'Enter The Dragon' Co-Star John Saxon Dies At 83

WBBM Newsradio Staff
July 26, 2020 - 8:29 am
John Saxon

John Saxon in 2013 (Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images)

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(WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- John Saxon, the handsome and athletic actor best known for his work on television and in cult-movie fare like "Enter the Dragon" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street," has died. He was 83.

The Brooklyn native died Saturday of pneumonia in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Saxon's wife, Gloria told The Hollywood Reporter. 

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His career as an actor began early for Saxon, following a stint as a model, in the 1950s. His appearances ranged from supporting roles to leading parts, and the Italian-American played a variety of ethnicities. In the 1972 Clint Eastwood Western "Joe Kidd," for example, he portrayed a Mexican revolutionary. 

It was his significant role in the Hong Kong-Hollywood production "Enter the Dragon" that Saxon may best be remembered for. In the 1973 blockbuster, Saxon played a cheeky, slightly dissipated gambler named Roper who goes to a secretive martial-arts tournament that masks a criminal operation. Although Saxon enjoyed considerable screen time, it was co-star Bruce Lee who stole the movie with his martial-arts prowess. Saxon, who had some previous training, followed Lee's fight choreography. 

Lee died in July 1973, at age 32, weeks before his only mainstream film was released. It has become an action movie classic and part of pop culture.

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Never a major star, Saxon enjoyed steady employement in a variety of television shows and films. In the original "A Nightmare on Elm Street" in 1984, he played a parent and police detective who was powerless to stop supernatural villain Freddy Krueger. Saxon had recurring roles in the '80s-era prime-time soap operas "Dynasty" and "Falcon Crest," among many credits.