Enter The Dragon actor John Saxon has died at the age of 83, it has been confirmed.
Saxon, who was best known for starring alongside Bruce Lee in the 1973 movie, died on 25 July in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
The actor’s wife Gloria confirmed the news to The Hollywood Reporter and said he had battled pneumonia.
Writer and producer Larry Karaszewski paid a heartfelt tribute to Saxon and tweeted: ‘I had the good fortune to host John Saxon at the American Cinematheque – screening his Bruce Lee epic “Enter the Dragon” and the Marlon Brando western “The Appaloosa,” for which Saxon earned a Golden Globe nomination. He was a great guy full of stories.’
Gremlins director Joe Dante said: ‘RIP John Saxon. I had the privilege of working with him once in 2006. Very good actor, very nice guy.’
Nancy Sinatra simply added: ‘Godspeed, Johnny.’
Saxon, an Italian-American who hailed from Brooklyn, New York, was known for nailing his roles as various characters with different ethnicities.
He earned a Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of a Mexican bandit in The Appaloosa (1966) in which he starred opposite screen legend Marlon Brando. In the hit TV series Dynasty, Saxon also portrayed Middle Eastern tycoon Rashid Ahmed, who romanced Alexis Colby played by Joan Collins.
Other TV roles included The Doctors, Falcon Crest and The Bold Ones.
In the 70s, Saxon went on to star as police chief in cult horror classic Black Christmas, and the character Roper – a degenerate gambler who participates in a martial arts tournament – in Enter The Dragon alongside martial arts legend Bruce Lee.
It was Lee’s final movie before his own death at the age of 32.
Although lacking real life fighting skills, Saxon once recalled to the Los Angeles Times that Lee ‘took me seriously. I would tell him I would rather do it this way, and he’d say, “OK, try it that way”.’
Saxon also took on the role of police officer Donald Thompson in the first and third installments of A Nightmare On Elm Street, directed by Wes Craven.
The actor married three times – first to screenwriter Mary Ann Murphy, then to actress Elizabeth Saxon and from 2008 until his death, to cosmetician Gloria Martel.
Saxon is survived by Gloria, his son Antonio and sister Delores.
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