John Larkin

Active - 1950 - 1965  |   Genres - Thriller, Action, Drama, Science Fiction, Western

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Television and movie actor John Larkin -- not to be confused with the identically named African-American actor who worked in movies during the 1930s, or with the similarly named screenwriter/producer-director of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s -- was an extremely busy radio actor at the start of his career. Born in Oakland, CA, in 1912, he rose to stardom in 1947 when he became the fourth (and last and longest-serving) actor to portray the role of Perry Mason in the radio series of that name. He played the part until the end of the series' run in 1955. At that point, he was cast in the role of District Attorney Mike Karr in The Edge of Night, a daytime television drama that was originally conceived as a Perry Mason spin-off. During this same period, he had already been very active on television; Larkin's strong delivery and vocal demeanor made him a natural as a narrator, and it was in that capacity that he came to the small screen at the start of the 1950s on Farewell to Yesterday. With the decline of radio, he primarily worked in television from the second half of the 1950s through the mid-1960s, including such series as The Detectives, Gunsmoke, Bonanza, The Untouchables, and The Fugitive, as well as Perry Mason. His casting in episodes of the latter created a situation that fans of the radio show appreciated for its ironic resonances. In at least one installment of Perry Mason, he was the defendant represented by television's Perry Mason, Raymond Burr. He was also the co-star of the Quinn Martin-produced series Twelve O'Clock High, as Major General Crowe, the direct superior officer to series protagonist Brigadier General Frank Savage (Robert Lansing), during the show's first season. Larkin didn't make his first feature film appearance until 1964, when John Frankenheimer cast him in Seven Days In May as Colonel Broderick, the antagonistic right-wing signal corps officer at the center of a conspiracy against the President of the United States. Although he was uncredited in the role, he had two memorable scenes with stars Kirk Douglas and Edmond O'Brien. He only ever got to work in two other movies, the Disney production of Those Calloways and John Sturges' The Satan Bug (both 1965); in the latter, he had one key scene. Larkin, who was known best for playing hard-nosed, authoritative types, died of a heart attack in early 1965 at the age of 52.

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