Discussion:
John Davis Chandler, 73, bad guy persona followed him throughout his 40-year Hollywood career
(too old to reply)
Hoodoo
2010-05-18 20:57:40 UTC
Permalink
May 15, 2010

John Davis Chandler: Requiem for a Hollywood heavy

By Sandy Wells - Staff writer
http://wvgazette.com/News/201005150369

Loading Image...
In 1971, John Davis Chandler played Skeeter in the movie "Shoot Out"
with Gregory Peck.

Loading Image...
In this photo from the 1961 film "Mad Dog Coll," former Charleston
resident John Davis Chandler starred as a homicidal gang lord, the bad
guy persona that would follow him throughout his 40-year career.


CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Loathsome. Vicious. Vile. Creepy. Sniveling,
psychotic, homicidal weasel. Not words you expect to read in an obituary.

On stage, on television and movie screens, Charleston High graduate John
Davis Chandler was all those awful things and more. He played crazed
killers, sadistic hoodlums, dope addicts and punks, the dregs of depravity.

He died in February, barely two weeks past his 73rd birthday.

From his obituary in California's Tolucan Times, published two months
after his death: "He specialized in portraying mean, neurotic and
dangerous villains ... made an impressive film debut in his sole
starring part as the titular sniveling, psychotic, homicidal weasel
gangster in 'Mad Dog Coll' ... made an effectively loathsome appearance
as a vile bushwhacker in the spooky horror western 'The Shadow of
Chikara' ... was excellent as vicious punk Arthur Reardon in 'The Young
Savages.'"

On Feb. 16, a neighbor concerned about Chandler called police. They
found him on the kitchen floor, dead, presumably from a heart attack or
stroke after a long struggle with lung cancer.

His wife, Marti, died of cancer about 15 years ago. Later, a girlfriend
also died of cancer. Chandler lived alone after that, in the same small
apartment he rented in Toluca Lake when he first went to California.

The Tolucan Times obituary, posted online two days later, mentioned
guest spots on such top TV shows as "ER," "Murder, She Wrote," "Hill
Street Blues," "Gunsmoke," "Colombo," "Route 66" and "Fantasy Island."
Chandler acted in more than 60 television productions and nearly 40 movies.

"Chandler paints a terrifying picture of human degradation," a reviewer
said about his performance in "Once a Thief." He portrayed James
Sargatanas, "the epitome of evil."

Director Ralph Nelson said: "For an actor ... to be able to interpret
the evil of human nature as he does in this film is an extraordinary feat."

Friends in Charleston don't remember John Davis Chandler that way.

At Charleston High School, they called him J.D. Or John Davis. Never
just John. He was small and wiry, scholarly and athletic, a blue-eye
blonde with an easy smile and an upbeat personality, the All-American boy.

"He was always mean in the movies, but I never could connect with that
image," said Charleston High classmate Phyllis Murdock Cowley. "He was
jolly, always happy. And you were happy to be around him."

"In his first movie, 'The Young Savages,' he played a killer," said
longtime friend Hal Ashworth, a retired cardiac surgeon in Bluffton,
S.C. "He had this sneer on his face the whole time, and it kind of
labeled him for the rest of his career."

His mother didn't mind his bad-boy persona. "I say it just shows what a
good actor he is, because he never did a mean thing in his life," she
said in a 1978 Charleston Gazette story.

Chandler graduated from Charleston High in 1952. He was vice president
of the student council, ranked at the top of his class academically,
played piano with the symphony and had the lead in most of the school
plays, Ashworth recalled. "He was just an outstanding person all around."

"He was an outstanding actor and a class tennis player," said classmate
Luther Godbey, now of Ocean Isle Beach, N.C. "He had a brilliant mind."

"He was a bit of a character, just a little bit different, a little on
the wild side," said classmate Bob Fletcher.

Described in an Internet article as "the bohemian son of a prominent
Charleston, W.Va., physician," Chandler was born in Hinton on Jan. 28,
1937, the second son of Dr. Arthur C. Chandler, a family physician. His
brother, Art Jr., preceded him by two years.

In 1938, his father moved the family to New York while he received
training in ophthalmology.

Chandler's brother explained his father's switch from family practice to
ophthalmology: "One night, he delivered a baby and his pay was a half
sack of potatoes and half of a ham. He decided try something else."

In 1940, the family moved to Charleston's East End. In 1949, they moved
to South Hills.

"Growing up, he was a little sickly," Art Chandler Jr. said of his
brother. "He had tonsillitis a lot, and there were no antibiotics. So he
was a little fellow, thin."

He idolized his older brother. "He was on me like glue. If anyone picked
on him, I was there."

At private summer camps, he picked up on archery, ran track, played
basketball and won awards as best all-around camper.

John Davis Chandler was about 8 when he fell in love with tennis. "He
had so much natural ability it was unbelievable," his brother said, "but
he wasn't highly competitive. If he lost, he lost. He was basically shy.
He didn't like the accolades that go along with doing too well.

"He was playing in the finals of the Kanawha Valley Junior Tennis
Tournament when he was 17. He roared through the first set. The second
set, he started having trouble. But he won the thing.

"He told me later that he changed his grip in the second set. In the
middle of a tournament, he decided to change his whole approach to the
game."

He did the same thing in life. After high school, he enrolled in pre-med
at Princeton. "I think he just assumed that was what he was supposed to
do," Art said. "Once he got into the science part, he realized it wasn't
for him."

He quit college and ended up with the U.S. Army in Germany. He spent
most of his time playing tennis for the Army, Art said.

"They put out a call for a boxing team," Hal Ashworth recalled. "He'd
never boxed, but he made the team. Then they put out a call for a tennis
team, and he said, 'Wait. That's my game.'"

"I imagine dad was a little disappointed when he decided to forego
college," Art said, "but I never heard him say anything. They realized
J.D. was different.

"When he became somewhat successful in New York, they were happy with
him, and proud."

After he returned from the Army in the late 1950s, Chandler appeared in
several Kanawha Players productions. The day after the last curtain on
"The Front Page," he left for New York to study at the American Academy
of Dramatic Arts.

In a 1957 interview, Chandler told Gazette entertainment writer Bayard
Ennis that he loved the opportunity to be someone else for short periods
of time. "I hope that doesn't sound clinically psychological," he said,
"but it's the only way I have ever been able to analyze the overpowering
interest the stage has for me."

In New York, he worked in summer stock productions and eventually snared
small parts on the New York stage.

In a summer stock version of "Mister Roberts," he caught the eye of
Joyce Selznick of Columbia Pictures. She set up an audition for a movie
about juvenile delinquents, "The Young Savages." He got the part of a
punk in a cast headed by Burt Lancaster, Shelly Winters and Dina Merrill.

Next, Selznick arranged for Chandler to read for his signature role as
Roaring 20s racketeer Vincent Coll in "Mad Dog Coll." Gene Hackman
appeared in the film in a walk-on.

Chandler's small frame, pale complexion and hooded lids over piercing
blue eyes gave him a menacing look suited to despicable scoundrels.

"He would not have done well as a lead actor," his brother said. "He
didn't have the dark good looks, and he wasn't big, just 5-foot-10 and
maybe 150 pounds."

Internet biographies praise his knack for playing unsavory characters,
including a frightening role as creepy Jimmy Hammond in "Ride the High
Country," one of a trio of westerns he appeared in for iconic director
Sam Peckinpah.

He played a bounty hunter in Clint Eastwood's "The Outlaw Josey Wales."
He worked with Charlton Heston in "Major Dundee" and with Ben Gazarra
and Sylvester Stallone in "Capone."

Family members caught him on television by accident. "Somebody would
say, 'I saw J.D. on TV last night,'" his brother said. "He never made a
big deal about it."

An avid yoga disciple, he once spent a year learning yoga techniques at
a monastery founded by Paramahansa Yogananda. "He shaved his head and
wore a white robe," Art said. "He was active in the Self-Realization
Fellowship, a branch of Hinduism. He used to send me books trying to get
me converted."

His mother died in 1992 at 89. His father died four years later, at 92.
Chandler returned to Charleston for their funerals.

By the late 1990s, his acting career was winding down. His last listed
performance was a guest appearance on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" in 1998.

"We talked a couple of weeks before he died," his brother said. "He
asked me a couple of things about dad and mother that I thought he
should have remembered. That was a little disturbing."

Then, on Feb. 16, he got the call from the coroner's office. "They found
my name on his phone list."

Chandler's body was cremated and his ashes were placed in two urns for
burial at two Self-Realization Fellowship churches.

"He had given away many dollars to religious and charitable
organizations," his brother said. "He made a very adequate living. His
dad left him a chunk of money, and he had the Actors Guild stipend.

"They told me when they went through his apartment that he had become a
recluse. They found uncashed residual checks from his movies scattered
around the apartment and in the dashboard of his car dating back to 1986.

"He was not interested in monetary things. He lived moment to moment. I
can't tell you the last time he bought a pair of pants."

Since his death, cultish fans have started to post tributes online. Many
express dismay and anger over the entertainment industry's failure to
acknowledge his passing.

"It saddens me that after 40 years in the business, his death would be
ignored," posted a friend, Theresa Severson of Morrisville, Wis.

The slight wouldn't surprise John Davis Chandler. "He passed away
feeling that no one gave a damn about him," Severson wrote.
--
Trout Mask Replica

KFJC.org, WFMU.org, WMSE.org, or WUSB.org;
because the pigoenholed programming of music channels
on Sirius Satellite, and its internet radio player, suck
d***@gmail.com
2018-11-11 00:29:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by Hoodoo
May 15, 2010
John Davis Chandler: Requiem for a Hollywood heavy
By Sandy Wells - Staff writer
http://wvgazette.com/News/201005150369
http://www.wvgazette.com/mediafiles/thumbs/595/470.79375/chandler6_I100515172332.jpg
In 1971, John Davis Chandler played Skeeter in the movie "Shoot Out"
with Gregory Peck.
http://www.wvgazette.com/mediafiles/thumbs/275/353.47043701799/chandler7_I100515171453.jpg
In this photo from the 1961 film "Mad Dog Coll," former Charleston
resident John Davis Chandler starred as a homicidal gang lord, the bad
guy persona that would follow him throughout his 40-year career.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Loathsome. Vicious. Vile. Creepy. Sniveling,
psychotic, homicidal weasel. Not words you expect to read in an obituary.
On stage, on television and movie screens, Charleston High graduate John
Davis Chandler was all those awful things and more. He played crazed
killers, sadistic hoodlums, dope addicts and punks, the dregs of depravity.
He died in February, barely two weeks past his 73rd birthday.
From his obituary in California's Tolucan Times, published two months
after his death: "He specialized in portraying mean, neurotic and
dangerous villains ... made an impressive film debut in his sole
starring part as the titular sniveling, psychotic, homicidal weasel
gangster in 'Mad Dog Coll' ... made an effectively loathsome appearance
as a vile bushwhacker in the spooky horror western 'The Shadow of
Chikara' ... was excellent as vicious punk Arthur Reardon in 'The Young
Savages.'"
On Feb. 16, a neighbor concerned about Chandler called police. They
found him on the kitchen floor, dead, presumably from a heart attack or
stroke after a long struggle with lung cancer.
His wife, Marti, died of cancer about 15 years ago. Later, a girlfriend
also died of cancer. Chandler lived alone after that, in the same small
apartment he rented in Toluca Lake when he first went to California.
The Tolucan Times obituary, posted online two days later, mentioned
guest spots on such top TV shows as "ER," "Murder, She Wrote," "Hill
Street Blues," "Gunsmoke," "Colombo," "Route 66" and "Fantasy Island."
Chandler acted in more than 60 television productions and nearly 40 movies.
"Chandler paints a terrifying picture of human degradation," a reviewer
said about his performance in "Once a Thief." He portrayed James
Sargatanas, "the epitome of evil."
Director Ralph Nelson said: "For an actor ... to be able to interpret
the evil of human nature as he does in this film is an extraordinary feat."
Friends in Charleston don't remember John Davis Chandler that way.
At Charleston High School, they called him J.D. Or John Davis. Never
just John. He was small and wiry, scholarly and athletic, a blue-eye
blonde with an easy smile and an upbeat personality, the All-American boy.
"He was always mean in the movies, but I never could connect with that
image," said Charleston High classmate Phyllis Murdock Cowley. "He was
jolly, always happy. And you were happy to be around him."
"In his first movie, 'The Young Savages,' he played a killer," said
longtime friend Hal Ashworth, a retired cardiac surgeon in Bluffton,
S.C. "He had this sneer on his face the whole time, and it kind of
labeled him for the rest of his career."
His mother didn't mind his bad-boy persona. "I say it just shows what a
good actor he is, because he never did a mean thing in his life," she
said in a 1978 Charleston Gazette story.
Chandler graduated from Charleston High in 1952. He was vice president
of the student council, ranked at the top of his class academically,
played piano with the symphony and had the lead in most of the school
plays, Ashworth recalled. "He was just an outstanding person all around."
"He was an outstanding actor and a class tennis player," said classmate
Luther Godbey, now of Ocean Isle Beach, N.C. "He had a brilliant mind."
"He was a bit of a character, just a little bit different, a little on
the wild side," said classmate Bob Fletcher.
Described in an Internet article as "the bohemian son of a prominent
Charleston, W.Va., physician," Chandler was born in Hinton on Jan. 28,
1937, the second son of Dr. Arthur C. Chandler, a family physician. His
brother, Art Jr., preceded him by two years.
In 1938, his father moved the family to New York while he received
training in ophthalmology.
Chandler's brother explained his father's switch from family practice to
ophthalmology: "One night, he delivered a baby and his pay was a half
sack of potatoes and half of a ham. He decided try something else."
In 1940, the family moved to Charleston's East End. In 1949, they moved
to South Hills.
"Growing up, he was a little sickly," Art Chandler Jr. said of his
brother. "He had tonsillitis a lot, and there were no antibiotics. So he
was a little fellow, thin."
He idolized his older brother. "He was on me like glue. If anyone picked
on him, I was there."
At private summer camps, he picked up on archery, ran track, played
basketball and won awards as best all-around camper.
John Davis Chandler was about 8 when he fell in love with tennis. "He
had so much natural ability it was unbelievable," his brother said, "but
he wasn't highly competitive. If he lost, he lost. He was basically shy.
He didn't like the accolades that go along with doing too well.
"He was playing in the finals of the Kanawha Valley Junior Tennis
Tournament when he was 17. He roared through the first set. The second
set, he started having trouble. But he won the thing.
"He told me later that he changed his grip in the second set. In the
middle of a tournament, he decided to change his whole approach to the
game."
He did the same thing in life. After high school, he enrolled in pre-med
at Princeton. "I think he just assumed that was what he was supposed to
do," Art said. "Once he got into the science part, he realized it wasn't
for him."
He quit college and ended up with the U.S. Army in Germany. He spent
most of his time playing tennis for the Army, Art said.
"They put out a call for a boxing team," Hal Ashworth recalled. "He'd
never boxed, but he made the team. Then they put out a call for a tennis
team, and he said, 'Wait. That's my game.'"
"I imagine dad was a little disappointed when he decided to forego
college," Art said, "but I never heard him say anything. They realized
J.D. was different.
"When he became somewhat successful in New York, they were happy with
him, and proud."
After he returned from the Army in the late 1950s, Chandler appeared in
several Kanawha Players productions. The day after the last curtain on
"The Front Page," he left for New York to study at the American Academy
of Dramatic Arts.
In a 1957 interview, Chandler told Gazette entertainment writer Bayard
Ennis that he loved the opportunity to be someone else for short periods
of time. "I hope that doesn't sound clinically psychological," he said,
"but it's the only way I have ever been able to analyze the overpowering
interest the stage has for me."
In New York, he worked in summer stock productions and eventually snared
small parts on the New York stage.
In a summer stock version of "Mister Roberts," he caught the eye of
Joyce Selznick of Columbia Pictures. She set up an audition for a movie
about juvenile delinquents, "The Young Savages." He got the part of a
punk in a cast headed by Burt Lancaster, Shelly Winters and Dina Merrill.
Next, Selznick arranged for Chandler to read for his signature role as
Roaring 20s racketeer Vincent Coll in "Mad Dog Coll." Gene Hackman
appeared in the film in a walk-on.
Chandler's small frame, pale complexion and hooded lids over piercing
blue eyes gave him a menacing look suited to despicable scoundrels.
"He would not have done well as a lead actor," his brother said. "He
didn't have the dark good looks, and he wasn't big, just 5-foot-10 and
maybe 150 pounds."
Internet biographies praise his knack for playing unsavory characters,
including a frightening role as creepy Jimmy Hammond in "Ride the High
Country," one of a trio of westerns he appeared in for iconic director
Sam Peckinpah.
He played a bounty hunter in Clint Eastwood's "The Outlaw Josey Wales."
He worked with Charlton Heston in "Major Dundee" and with Ben Gazarra
and Sylvester Stallone in "Capone."
Family members caught him on television by accident. "Somebody would
say, 'I saw J.D. on TV last night,'" his brother said. "He never made a
big deal about it."
An avid yoga disciple, he once spent a year learning yoga techniques at
a monastery founded by Paramahansa Yogananda. "He shaved his head and
wore a white robe," Art said. "He was active in the Self-Realization
Fellowship, a branch of Hinduism. He used to send me books trying to get
me converted."
His mother died in 1992 at 89. His father died four years later, at 92.
Chandler returned to Charleston for their funerals.
By the late 1990s, his acting career was winding down. His last listed
performance was a guest appearance on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" in 1998.
"We talked a couple of weeks before he died," his brother said. "He
asked me a couple of things about dad and mother that I thought he
should have remembered. That was a little disturbing."
Then, on Feb. 16, he got the call from the coroner's office. "They found
my name on his phone list."
Chandler's body was cremated and his ashes were placed in two urns for
burial at two Self-Realization Fellowship churches.
"He had given away many dollars to religious and charitable
organizations," his brother said. "He made a very adequate living. His
dad left him a chunk of money, and he had the Actors Guild stipend.
"They told me when they went through his apartment that he had become a
recluse. They found uncashed residual checks from his movies scattered
around the apartment and in the dashboard of his car dating back to 1986.
"He was not interested in monetary things. He lived moment to moment. I
can't tell you the last time he bought a pair of pants."
Since his death, cultish fans have started to post tributes online. Many
express dismay and anger over the entertainment industry's failure to
acknowledge his passing.
"It saddens me that after 40 years in the business, his death would be
ignored," posted a friend, Theresa Severson of Morrisville, Wis.
The slight wouldn't surprise John Davis Chandler. "He passed away
feeling that no one gave a damn about him," Severson wrote.
--
Trout Mask Replica
KFJC.org, WFMU.org, WMSE.org, or WUSB.org;
because the pigoenholed programming of music channels
on Sirius Satellite, and its internet radio player, suck
It must be a lonely life.

Loading...