Sad news arrived Thursday afternoon for fans of colorful actors. John Phillip Law, who appeared in dozens of movies over a career that spanned more than four decades, died on Tuesday from undisclosed causes, according to the Associated Press. He was 70 years old.

As noted at his official site, Law took on roles both big and small, in epic blockbusters and tiny independents, all over the world. He began his acting career on Broadway before getting nominated for a Golden Globe Award as Most Promising Newcomer for playing an endearingly sweet Russian seaman in Norman Jewison's The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming in 1965. He swiftly moved on to meatier parts in films that later became enduring cult favorites -- Giulio Petroni's Death Rides a Horse, Mario Bava's Diabolik, and, especially, Roger Vadim's Barbarella, in which he played a blind angel.

As his career continued, the overall quality of his films varied wildly, but he could be counted upon for level-headed performances, always looking like a proper dignified gentleman no matter his surroundings. I think my first exposure to him was when he played the title role in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad; he looked very heroic to me as he battled mythical creatures, but I also loved him in Open Season, snapping off words as the nastiest kind of all-American villain. Demonstrating his versatility, both films came out the same year (1974).

In the '80s and '90s he dabbled in television, making appearances on The Love Boat and Murder, She Wrote, while continuing to make films. As Joe Leydon noted, he was "a good sport about cameoing in CQ, Roman Coppola's uneven 2001 homage to the sort of tacky European-produced B-movies that provided gainful employment for Law during his heyday in '60s and '70s." Law's tall, soulful, rangy good looks will be missed on the silver screen.

[ Via Joe Leydon's Moving Picture Blog ]
CATEGORIES Obits, Cinematical