Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Dirty Harry and the Mayor

Just a short look at a Bit Actor in the 1971 hit movie, Dirty Harry.  When your name is listed last in the cast during the titles of a movie, it means you are making your first movie and have a substantial part, or maybe you are just someone special.

John Vernon (1932 - 2005) was listed last in the titles as The Mayor in Dirty Harry, but it was his 15th movie.  He started making movies as Big Brother in 1984 from 1956, and he was uncredited.  He started acting in TV the next year, and worked in both media.

He worked with Clint Eastwood (b. 1930) in this film and also in The Outlaw Josey Wales in 1976.  Other early movies include Point Blank (1967) with Lee Marvin, Tell Them Willie Boy is Here (1969) with Roberts Blake and Redford, and Brannigan (1975) with John Wayne.

His deep, commanding voice made him perfect for these action/detective movies and TV roles.  So in 1978 Vernon got a part in Animal House, and then in 1980 in Herbie Goes Bananas.  I guess to show that he could do comedy as well.

A mix of genres continues for the rest of his career.  Airplane II: The Sequel (1982), The Blood of Others (1984), Ernest Goes to Camp (1987), I'm Gonna Git You Sucka (1988), Malicious (1995), and the like.

That's quite a mix of movies.  So it shows how a good Bit Actor can get work anywhere and remain in demand, even though John Vernon was never a really big star and didn't really make any A-list movies.


  1. I liked John Vernon, especially in the role of Fletcher in The Outlaw Josey Wales which is one of my favourite westerns.

  2. Vernon had a distinctive voice that I think helped his career. Actors usually develop a voice like that if they do theater and have to project it. His versatility is wonderful, westerns, comedies, action, etc.


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