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  • Writer's pictureEric J. Cullen

IN MEMORIAM: John Saxon Passes Away

In the world of horror, John Saxon will always be remembered as Nancy Thompson's sheriff father from the classic 80's horror flick, A Nightmare on Elm Street. But John Saxon's career was more than this one role and his career in Hollywood that started in the 1950s, would continue to grow and entertain for more than six decades.

Born Carmine Orrico in Brooklyn, New York on August 5th, 1936, to parents who immigrated from Italy, Saxon would discover acting after high school. 'John Saxon' was a stage name created by Carmine Orrico when he was first contracted by agent Henry Willson and later Universal Studios. Saxon would go on to star in some of the best known movies in the history of film.

John Saxon got his break in Hollywood as a teen idol, starring in many films with some of the town's biggest idols at the time like Mamie Van Doren, Sal Mineo and Debbie Reynolds. Unfortunately for Saxon, his early career didn't move past its 'teen idol' stage and in the 1960s, John decided to travel to Italy where he enjoyed making westerns and other films around Europe.

In the 1970s, John would catch one of his biggest roles yet as Roper from 1973's Enter the Dragon. Saxon, already well-trained in Judo, Shotokan Karate and later Jeet Kune Do, would star alongside Bruce Lee and Jim Kelly, in a film that would be considered a classic for generations to come. The next year, Saxon would star in Bob Clark's Christmas slasher classic, Black Christmas. No stranger to horror, and before his time with some of the biggest names in horror, John Saxon would film a Mexican horror film called The Bees. The film would be pushed back because of a similar film already released.

In 1982, John Saxon would take on a small role in Dario Argento's Italian gaillo film, Tenebrae. Later in 1984, John would get the role of Lt. Donald Thompson in Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street, a role that would cement his place in Hollywood history. A Nightmare on Elm Street was a hit with audiences and would lead to Saxon reprising his role of Lt. Donald Thompson, two more times, the last time being in 1994 in Wes Craven's A New Nightmare.

In the later days of his Hollywood career, John Saxon would pop up in films from time to time, like in 1996's From Dusk till Dawn directed by Robert Rodriguez and written by Quentin Tarantino. On television, John could be seen on CSI and in a return to horror with Masters of Horror. John's last role before his passing will be seen in Bring Me the Head of Lance Henriksen, which is currently in post-production.

John Saxon leaves behind a Hollywood legacy of films that range in category from drama, western, horror, all the way to the small screen. His work, especially in horror, will not be forgotten by the community, and will be remembered for even more generations to come.

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ERIC J. CULLEN is a writer currently residing in California. A fan of horror since childhood, Eric spends his free time developing Horror Junket, writing screenplays, HODLING, as well as producing films in the horror genre. Eric is currently the future owner of a 1958 Plymouth Fury.

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