among Carradine's credits. In 1945 he appeared in two low-budget films for Universal, House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula, which marked the first times that Carradine played a vampire. His subsequent horror films, with titles like The Incredible Petrified World and Billy the Kid vs. Dracula, did not carry much credibility, but this kind of film kept Carradine employed for a good number of years. Carradine became so well known for playing the "mad scientist" in low-budget horror films that he was enlisted to do a parody of himself in a segment of Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex but Were Afraid to Ask. With such an amazingly diverse list of film credits, it is not greatly surprising that John Carradine became one of the most recognizable character actors on the American screen.
—Linda J. Obalil