Thursday, January 28, 2010

Godspeed Character Actor Johnny Seven

Character actor Johnny Seven, perhaps best known for playing the recurring role of Lt. Carl Reese on Ironside, passed on January 22 at the age of 83. The cause was lung cancer.

Johnny Seven was born John Anthony Fetto II on February 23, 1926 in Brooklyn, the only son among six children. During World War II he served with the 187th Gun Battalion in the United States Army. It was while in the Army that he earned the nickname "Johnny Seven," which he retained as his stage name after the war. It was while he was in the United States Army that he took an interest in acting after appearing in several USO shows.

Following the war Johnny Seven returned to New York City, where he worked in various off-Broadway productions. He made his film debut in an uncredited role as a longshoreman in On the Waterfront. In 1954 he made his television debut, in an episode of Inner Sanctum. Throughout the Fifties he appeared in such shows as The Phil Silvers Show, The D. A.'s Man, Mike Hammer, Peter Gunn, The Lawless Years, and Tightrope He also appeared in the films Johnny Gunman, Never Steal Anything Small, The Last Mile, and That Kind of Woman.

In 1960 Johnny Seven appeared as Karl Matuschka (Miss Kubelik's brother in law) in The Apartment. He guest starred in the shows Michael Shayne, Route 66, and Bat Masterson. In the Sixties Seven appeared in the shows 87th Precinct, The Detectives Starring Robert Taylor, The Untouchables, Naked City, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Get Smart, Batman, The Wild Wild West, and Lancer. He appeared in the movies The Greatest Story Ever Told, Navajo Run, What Did You Do in the War, Daddy, Gunfight in Abilene, The Destructors, and The Love God. It was in 1968 that Johnny Seven was cast in the role of Lt. Carl Reese on Ironside. He continued to appear on the show until it ended its run in 1968.

In the Seventies Johnny Seven guest starred on Barbary Coast, Switch, The Rockford Files, Police Woman, and Charlie's Angels. He appeared in the recurring role of Detective Contreras on Amy Prentiss. From the Eigities into the Nineties, Seven appeared on Vegas, CHIPS, Trapper John M.D., The Master, Murder She Wrote, and Can't Hurry Love. Seven also operated a real estate business in the San Fernando Valley for many years.

Johnny Seven also directed. He directed, wrote, and produced the Western Navajo Run in 1964, as well as the TV movie Gina and Me in 1995. He also wrote and produced his own plays.

Johnny Seven was a very prolific actor, appearing in many television series over the years. While he primarily played tough guys, often appearing as gangsters on the TV shows of the Sixties, he was capable of playing a wide variety of roles. Indeed, his best known role was that of a police officer, Lt. Carl Reese on Ironside, and his brief appearance as Miss Kublik's brother in law in The Apartment was impressive. While Johnny Seven played a wide array of hoodlums in his career, his talent extended beyond such roles.

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