DEATH SCENE DOG
DEATH SCENE DOG
In Gunsmoke, John Dehner and Lawrence Dobkin
were the two actors with voices and personalities
imposing enough to match William Conrad's,
so they played the badmen who could be imagined
to threaten Matt in a willful or physical way.
Harry Bartell's voice was thin and light,
so he played more circumspect baddies.
Ben Phillips had the boom in his voice,
but not the evil edge, and he was not given enough
baddie roles to sharpen it. Vic Perrin too
had the voice to go deep, but only with characters
of depth, and he couldn't instantly villain it up
at the drop of a hat like Dehner and Dobkin.
Like other radio actors, John Dehner tried his hand at writing.
For Escape and Suspense, he wrote several scripts which were troubling
and more violent than the typical episodes of both shows.
'The Man With The Steel Teeth'
'Benchillina and The Fisherman'
'Lily and The Colonel'
Dehner mostly played baddies & bullies in Dodge,
but in other towns he was the law.
He was the uncompromising 'Wild Jack Rhett'
in two Escape productions, and he also did a brief audition
of the Gunsmoke prototype 'Mark Dillon Goes to Gouge Eye.'
He played an early Tom Mix working as a U.S. Marshal
in The Hallmark Hall Of Fame episode 'Tom Mix.'
All these serious performances eventually led to a role years later
in an episode of tv's Lawman, 'The Long Gun'—
that of an unnerved worn-out marshal reduced to waiting
at a hotel window with a rifle,
with the intent of ambushing an outlaw.
Gunsmoke listeners who are used to John Dehner
as a menacingly deep-voiced nasty baddie,
will be surprised that he had a completely different career
playing mild, responsible, and gentle regular-joe fellas
who were ideal love interests
to female leads on such shows as Lux and Romance.
Lux 'One Last September' Liz's love interest, Ken.
Romance 'Madame .44' Prudence's love interest, Jack.
Romance 'Colomba' Eileen's love interest, Paulo.
Romance 'The China Run' Jane's love interest, Captain McCoy.
Escape 'An Ordinary Man' Mild-mannered guy pretending to be otherwise.
Radio detective shows had a fondness
for movie pair Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lorre,
or rather the fat man's speech patterns
and Lorre's stringy violin whines.
In the insurance investigator series Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar,
Edgar Barrier and James Nusser did a version of the duo
in the episode 'The Amita Buddha Matter.'
Later, in 'The Templeton Matter,' John Dehner would play Sydney solo,
no Lorre, but he couldn't be more Greenstreet.
Dehner is in a cute bit in the YTJD episode 'The Story of the 10:08,'
where he plays Ben Sanchez,
who wants more butterscotch on his sundae.
Alright, you've heard John Dehner play every manner of rôle,
but have you ever heard him play... an African witch doctor?
And living with mahogany trees
in the snowy and icy Ruwenzori mountain range, no less.
What is the horrible secret behind the mahogany drums,
and what are the 'hearts' trapped within them?
Check out the Tarzan episode 'A Drum Without a Heart.'
Copyright © 2010-2013 E. A. Villafranca, Jr.
All Rights Reserved