• 30 December 1892
  •  Albany, Wisconsin, USA

John Litel


John Litel's tough, no-nonsense demeanor on screen was not entirely due to his skill as an actor--when World War I broke out he enlisted in the French army, not wanting to wait until the US entered, and was twice decorated for bravery. Returning to the US after the war, he enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and toured with various stage companies, making his film debut in 1929. He was one of what was called the "Warner Bros. Stock Company" in the 1930s--with such character actors as Ward Bond, Frank McHugh, Joan Blondell, George Tobias, Henry O'Neill and Alan Hale, among others--and he appeared in dozens of films there, often as a tough police captain, hard-nosed district attorney, no-nonsense business executive and other such authority figures. He could also convincingly play villains, as when he played the evil "Scorpion" in the classic serial Don Winslow of the Navy (1942). Always a solid, dependable character actor, Litel appeared in more than 200 films, sometimes playing leads but mainly as a supporting actor. From 1952-53 he played Robert Cummings' brooding boss Mr. Thackery in the NBC-TV sitcom My Hero (1952).