Actor. Sad-eyed, sensitive character player and occasional lead in Hollywood films. Born John Dall Thompson in New York City, he studied acting at the Theodore Irvine School of the Theatre and at the Pasadena Playhouse. On Broadway from 1941, he worked his way up from bit parts to the lead of the hit comedy “Dear Ruth” (1944). Dall received an Academy Award nomination (best supporting actor) for his first movie role, appearing opposite Bette Davis in “The Corn is Green” (1945). The stage remained his first love and his subsequent screen career was sporadic, but still had its great moments. He was effectively cast against type as a cooly charismatic murderer in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rope” (1948), and is unforgettable in the noir classic “Gun Crazy” (1950), playing a decent loser with a gun fetish dragged into a life of crime by his femme fatale wife. Following a decade away from Hollywood he returned to play the weak Roman commander Glabrus in “Spartacus” (1960). His other credits include the films “Something in the Wind” (1947), “Another Part of the Forest” (1948), “The Man Who Created Himself” (1950), and “Atlantis, The Lost Continent” (1961), the role of the gold-digging suitor Morris Townsend in the 1950 Broadway revival of “The Heiress”, and episodes of TV’s “Studio One”, “General Electric Theatre”, “Schlitz Playhouse of the Stars”, and “Perry Mason”. Dall died of a reported heart attack at 52.
- May, 26, 1918
- New York
- January, 15, 1971
- Body donated to medical science