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News American Hindi

Hollywood actor John Saxon, of Enter The Dragon and Shalimar fame, dies aged 84

Saxon had featured in Krishna Shah's star-studded heist film with Dharmendra, Zeenat Aman, Sylvia Miles and Rex Harrison.

Sukhpreet Kahlon

Hollywood actor John Saxon died on Saturday 25 July, eleven days short of his 85th birthday. His wife Gloria Saxon told The Hollywood Reporter website that the actor died of pneumonia at his home in Tennessee.

Saxon was born Carmine Orrico on 5 August 1935 in Brooklyn, New York City, and trained with acting coach Stella Adler. He started his acting career in the 1950s, when the agent Henry Wilson saw his photograph on the cover of a magazine. His early films included Running Wild (1955) and The Unguarded Moment (1956), but it was the unexpected success of Rock, Pretty Baby (1956) which made him a teen idol.

Saxon went on to star in Westerns and, later, horror films. In 1966, he received a Golden Globe nomination for his role as a Mexican bandit in the Western, The Appaloosa (1966), alongside Marlon Brando.

In 1973, he starred alongside martial arts legend Bruce Lee in the latter’s Hollywood debut film, Enter The Dragon.

Saxon also appeared in Krishna Shah’s ambitious heist film Shalimar (1978), alongside Hollywood artistes Rex Harrison and Sylvia Miles. In the film, Saxon plays Colonel Columbus, a mute character who communicates through sign language. The star-studded film, which also featured Dharmendra, Zeenat Aman and Shammi Kapoor, was released in Hindi and English.

A December 1977 issue of India Today magazine reported Saxon’s impression of shooting for the film in Bangalore. The magazine reported that at the time, Enter The Dragon was still playing at theatres in the city and Saxon attracted a huge fan following. According to him, his co-star in Shalimar, Zeenat Aman, was "the sex symbol of the '70s".

Saxon also shared his observation of Indians, saying, “What I find most incredible, even somewhat frightening, is the Indian ability to handle frustration without any expression of anger. To me, this seems to reflect a tremendous strength of national character, more so in the face of the cult of violence that is engulfing the entire world today."

In the 1970s and 1980s, Saxon appeared in a number of television shows in the US. In 1983, he starred in the horror cult film, A Nightmare On Elm Street. He made his directorial debut with Zombie Death House in 1987. He worked in over 200 films in his six-decade-long career.