John Houseman

Producer, Actor, Artistic director
Widely regarded as one of the most respected innovators of the American stage, John Houseman also enjoyed tremendous success as a producer, screenwriter and, perhaps most remarkable of all, as a character actor in a ... Read more »
Born: 09/22/1902 in Romania

Filmography

Actor (48)

Another Woman 1988 (Movie)

Marion's Father (Actor)

Bright Lights, Big City 1988 (Movie)

Mr Vogel (Actor)

Scrooged 1988 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Our Planet Tonight 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

Silver Spoons 1982 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

Virgil Thompson at 90 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

A.D. 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

The American Film Institute Salute to Lillian Gish 1983 - 1984 (TV Show)

Performer

The Paper Chase: The Second Year 1982 - 1984 (TV Show)

Actor

The Winds of War 1982 - 1983 (TV Show)

Actor

Marco Polo 1981 - 1982 (TV Show)

Actor

Ghost Story 1981 (Movie)

Sears James (Actor)

The Babysitter 1980 - 1981 (TV Show)

Actor

Murder By Phone 1980 (Movie)

Dr Stanley Markowitz (Actor)

My Bodyguard 1980 (Movie)

Dobbs (Actor)

The Fog 1980 (Movie)

Mr. Machen (Actor)

The French Atlantic Affair 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)

Actor

The Last Convertible 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)

Actor

Wholly Moses! 1980 (Movie)

Archangel (Actor)

Old Boyfriends 1979 (Movie)

Dr Hoffman (Actor)

The Paper Chase 1978 - 1979 (TV Show)

Actor

The Cheap Detective 1978 (Movie)

Jasper Blubber (Actor)

Beyond the Horizon 1975 - 1976 (TV Show)

Actor

St. Ives 1976 (Movie)

Procane (Actor)

The Adams Chronicles 1975 - 1976 (TV Show)

Actor

Truman at Potsdam 1975 - 1976 (TV Show)

Actor

Rollerball 1975 (Movie)

Bartholomew (Actor)

Three Days of the Condor 1975 (Movie)

Wabash (Actor)

I'm a Stranger Here Myself 1973 (Movie)

Interviewee (Actor)

The Paper Chase 1973 (Movie)

Kingsfield (Actor)

Seven Days in May 1964 (Movie)

Adm Barnswell (Actor)

Night Ambush 1958 (Movie)

(Actor)

Too Much Johnson 1937 (Movie)

(Actor)

A Christmas Without Snow (TV Show)

Actor

Aspen (TV Show)

Actor

Captains and the Kings (TV Show)

Actor

Fear on Trial (TV Show)

Actor

Gideon's Trumpet (TV Show)

Actor

Gore Vidal's Lincoln (TV Show)

Actor

Hazard's People (TV Show)

Actor

Hollywood: The Golden Years (TV Show)

Actor

James Clavell's Noble House (TV Show)

Actor

Marco Polo (TV Show)

Actor

The Skin of Our Teeth (TV Show)

Actor
Producer (21)

This Property Is Condemned 1966 (Movie)

(Producer)

In the Cool of the Day 1963 (Movie)

(Producer)

All Fall Down 1962 (Movie)

(Producer)

Two Weeks in Another Town 1961 (Movie)

(Producer)

Playhouse 90 1956 - 1960 (TV Show)

Producer

Lust For Life 1956 (Movie)

(Producer)

Moonfleet 1955 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Cobweb 1955 (Movie)

(Producer)

Executive Suite 1954 (Movie)

(Producer)

Her Twelve Men 1954 (Movie)

(Producer)

Julius Caesar 1953 (Movie)

(Producer)

On Dangerous Ground 1951 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Bad and the Beautiful 1951 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Company She Keeps 1951 (Movie)

(Producer)

They Live By Night 1949 (Movie)

(Producer)

Letter From an Unknown Woman 1948 (Movie)

(Producer)

The Blue Dahlia 1946 (Movie)

(Producer)

Too Much Johnson 1937 (Movie)

(Producer)

Choices of the Heart (TV Show)

Executive Producer

Holiday for Sinners (Movie)

(Producer)

The Unseen (Movie)

(Producer)

Biography

Widely regarded as one of the most respected innovators of the American stage, John Houseman also enjoyed tremendous success as a producer, screenwriter and, perhaps most remarkable of all, as a character actor in a prolific later career, begun at the age of 70. Forced out of his lucrative international grain business by the Stock Market Crash of 1929, Houseman found a creative outlet alongside wunderkind Orson Welles at the Federal Theater Project. Frequently controversial productions produced and directed by Houseman and Welles included the 1935 "voodoo" version of "Macbeth" and the historic labor union musical "The Cradle Will Rock" in 1936. After forming the Mercury Theater Company - responsible for the infamous "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast in 1938 - with Welles, he followed the young auteur to Hollywood, where he made significant contributions to "Citizen Kane" (1941). A falling out over "Kane" brought an end to Houseman's relationship with the volatile Welles, although a successful career as a film producer kept him in the industry for more than 30 years. Then, just as he was about to retire, the 70-year-old Houseman became one of the most sought-after supporting actors in the years following his Academy Award-winning turn as a crusty, yet conscientious law professor in "The Paper Chase" (1973). Over the next 15 years, he would be seen in scores of feature films, television miniseries and commercial campaigns. In a variety of professional roles, Houseman made immeasurable contributions to the mediums of stage, film and television.

Relationships

Father
Alsatian

Mother
English

Joan Courtney

Wife
married in 1950 mother of his sons

Charles Houseman

Son
living in Sunapee, New Mexico at time of father's death mother, Joan Courtney

John Houseman

Son
living in Paris at time of father's death mother, Joan Courtney

Zita Johann Actor

Wife
Married in 1929 divorced on September 12, 1933

EDUCATION

Clinton College

Milestones

1988

Rounding out feature career, portrayed Marion's Father in Woody Allen's "Another Woman" and Mr. Vogel in "Bright Lights, Big City"; also played himself in "The Naked Gun--From the Files of the Police Squad!" and Richard Donner's "Scrooged"

1988

Portrayed Sir Geoffrey Allison in "James Clavell's Noble House" and General Winfield Scott in "Gore Vidal's Lincoln" (both NBC miniseries)

1986

The John Houseman Theatre dedicated on NYC's 'Theater Row' (42nd Street)

1983

Directed The Acting Company revival of "The Cradle Will Rock", starring LuPone

1983

Played Aaron Jastrow in the acclaimed ABC miniseries "The Winds of War"

1980

Executive produced and acted in "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation of "Gideon's Trumpet" (CBS)

1976

Portrayed Winston Churchill in "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation of "Truman at Potsdam" (NBC)

1975

Acted in "Rollerball" and "Three Days of the Condor"

1973

Won the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his role as the imperious law school instructor Professor Kingsfield in "The Paper Chase"; hired for part by former UCLA assistant James Bridges

1972

With Margot Harley, co-founded The Acting Company, a touring repertory group staffed mostly by Juilliard graduates (first company included future stars Kevin Kline, David Ogden Stiers and Patti LuPone); was artistic director until 1986

1968

Established the Drama Division of NYC's Juilliard School; served as artistic director until 1976

1964

Produced and wrote screenplay for Benjamin Jackson's "Voyage to America"

1964

Portrayed Admiral Barnswell in Frankenheimer's "Seven Days in May"; fourth and last picture with Douglas

1962

Fourth and last collaboration with Minnelli as producer of "Two Weeks in Another Town"; third picture with Douglas

1962

Produced Frankenheimer's feature "All Fall Down"

1957

Acted in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's "Night Ambush"

1956

Served as Artisitc director of the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Connecticut

1956

Reteamed with Minnelli and Douglas, producing "Lust For Life"

1954

Produced Robert Wise's "Executive Suite"; Wise had worked as an editor on "Citizen Kane"

1953

Received Best Picture Oscar nomination as producer of Joseph L Mankiewicz's "Julius Caesar"

1952

First association with director Vincente Minnelli as producer of "The Bad and the Beautiful", starring Kirk Douglas

1951

Reteamed with Ray as producer of "On Dangerous Ground"

1948

Produced Max Ophuls' "Letter to an Unknown Woman"

1948

First association with director Nicholas Ray as producer of "They Live By Night"

1947

Directed world stage premiere of Bertolt Brecht's "Galileo", starring Charles Laughton

1946

Produced George Marshall's "The Blue Dahlia"

1944

Worked with director John Berry (an old Mercury Theater protege who had acted with him in "Too Much Johnson") on two movies, "Miss Susie Slagle's" (as associate producer) and "Tuesday in November" (as producer)

1943

First screenplay credit, "Jane Eyre", directed by Robert Stevenson, starring Welles and Joan Fontaine

1941

Did uncredited work on screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock's "Saboteur"

1940

Did uncredited work on the script for Welles' landmark "Citizen Kane"

1940

Directed West Coast stage version of Eugene O'Neill's "Anna Christie", starring Ingrid Bergman

1940

Briefly served as vice president of David O. Selznick Productions

1938

Produced and acted in Welles' "Too Much Johnson", a feature film never released theatrically

1938

Collaborated with Welles and Howard Koch on the radio production of "War of the Worlds" that panicked the nation on Halloween night; died on the 50th anniversary of the radio broadcast

1937

Co-founded Mercury Theater with Orson Welles; reportedly fell out over script credits for "Citizen Kane" (1941)

1936

Established (with Welles) the Classical Theater (also known as Federal Theater Project 891), which folded after their controversial production of Marc Blitzstein's proletarian musical "The Cradle Will Rock"

1935

Formed the WPA's Negro Theater Project with Orson Welles; company produced the noteworthy 'Voodoo' "Macbeth"

1934

Directed Virgil Thomson's opera "Four Saints in Three Acts" with a libretto by Gertrude Stein; scored a hit on Broadway

1920

At 18, won a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge, but his mother insisted he follow the career of his father as a grain merchant (date approximate)

At 21, went to Argentina as an agent of his father's grain business and two years later (in 1924) arrived in the USA on a similar mission; resident status not regularized until his admisssion as a legal immigrant in 1936

Reprised Professor Kingsfield for "The Paper Chase" (CBS) TV series; although praised by critics, its lack of a competetive audience led to its cancellation; PBS aired reruns for several years

Began writing for magazines and translating plays for the stage from French and German

Was artistic director of the Professional Theater Group of the University of California at Los Angeles (which later evolved into the widely respected Mark Taper Forum company)

Was commercial pitchman for the investment firm of Smith, Barney

Hosted the syndicated "Tales of the Unexpected"

Grain business failed during the Depression

Produced for CBS' "Playhouse 90"; first affiliation with director John Frankenheimer

Created the short-lived cultural program, "The Seven Lively Arts" (CBS)

Quit his post with Selznick after bombing of Pearl Harbor to become chief of the overseas radio division of the Office of War Information (OWI)

Showtime revived "The Paper Chase" (as "The Paper Chase: Second Year" and later "The Paper Chase: Third Year"), so that from premiere to show's final demise, it had taken Hart (James Stephens) eight years to complete his three-year law degree

Bonus Trivia

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Houseman is described by Welles biographer Charles Higham as "the mooring tape for Welles' ballooning talent."

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