John Forsythe (1918-2010)

John Forsythe, star of Bachelor Father, Dynasty and voice of Charles Townsend on Charlie’s Angels, passed away today at the age of 92. He starred in at least one television series each decade between 1950 and 1990, although his television career began in 1948 with appearances on Kraft Television Theatre and NBC Presents. Additional roles, primarily on live television dramas, continued throughout the early-to-mid 1950s. From 1957 to 1962 he starred in Bachelor Father on CBS. The program would later air on NBC and finally ABC before wrapping up after five seasons and 157 episodes.

Forsythe followed Bachelor Father with two unsuccessful sitcoms, The John Forsythe Show on NBC from 1965 to 1966 and To Rome, With Love on CBS from 1969 to 1971. From 1976 to 1981 he voiced the often heard but never seen Charles Townsend on ABC’s Charlie’s Angels. Then, on January 12th, 1981, the program that brought Forsythe his greatest fame — Dynasty — premiered on ABC. John Forsthye starred as oil magnate Blake Carrington, with Linda Evans as his younger wife Krystle, Pamela Sue Martin as his daughter Fallon and, starting in the second season, Joan Collins as the devious Alexis Carrington (Blake’s former wife).

Dynasty, which ran for nine seasons, battled Dallas for control of the top of the Nielsen charts during the early 1980s, finally ranking first during the 1984-1985 season. A spin-off, Dynasty II: The Colbys (starring Charlton Heston and Barbara Stanwyck), ran from 1985 to 1987 but failed to equal the success of Dynasty. The final episode of Dynasty was broadcast on May 11th, 1989. A two-part miniseries, Dynasty: The Reunion, aired in 1991.

Forsythe’s final television series, The Powers That Be, ran on NBC from 1992 to 1993. Following its cancellation, Forsythe all but retired from acting. He returned to the role of Charlie Townsend for 2000’s Charlie’s Angels and its 2003 sequel Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle. Forsythe was nominated for four Emmy Awards and six Golden Globes (winning two) during his lengthy career, which also included film and theater roles. Obituaries can be found at The New York Times, and The Hollywood Reporter.

A two-and-a-half hour interview conducted with the Archive of American Television in 2000 can be viewed online. Here’s the first part:

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2 Replies to “John Forsythe (1918-2010)”

  1. Forsythe was one of MCA’s most valuable actors, as he appeared on several of their anthology series [“SCHLITZ PLAYHOUSE OF STARS”, “GENERAL ELECTRIC THEATER” {of which the original “BACHELOR FATHER” pilot was first presented in May 1957}, “KRAFT SUSPENSE THEATER”, etc.]; his own series, which he co-produced with MCA and earned a handsome income from [“BACHELOR FATHER”, “THE JOHN FORSYTHE SHOW” {that wasn’t a success, lasting only one season}], and starring in MCA client Don Fedderson’s “TO ROME, WITH LOVE”…and several series for Aaron Spelling [“CHARLIE’S ANGELS”, “DYNASTY”]. John also lent his distinctive voice to various TV commercials (Michelob beer, in the ’70s, was among his most famous). He also served as host/narrator during the second season of NBC’s “I WITNESS VIDEO”, a VERY obscure “reality series” featuring sensational “home video footage” sent in by viewers, on the network’s early Sunday evening schedule (1992-’94).

    If you want to see him recalling his own TV and acting career a few years back, see his multi-part “Archive Of American Television” entry on YouTube.

    A true renaissance man of TV, indeed!

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