Biography

Dour, lantern-jawed character actor John Anderson attended the University of Iowa before inaugurating his performing career on a Mississippi showboat. After serving in the Coast Guard during World War II, Anderson made his Broadway bow, then first appeared on screen in 1952's The Crimson Pirate. The actor proved indispensable to screenwriters trafficking in such stock characters as The Vengeful Gunslinger, The Inbred Hillbilly Patriarch, The Scripture-Spouting Zealot and The Rigid Authority Figure. Anderson's many screen assignments included used-car huckster California Charlie in Psycho (1960), the implicitly incestuous Elder Hammond in Ride the High Country (1962), the title character in The Lincoln Conspiracy (1977) and Caiaphas in In Search of Historic Jesus (1980). A dead ringer for 1920s baseball commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, Anderson portrayed that uncompromising gentleman twice, in 1988's Eight Men Out and the 1991 TV biopic Babe Ruth. A veteran of 500 TV appearances (including four guest stints on The Twilight Zone), John Anderson was seen as FDR in the 1978 miniseries Backstairs in the White House, and on a regular basis as Michael Spencer Hudson in the daytime drama Another World, Virgil Earp in The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (1955-61) and the leading man's flinty father in MacGiver (1985-92). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi