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October 10, 2015

'Dynasty' Actor John Forsythe Dead at 92

by Allison Waldman, posted Apr 2nd 2010 4:08PM
john_forsythe_2010_headshotThe distinguished actor and television leading man, John Forsythe, passed away yesterday at his home in Santa Ynez, California, following a year-long battle with cancer. According to his publicist, Harlon Boll, the 92-year-old actor succumbed to complications of pneumonia.

John Forsythe is best known for two iconic roles on television, only one of which included his appearance. On 'Charlie's Angels,' the hit ABC jiggle-cop show of the 1970s, Forsythe was the voice of Charlie Townsend, the man who hired Kelly, Sabrina and Jill as investigators in the Townsend detective agency.

As the ladies convened in the office with Charlie's intermediary, Bosley, Charlie gave them their assignment via speakerphone. It was a gimmick, but a brilliant one, and Forsythe's familiar voice was a personality all its own. He personalized the unseen Charlie, making him seem as though he was right there with the girls. They loved him, and so did viewers, even though you never ever saw Charlie.

Years after the TV show ended, Forsythe was again cast as Charlie's voice in the film version of the series in 2000. Forsythe's last credit, in fact, was the 2003 sequel to 'Charlie's Angels.'

In 1981, John Forsythe landed his most important television role of his career – Blake Carrington on ABC's prime time soap opera 'Dynasty.' The role, ironically, had been handed to George Peppard, but he objected to the character's shady morality and the producers turned to Forsythe, their second choice. It turned out to be inspired casting.

With is silver fox hair and strong leading man demeanor, Forsythe was good at being bad and yet a heroic character at the same time. Whether romancing Linda Evan's Krystal or fighting tooth and nail with Blake's ex-wife Alexis, Joan Collins, Forsythe was commanding and dynamic. Forsythe never played Blake Carrington as anything other than a man who loved his family, loved his life, and was determined to succeed.

A self-made millionaire, Blake was a complicated man with questionable ethics. This was perfect for a primetime soap leading man, and unlike someone like Larry Hagman's JR Ewing, there was a lot more about Blake that was realistic and relatable. He wasn't all good, but he wasn't all bad either. Through all the seasons of the show, even when Blake did hateful things like rejecting his homosexual son, you forgave him.

When the show finally ended in 1989, John Forsythe was at the height of his career. He continued working in television as one of the most popular guest stars on other programs.

Before 1976, when 'Charlie's Angels' began, John Forsythe was a well-known television and film star. He'd done the situation comedies 'Bachelor Father' in 1957, 'The John Forsythe Show' in 1965, and 'To Rome With Love' in 1969, as well as dozens of episodic TV shows. On film, he'd starred in two Alfred Hitchcock films, 'The Trouble with Harry' and 'Topaz.'

John Forsythe was born January 29, 1918, in Penn's Grove, New Jersey.

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