Archive for Saturday, April 3, 2010

’Dynasty’ oil tycoon Forsythe dies

April 3, 2010

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— John Forsythe, the handsome, smooth-voiced actor who made his fortune as the scheming oil tycoon in TV’s “Dynasty” and the voice of the leader of “Charlie’s Angels,” has died after a yearlong battle with cancer. He was 92.

Forsythe died late Thursday at his home in Santa Ynez from complications of pneumonia, publicist Harlan Boll said Friday.

“He died as he lived his life, with dignity and grace,” daughter Brooke Forsythe said.

Despite his distinguished work in theater and films, Forsythe’s greatest fame came from his role as Blake Carrington in producer Aaron Spelling’s 1981-89 primetime soap opera “Dynasty.”

Forsythe lent dignity to the tale of murder, deceit, adultery and high finance, which often brought Carrington into conflict with his flashy, vengeful former wife, Alexis Colby, played to the hilt by Joan Collins.

“He was one of the last of the true gentlemen of the acting profession,” Collins said in a statement. “I enjoyed our nine years of feuding, fussing and fighting as the Carringtons.”

Forsythe was an important part of another hit Spelling series without being seen. From 1976 to 1981 he played the voice of Charlie, the boss who delivered assignments to his beautiful detectives, including Farrah Fawcett, via telephone in “Charlie’s Angels.”

“We were so happy when he agreed to be the voice of Charlie, and he always laughed about having to take a back seat to Farrah’s hair,” Spelling’s widow, Candy, said in a statement.

With his full head of silver hair, tanned face and soothing voice, Forsythe as Carrington attracted the ardor of millions of female television viewers. “It’s rather amusing at my advanced age (mid-60s) to become a sex symbol,” he cracked.

While he had small roles in a couple of films in the early 1940s, Forsythe’s first successes were mainly on the stage. While serving during World War II, he was cast in Moss Hart’s Air Force show “Winged Victory,” along with many other future stars.

After the war, Forsythe became a founding member of the Actors Studio.

Forsythe began appearing in television plays as early as 1947, and he continued his Broadway career. A role in Arthur Miller’s “All My Sons” led to the awesome task of replacing Henry Fonda in “Mister Roberts.” He was next able to create a role of his own, as the naive Army officer in occupied Okinawa in “Teahouse of the August Moon.” The play was a huge success, winning the Pulitzer Prize.

The call to Hollywood was irresistible, and Forsythe came west to star in such films as “The Captive City,” “The Glass Web” and “Escape from Fort Bravo.” His best break came in 1955 when he starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s one attempt at whimsy, “The Trouble with Harry,” about a corpse that kept turning up in a New England town.

Forsythe’s film roles were limited because he was already busy in television. The comedy “Bachelor Father,” in which he played a Hollywood lawyer who cared for his teenage niece, lasted from 1957 to 1962, appearing successively on CBS, NBC and ABC.

His later films included “Madame X” (opposite Lana Turner) and “In Cold Blood” and Hitchcock’s spy thriller “Topaz.”

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