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John Hodiak

in A Lady Without Passport (1950)
Born John Hodiak
April 16, 1914(1914-04-16)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died October 19, 1955 (aged 41)
Tarzana, California, U.S.
Spouse(s) Anne Baxter (1946-1953) (divorced)

John Hodiak (April 16, 1914 – October 19, 1955) was an American actor who worked in Radio and Film.

He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Walter Hodiak (October 25, 1888 – August 21, 1962) and Anna Pogorzelec (February 28, 1888 – October 17, 1971). He was of Ukrainian and Polish descent. He grew up in Hamtramck, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit.

Hodiak had his first smell of greasepaint at age eleven, acting in Ukrainian and Russian plays at the Ukrainian Catholic Church. From the moment he first appeared on the stage, he resolved to become an actor. He was not even swayed when as a third baseman on his local high school baseball team, he was offered a contract with a St. Louis Cardinals farm club. He turned the offer down.

When Hodiak first tried out for a radio acting job, he was turned down because of his accent. He became a caddy at a Detroit golf course, then worked at a Chevrolet automobile factory – and practiced his diction. When he conquered the diction hurdle, he became a radio actor and moved to Chicago. There he created the role of the comic strip character Li'l Abner on radio.

After a short stint in the Army, he arrived in Hollywood in 1942 and signed a motion picture contract with MGM. He refused to change his name, saying, "I like my name. It sounds like I look."

Hodiak was cast in a few small parts at his home studio. He then caught the eye of director Alfred Hitchcock and, on loan-out to 20th Century Fox, emerged as a major movie star in Lifeboat (1944) opposite Tallulah Bankhead. More big roles followed, notably that of Maj. Joppolo in A Bell For Adano (1945) opposite Gene Tierney.

He had one wife, actress Anne Baxter (married July 7, 1946-divorced January 27, 1953). They had one daughter, Katrina Hodiak (born July 9, 1951).

In 1953, Hodiak went to New York and made his Broadway debut in The Chase. The play was a failure, but its star received fantastic critical notices. He then originated the role of Lieutenant Maryk in Paul Gregory's production of the play The Caine Mutiny Court Martial by Herman Wouk adapted from his novel The Caine Mutiny. The play ran for two years and Hodiak's portrayal brought him nationwide acclaim.

When the show closed after its U.S. tour, Hodiak began work on Trial (1955) at MGM, playing the prosecuting attorney. When it wrapped, he played Major Ward Thomas in On The Threshold of Space (1956) at 20th Century Fox.

At the age of forty-one, Hodiak suffered a fatal heart attack in the bathroom of the Tarzana, California home he built for his parents. He was shaving and getting ready to go to the studio to complete his scenes in On The Threshold of Space. It was later decided his performance was far enough along to release the movie. He is interred in Block 303, Crypt D-1, of the main mausoleum at Calvary Cemetery, Los Angeles.

John Hodiak has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in Radio at 6101 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood.

Filmography

References

External links

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