John van Dreelen

John van Dreelen

van Dreelen in 1964
Born Jacques van Drielen Gimberg
(1922-05-22)May 22, 1922
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died September 4, 1992(1992-09-04) (aged 70)
Cap d'Agde, Hérault, France
Years active 1948-1992

John van Dreelen (5 May 1922 – 4 September 1992) was a Dutch-born American-based actor, who frequently performed on television from the 1960s to the 1980s. He was born as Jacques van Drielen Gimberg and until 1950 his stage name was Jack Gimberg, at which time he changed it to John van Dreelen.

Life and career

The son of Dutch actor and director Louis Gimberg, van Dreelen was born in Amsterdam. He was fluent in several languages, he escaped the Emslandlager labor camp near Papenburg by disguising himself as one of the German officers he would later play so often on both big and small screens. Though he appeared in many European films, van Dreelen is best remembered as an A-list guest star in dozens of American television shows from the early 1960s to the mid-1980s, such as 12 O'Clock High, The Twilight Zone ("The Jeopardy Room"), The Man from UNCLE, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Blue Light, and Mission: Impossible. In 1962, he played the part of Ulrich in the episode "The Immigrants" on CBS's Rawhide. In 1964 he played a film producer (and murderer) in the Perry Mason episode, "The Case of the Bountiful Beauty." In 1965 he was again cast as the murderer in the episode, "The Case of the Feather Cloak."

Never a major player in theatrical films, he nonetheless scored a few choice roles, including the Danish concert pianist who rescues and woos Lana Turner during an extended sequence in Madame X in 1966. Four episodes of Blue Light were edited together to create the theatrical film I Deal in Danger, which was released in December 1966 and included his appearance. His other film credits included roles in Von Ryan's Express (1965), Topaz (1969), Lost Horizon (1973), The Big Game (1973), The Clone Master (1978), The Formula (1980), The Money Pit (1986) and Born to Fight (1989), as well as TV miniseries such as The Rhinemann Exchange, The Word and Washington: Behind Closed Doors. Van Dreelen also enjoyed an international stage career and starred in a Dutch staging of My Fair Lady as well as the original American touring production of The Sound of Music. (According to the actor, Richard Rodgers wanted van Dreelen and Audrey Hepburn to play the film's leads.)


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