John Vernon, whose distinctive baritone and indelible screen presence brought class and weight to such roles as Dean Vernon Wormer in Animal House and Rupert Thorne in Batman: The Animated Series, has died at the age of 72.
According to his family, the Saskatchewan-born Vernon – who became known for playing villains, sinister officials and unsympathetic authority figures – died peacefully at his Los Angeles home Tuesday.
Click "Read More" for a bit of background about John.
Source: Toonzone and CBC News
Born Adolphus Raymondus Vernon Agopsowicz, he started acting while attending high school in the community of Zehner, located northeast of Regina. He went on to study at the Banff School of Fine Arts and at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.
He spent time working in theatre troupes in London and at the Stratford Festival of Canada.
Vernon's stage training led to a job performing live in the early days of CBC-TV, which he recalled fondly in a 1988 interview. "Live TV was something else," he said. "An actor got to do Chekhov one week, Shakespeare a few weeks later."
Wojeck, which turned out to be his breakthrough role, was one of the CBC's first filmed series, Vernon said. "They hadn't even drawn up contracts to cover such things as actors' residuals."
Though he did only 20 episodes of the show, based on the exploits of Toronto coroner Dr. Morton Shulman, "the reaction was so strong that it reached the attention of some Hollywood producers, who brought me to L.A.," he said.
Vernon did voice work for several animated TV series based on comics (including Captain America, Iron Man, and The Marvel Superheroes) before being cast in the 1967 gangster classic Point Blank.
His prolific Hollywood resumé also included Dirty Harry, Alfred Hitchcock's 1969 cold war thriller Topaz and the Clint Eastwood western The Outlaw Josey Wales, as well as comedies like John Landis's Animal House, in which he played Dean Vernon Wormer, and the 1988 blaxploitation spoof I'm Gonna Git You Sucka.
Altogether, he appeared in more than 100 TV shows and films but returned to voice work, primarily for video games, in the last 10 years.