John Howard (American actor)

For other people with the same name, see John Howard (disambiguation).
John Howard
Born John Richard Cox, Jr.
(1913-04-14)April 14, 1913
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
Died February 19, 1995(1995-02-19) (aged 81)
Santa Rosa, California, U.S.
Cause of death Heart failure
Alma mater Case Western Reserve University
Years active 1934-1978
Spouse(s) Eva Ralf (m 1954- d 1995)
Children 4 (Dale, Daniel, Deborah and Deirdre)

John Howard (April 14, 1913 February 19, 1995) was an American actor noted for his work in both film and television.

Early life

Born John Richard Cox, Jr. in Cleveland, Ohio, he was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of what is now Case Western Reserve University. At college he discovered a love for the theater, and took part in student productions.


Eventually, Howard became a contract player for Paramount, working in a dozen pictures before getting his first big role as Ronald Colman's younger brother in Lost Horizon.[1] He soon took over for Colman in the Bulldog Drummond series of films, starring in seven of the features (1937–39), and maintaining the film version of the detective. Howard's next major assignment was as Katharine Hepburn's fiancé in The Philadelphia Story (1940), competing for her attention with both Cary Grant and James Stewart.

Military service

He served in the Navy during World War II, eventually as Executive Officer aboard a minesweeper USS YMS-24 where he participated in landing operations at Sicily, Salerno, Anzio, and deception operations against Sardinia and Southern France.[2] When his vessel struck a mine off the French coast in August, 1944, killing the captain and severely damaging the ship, Howard took over command and fought to save his ship and crew, even jumping into the sea to save several wounded sailors. For his actions he was awarded both the US Navy Cross and the French Croix de Guerre.

Return to acting

Upon his return to Hollywood, Howard was given the lead in smaller projects, but limited to supporting roles in feature pictures. Even his performance as Laraine Day's husband in The High and the Mighty (1954) did not generate any opportunities to break the pattern. Howard made his Broadway debut in Hazel Flagg in 1953, where he met his future wife, ballerina and actress Eva Ralf.

Howard then played the lead in two American television series Dr. Hudson's Secret Journal and later Adventures of the Sea Hawk in 1958. He found a friendship with Fred MacMurray, star of My Three Sons, and was a regular guest star on the show, playing Fred MacMurray's boss. Howard became one of the first screen actors to commit to working in the new field of television and continued to make occasional film appearances until the mid-1970s. Early in 1961, he guest starred as Captain Chilcoath in the episode "Rebellion at Blazing Rock" of the 17-week NBC series, The Americans.

Career change to education

In time, Howard moved into academia. He taught English at Highland Hall Waldorf School for more than twenty years and helped to start the high school program at the institution.


He died in 1995 of heart failure, aged 81, in Santa Rosa, California, survived by his wife Eva and their four children, Daniel, Deborah, Dale, and Deirdre. He was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Partial filmography

Film Year Role Notes
Millions in the Air 1935 Eddie Warren
Thirteen Hours by Air 1935 Freddie Scott
Valiant Is the Word for Carrie 1936 Paul Darnley
Lost Horizon 1937 George Conway
Hitting a New High 1937 Jimmy James
"Bulldog Drummond Comes Back" 1937 Hugh C. Drummond
That Navy Spirit 1937 Chuck Baldwin
Penitentiary 1938 William Jordan
Arrest Bulldog Drummond

Bulldog Drummond's Secret Police



Capt. Hugh Drummond

Capt. Hugh Drummond



Bulldog Drummond's Bride 1939 Capt. Hugh Drummond Lead
The Man from Dakota 1940 Lt. Oliver Clark
Texas Rangers Ride Again 1940 James Kingston aka Pecos Kid Lead
The Philadelphia Story 1940 George Kittredge
The Invisible Woman 1940 Richard Russell
The Mad Doctor 1941 Gil Sawyer
Tight Shoes 1941 Jimmy Rupert Lead
Father Takes a Wife 1941 Frederic Osborne Junior
Three Girls About Town 1941 Tommy Hopkins
A Tragedy at Midnight 1942 Greg Sherman Lead
The Man Who Returned to Life 1942 David Hampton Jameson/George Bishop Lead
Submarine Commander 1942 Commander Chris Warren Lead
Isle of Missing Men 1942 Merrill Hammond Lead
The Undying Monster 1942 Oliver Hammond
Love from a Stranger 1947 Nigel Lawrence
I, Jane Doe 1948 William Hilton
The Fighting Kentuckian 1949 Blake Randolph
Make Haste to Live 1954 Josh Blake
The High and the Mighty 1954 Howard Rice
Capone 1975 Warden J. Johnston last film


TV series Year Role Episode
Lawman 1960 Lance Creedy episode: The Showdown
Wagon Train 1960 Colonel James Harris episode: The Colonel Harris Story
Cheyenne 1960 John Thompson episode: Home Is the Brave
Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color 1962 Mayor Wood episodes: Moochie of Pop Warner Football: Pee Wees Versus City Hall & Moochie of Pop Warner Football: From Ticonderoga to Disneyland
Rawhide 1962 James Carr episode: The Captain's Wife
Perry Mason (TV series) 1964 Harley Leonard episode: The Case of the Ruinous Road
The Legend of Jesse James 1966 Dr. Samuel episode: 1863
Family Affair 1967 Myron Fox episode: Star Dust
Mannix 1969 Dr. Daniels episode: A Question of Midnight
The Brady Bunch 1971-1972 Dr. Howard & Doctor episodes: Coming Out Party & Today, I Am a Freshman
Mission: Impossible 1972 Foreman episode: Committed
Mod Squad 1973 Dr. Brandson episode: Put Out the Welcome Mat for Death
The New Perry Mason 1973-1974 Judge Channing & Judge episodes: The Case of the Ominous Oath & The Case of the Tortured Titan
Police Woman 1974 Leland Perrier episode: The End Game
Bronk 1976 Judge Sheehan episode: Long Time Dying
Little House on the Prairie 1976 Hiram Potter episode: The Pride of Walnut Grove
Wonder Woman 1977 Dr. Diderich episode: Last of the $2 Bills
Police Woman 1977 David Earl episode: Bondage
The Rockford Files 1978 Mort episodes: Black Mirror: Parts 1 & 2


  1. Weaver, Tom John Howard Interview Science Fiction Stars and Horror Heroes: Interviews with Actors, Directors, Producers and Writers of the 1940s Through 1960s McFarland, 2006
  2. St. Petersburg Times - Feb 15, 1957


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