I've got to say it - I love this guy! When I see his name come up in the credits, it just makes me smile.
John Litel was born in Wisconsin in 1892. When World War I broke out, he enlisted in the French Army, not wanting to wait until America joined the war. He was decorated twice for bravery, so, John Litel didn't just play heroes, he really was one.
He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and upon his return from service in WWI he enrolled in the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He toured with with stock companies and played opposite such actresses as Ann Harding and future Warner Brother's co-star, Joan Blondell. Though his first film appearance was in "The Sleeping Porch" in 1929, he continued to work primarily on stage for the next few years, receiving many critical accolades, particularly for his performance as Dizzy Davis in the 1932 stage stage play, "Ceiling Zero."
Once John Litel became part of what was informally known as "The Warner Brothers Stock Company" in the mid 1930's, he never stopped working. Sometimes the lead, but more often than not, playing in support, he was cast as authority figures such as police officers, business executives and attorneys. Litel appeared in over 154 films including" "Black Legion," "The Life of Emile Zola," "They Died With Their Boots On, "Comet Over Broadway," "Castle On The Hudson," "Crime Doctor" (where he played against type as the film's villain) and in the Nancy Drew and Henry Aldrich film series. As television came along, John Litel continued to be an in-demand actor in such series as: "Zorro," "Have Gun Will Travel," "Bonanza" and "77 Sunset Strip." Litel worked up until nearly the end of his life, dying in 1972 at the age of 77.
Coming up next: Clara Blandick
Yes, John Litel made an impact in the many fine films he was featured in. One WB picture that is an unsung hero (well because it is a Davis picture that isn't often mentioned as much as her other films are), is Marked Women. Here Litel plays a lawyer for a mobster. He plays the role with just the right amount of detachment; Yea he is working for the mob but he isn't one of them.
Always a treat to see John in a role regardless of the size of said role. The type of supporting player that made the golden era what it is.
PS: keep up the fine work. LOVE this thread!