Childhood & Early Life
John Saxon was born as Carmine Orrico on August 5, 1935 in Brooklyn, New York. His father, Antonio Orrico, a first generation immigrant from Calabria, Italy, was a dock worker while his mother, Anna née Protettore was from Caserta, a small city near Naples. John was their eldest child.
Little is known about his early years except that he graduated from New Utrecht High School in 1953 and that it was while studying there that he developed an interest in acting. Eventually he began attending an acting school in Manhattan, run by famous coach Stella Adler.
While studying in school, he also started modeling. He got his first break when one of his photographs from a summer modeling job attracted the attention of Hollywood agent Henry Willson. He not only took the teenager to Los Angeles, but also changed his name to John Saxon.
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In April 1954, John Saxon began his career with Universal Studios at the salary of $150 a week. However, he spent the first year studying at the studio’s acting school, and also appeared in uncredited roles in two films. In the same year, he made his television debut with ‘Medic’.
In November 1955, eighteen months after signing his contract, he finally appeared as Vince Pomeroy in a crime drama film noir called ‘Running Wild’. Three months later, in February 1956, Universal increased his salary to $225 a week.
In 1956, he had two movies, ‘The Unguarded Moment’ and ‘Rock, Pretty Baby’, released. Among them, ‘Rock, Pretty Baby’, in which he had starred as Jimmy Daley, became an unexpected hit, making him a teen idol. In 1957, he reprised the same role in ‘Summer Love’.
By 1958, he had established himself as a successful actor, playing Bill Tremaine in 'This Happy Feeling', David Parkson in 'The Reluctant Debutante' and Will Henderson in 'The Restless Years'. Thereafter, he continued to appear in significant roles in various films until his contract with Universal ended in 1961.
In 1961, he traveled to Italy, where he appeared in the role of Renzo in the Italian drama film, ‘Agostino’ (1962) and The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1963). Thereafter, he returned to Hollywood, where he continued working steadily, both in lead and side roles.
In 1966, he returned to the television with ‘The Whispering Tree’ episode of ‘Gunsmoke’. Also in the same year, he appeared in his first television movie, ‘The Doomsday Flight’ and starred in Curtis Harrington's science-fiction horror film, ‘Queen of Blood’. Thereafter, he continued to work both on television and films.
In 1967, he appeared as Marco Polo in one episode of ‘The Time Tunnel’ and guest starred in ‘Bonaza’. He also remained active on big screen, starring in films like ‘For Singles Only’ (1968), appearing in westerns like ‘One Dollar Too Many’ (1968) and ‘Death of a Gunfighter’ (1969).
In 1969, he was cast as Dr. Theodore Stuart on the television series ‘The Bold Ones: The New Doctors’, remaining with it till 1972. Concurrently he continued to appear in other productions like ‘Joe Kidd’ and ‘Kung Fu’.
In 1973, he got his biggest break when he was cast as Roper in ‘Enter the Dragon’. It was followed by many more hits like ‘Mitchell’ (1974), ‘The Swiss Conspiracy’ (1975), ‘Napoli violenta’ (1976), ‘The Cynic, the Rat and the Fist’ (1977), ‘The Bees’ (1978) and ‘Fast Company’ (1979).
Continuing to work steadily, he appeared in more than forty films in 1980s and 1990s. Concurrently, he was also active on television, appearing in the recurring role of Rashid Ahmed from 1982 to 1984 in the ABC soap opera, ‘Dynasty’.
After appearing in nearly two hundred films in a career that began in 1955, he began to slow down in 2000s, appearing in twelve films till 2015. His last film was ‘The Extra’, in which he enacted the role of Victor Vallient.
Family & Personal Life
In 1967, John Saxon married his first wife, Mary Ann Saxon, having his only child, a son named Antonio, with her. The couple divorced in 1979. Antonio Saxon is now an actor.
In 1987, he married his second wife, Elizabeth Saxon. They divorced in 1992.
In 2008, he married his third wife, actress Gloria Martel. They remain married till date.