John Williams was a tall, urbane Anglo-American actor best known for his role as Chief Inspector Hubbard in Dial M for Murder (1954), a role he played on Broadway, in Alfred Hitchcock’s classic 1954 film, and on television in 1958. Playing Hubbard on the Great White Way brought him the 1953 Tony Award as Best Featured Actor in a Play. “Dial M for Murder” was the 27th Broadway play he had appeared in since making his New York debut in “The Fake” in 1924, which he had originally appeared in back in his native England.
Williams was born on April 15, 1903 in Buckinghamshire and attended Lancing College. He first trod the boards as a teenager in a 1916 production of Peter Pan (1924). He moved to America in the mid-1920s and was a busy and constantly employed stage actor for 30 years. After “Dial M for Murder” in the 1953-54 season, though, he appeared in only four more Broadway plays between 1955 and 1970 as he focused on movies and television.
In addition to “Dial M for Murder”, he appeared in Hitchcock’s The Paradine Case (1947) and in To Catch a Thief (1955) and in 10 episodes of the TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955). For Billy Wilder, he appeared in Sabrina (1954) and Witness for the Prosecution (1957). Beginning in the 1960s, most of his work was in television, including a nine-episode stint on Family Affair (1966) taking over Sebastian Cabot’s duties as Brian Keith’s butler when Cabot was waylaid by health problems.
He retired in the late ’70s, his last acting gig being an appearance on Battlestar Galactica (1978) in 1979. He was known by many in the last phase of his career for his work on one of the first TV infomercials, when he served as the pitchman for a classical music record collection called “120 Music Masterpieces.”
John Williams died on May 5, 1983 in La Jolla, California from an aneurysm. He was 80 years old.
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