Hollywood veteran in the supporting role of big and big tough, actor John Saxon died at the age of 82, from pneumonia. Born Carmine Oricco in New York, he was noticed by the agent of Rock Hudson for his Latin foppish face, in youth idol jobs alongside Tab Hunter and Sandra Dee, ideal for chastely arousing the sensuality of the public of budding teens. His presence as a versatile macho – which makes him play Mexicans, Indians or an Arab sheikh in Dynasty – serves it for a long time on both sides of the Atlantic: in Italy (in the girl who knew too much (1963) by Mario Bava, Darkness (1982) by Dario Argento and a number of transalpine B series), in American TV series (from the man worth three billion at the all risks agency) and the roles of attractive scoundrel (as a bandit in the western Appaloosa (1966) facing Marlon Brando). His film is overflowing with no less than 200 titles, he even ended up making a horror film in 1988, Zombie Death House.

A sincere practitioner of karate and judo, he will admit reluctance to play in martial arts films, for fear of desecrating them, while recognizing the physical connection: “Tai chi was fascinating because it resembled the psychophysical exercises in my acting lessons.He took the plunge and rose to fame with Operation Dragon (1973), where his ironic play makes the role of a clumsy playboy cool and bearable, in counterpoint to Bruce Lee. “He took me seriously», he will say. We will also invariably see him as a cop, outdated in horror films like Black Christmas (1974) by Bob Clark and the Claws of the night (1984) by Wes Craven. Thick eyebrows and white teeth, he embodied the cinematic machismo celebrated in Once upon a time in hollywood (2019) by Quentin Tarantino, inconsistent, from another time but reassuring like a blanket, as soon as we saw his name on the screen.

Léo Soesanto

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