R.I.P. JOHN DAVIS CHANDLER 1/28/35 - 2/16/10


(PHOTO: RARE STILL FROM "WHISKEY MOUNTAIN")

Very little has been said about the talented (and under-appreciated) character actor, John Davis Chandler, within in own lifetime. I find it even more tragic that next-to-nothing has been posted about his passing.


Born on January 28, 1935, in Hinton, West Virginia, John Davis Chandler was always short... with fair hair, a fairer complexion, piercing blue eyes, and a rough, seasoned voice. Because of these stark physical attributes, Chandler was often typecast as ruthless, neurotic villains. From his impressive film debut as a homicidal gang lord in Mad Dog Coll (1961) to his astounding work with the iconic director Sam Peckinpah ("Ride the High Country" 1962, "Major Dundee" 1965, and "Pat Garret & Billy the Kid" 1973).

Beside working with cinematic masters such as John Frankenheimer, Ralph Nelson, John Hough, and Clint Eastwood... Chandler also appeared in three highly entertaining drive-in exploitation films by regional cult director William Grefé. In "HOOKED GENERATION" (1968), he was in top form playing a crazed, doped-up flunky named Acid. In "Mako: The Jaws of Death", Chandler portrayed a menacing shark poacher (alongside James Bond henchman Harold Sakata). And finally, in "Whiskey Mountain", Chandler plays a delusional marijuana farmer.

In 2008, I interviewed Chandler in the home of Jimmy Maslin (the Herschell Gordon Lewis biographer) for the William Grefé documentary. Even then, almost two full years from this date, Chandler was very ill. But his memory was sharp and his 'behind the scene' recollections were priceless. This interview will be featured in "THEY CAME FROM THE SWAMP: The Films of William Grefé".

(PHOTO: JOHN CHANDLER IN "THEY CAME FROM THE SWAMP")


I am thankful for the brief time I got to know this legendary character actor. From our conversations about the various new trends in health foods and herbal supplements (he was an avid nutritionist and a yoga practitioner), to our debates on whether or not people would 'give a damn' about any of the documentaries I am working on (he felt that everyone lives in the moment and are not concerned about history... especially his own). Thankfully, his legacy continues in the monumental body of work he leaves behind. He will be missed, indeed.

Special thanks to Chris Poggiali at TEMPLE OF SCHLOCK for bringing this to my attention.

OFFICIAL OBITUARY:
Character actor John Davis Chandler passed away on 2/16/10. John was born in West Virginia and moved to Southern California at an early age. He made his home in Toluca Lake. He was an avid practitioner of yoga. Short and thin, with fair hair, piercing blue eyes, he specialized in portraying mean, neurotic and dangerous villains. He made an impressive film debut in his sole starring part as the titular sniveling, psychotic, homicidal weasel gangster in Mad Dog Coll. He acted in a trio of Westerns for director Sam Peckinpah and is especially memorable as the creepy Jimmy Hammond in the magnificent Ride in the High County. He was excellent as vicious punk Arthur Reardon in The Young Savages. He made an effectively loathsome appearance as a vile bushwhacker in the supremely spooky horror-western The Shadow of Chikara. He had a nice bit as a bounty hunter in Clint Eastwood’s terrific The Outlaw Josey Wales. He played a foul shark poacher in Jaws. Over the years, John did many television guest spots on such shows as: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Walker, Texas Ranger, Chicago Hope, ER, Simon & Simon, Hunter, Murder, She Wrote, Hill Street Blues, T.J. Hooker, Fantasy Island, The Incredible Hulk, Police Woman, Gunsmoke, Adam-12, The Fugitive, Combat, The Rifleman, Triumphs of a Man Called Horse, The Little Dragons, Whiskey Mountain, Colombo, High Chaparral, The Treasure Seekers, Route 66 and The Men from Shiloh. He is survived by a brother, Arthur Chandler, and the many friends that he made along his journey here on earth. He will be greatly missed.