John Vernon was a prolific stage-trained Canadian character player who made a career out of convincingly playing crafty villains, morally-bankrupt officials and heartless authority figures in American films and television since the 1960s. Vernon was directed by some stellar filmmakers, including Alfred Hitchcock (Topaz (1969)); George Cukor (Justine (1969)); Don Siegel (Dirty Harry (1971)) and Clint Eastwood (The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)). After training at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and honing his skills in Canadian theatre and television, Vernon made his US film debut in John Boorman’s noir/gangster classic Point Blank (1967) as a trusted friend who betrays Lee Marvin. He again failed to inspire confidence as the ineffectual mayor of San Francisco in Dirty Harry (1971). Vernon may be best remembered as the sinister Dean Vernon Wormer in John Landis’ National Lampoon’s Animal House (1978), a role he reprised for the TV spin-off Delta House (1979). This led to more film comedy roles, a highlight being Mr. Big in the blaxploitation spoof I’m Gonna Git You Sucka (1988).
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