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John Abbott (actor, born 1905)

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John Abbott (actor, born 1905)

John Abbott
Born John Kefford
(1905-06-05)5 June 1905
London, England, UK
Died 24 May 1996(1996-05-24) (aged 90)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Natural causes
Occupation Actor
Years active 1936–1984

John Kefford (5 June 1905 – 24 May 1996) was an English character actor professionally known as John Abbott. His memorable roles include the invalid Frederick Fairlie in the 1948 film The Woman in White and the pacifist Ayelborne in the Star Trek episode "Errand of Mercy". He also played Sesmar on an episode of Lost in Space, "The Dream Monster" (1966).[1] Abbott performed with some of Britain's most famous actors and was well known as a Shakespearean actor.


He was born in England on 5 June 1905. He had a sister, Ivy Skeates.[1]

In 1934 he made his stage debut in a revival of Aureng-zebe.[1]

In the early days of World War II, Abbott worked at the British Embassy in Moscow. When the time came to leave, he had to go by way of the United States. While in the U.S., he was offered a part in Hollywood in 1941[2] and ended up living there for the rest of his life.

He continued to find work, although he was blacklisted during the Red Scare of the 1950s. Eventually, a producer, wanting to hire him, was able to get his listing removed.[3]

In his final years, Abbott taught acting students for free and inspired some of Hollywood's most famous young actors of that time.

Abbott died at Cedars Sinai Medical Center from natural causes on 24 May 1996 at the age of 90.[1]

Selected filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1936 Conquest of the Air Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier
1937 Mademoiselle Docteur Armand Uncredited
Return of the Scarlet Pimpernel Flower Seller Uncredited
The Importance of Being Ernest John Worthing
Under Secret Orders Armand
1938 This Man Is News Hood with Foreign Accent Uncredited
Richard of Bordeaux Simon Burley
1939 The Tempest Prospero
The Saint in London Count Stepehn Duni
The Great Commandment Starving Begger Uncredited
1940 Ten Days in Paris André
1941 The Shanghai Gesture Poppy's Escort Uncredited
1942 Joan of Paris English Spy
This Above All Joe Uncredited
Mrs. Miniver Fred
Ruber Racketeers Dumbo
Got Hep to Love Professor Radowsky
Nightmare Karl/Charles
1943 The Gorilla Man Dr. Ferris
London Blackout Murders Jack Rawlings
They Got Me Covered Gregory Vanescu
Hangmen Also Die! Hostage
Mission to Moscow Grinko Uncredited
Dangerous Blondes Roland X. Smith Uncredited
The Cross of Lorraine Baked Uncredited
Jane Eyre Mason Uncredited
1944 Once Upon a Time Reporter Uncredited
The Mask of Dimitrios Mr. Pappas
Summer Storm Lunin- Public Prosecutor
Abroad with Two Yanks Salesman
U-Boat Prisoner Alfonse Lamont
Secrets of Scotland Yard Mortimer Cope
Cry of the Werewolf Peter Althius
End of the Road Chris Martin
The Falcon in Hollywood Martin S. Dwyer
1945 The Power of the Whistler Kaspar Andropolous
Honeymoon Ahead Welles
The Vampire's Ghost Webb Fallon
A Thousand and One Nights Ali
Crime Doctor's Warning Jimmy Gordon
Pursuit to Algiers Jodri
Saratoga Trunk Roscoe Bean
1946 The Notorious Lone Wolf Lal Bara
The Bandit of Sherwood Forest Will Scarlet
One More Tomorrow Joseph Baronova
Anna and the King of Siam Phya Phrom Uncredited
Deception Bertram Gribble
Humoresque Rozner
1947 Time Out of Mind Max Leiberman
The Web Charles Murdock
Adventure Island Huish
If Winter Comes Mr. Twyning
1948 The Woman in White Frederick Fairlie
1949 Addio Mimí! Orchestra Conductor
Madame Bovary Mayor Tuvache
1950 Sideshow Pierre
1951 Navy Bound Pappa Cerrano
Thunder on the Hill Abel Harmer
Crosswinds Sykes
1952 The Merry Widow Marshovian Ambassador
Thunder in the East Nitra Puta
1953 Rogue's March Herbert Bielensen
Sombrero Don Daniel
Cavalcade of America Col. Barton Season 2, Episode 2
The Steel Lady Mustafa el Melik
1955 Front Row Center Dr. Franz Gregorovious Season 1, Episode 10
1955–1956 Crusader Gustave/Igor Borovin 2 Episodes
Science Fiction Theatre John Bowers 2 Episodes
1956 Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre Barrett Season 1, Episode 35
Telephone Time Schliemann's Russian assistant Season 1, Episode 9
Studio 57 Season 2, Episode 36
The Adventures of Hiram Holliday Thief Season 1, Episode 2
1957 Public Pigeon No. One Dipso Dave Rutherford
Omar Khayyam Yusuf Uncredited
1955–58 Matinee Theatre Jasper Purdy 5 Episodes
1958 Gigi Manuel
Studio One Travers Season 10, Episode 44
The Further Adventures of Ellery Queen Season 1, Episode 6
1959 The Ann Southern Show Carter Season 1, Episode 14
Peter Gunn Blakenship Season 1, Episode 28
Goodyear Theatre Stefan Season 3, Episode 1
Have Gun - Will Travel Winston Ainslee Season 3, Episode 5
1956–1959 General Electric Theater Nathan/Professor Meyerdal 2 Episodes
1956–1960 Gunsmoke Eddie/Professor Lute Bone 2 Episodes
1960 Tightrope Gideon Season 1, Episode 19
The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis Professor Dobkin Season 1, Episode 20
The Rifleman Dr. Henniken Season 2, Episode 26
Shangri-La Chang
Shirley Temple's Storybook Uncle Venner
1961 The Islanders Harwood Gones
The DuPont Show with June Allyson Professor Brent
Hong Kong Alec Borg
Thriller Kriss Milo
Adventures in Paradise Murdock
Great Ghost Tales Mr. Arcularis
Ichabod and Me Jeremy Lockhart
Bonanza Zachariah Wickham
1964 Flipper "Professor" Marvello Season 1, Episode 9
1966 The Munsters Dr. Victor Frankenstein IV Season 2, Episode 26
Lost in Space Sesmar Season 2, Episode 14
1967 Star Trek Ayelborne Season 1, Episode 26
Bewitched Leonardo da Vinci Season 4, Episode 17
1975 The Black Bird DuQuai
1976 Sherlock Holmes in New York Heller
Holmes & Yo-Yo Montecito
1978 Outside Chance Coroner
1982 Slapstick of Another Kind Dr. Frankenstein
1983 Cracking Up Surgeon


  1. ^ a b c d "John Abbott, 90. Was English Actor".  
  2. ^ A Who's Who of British Film Actors, by Scott Palmer, The Scarecrow Press, 1981
  3. ^ Abbott had no idea why he was blacklisted until around 1990 while in the company of this writer, when he was watching a documentary on Dalton Trumbo, discovered that the author had used Abbott's name as an alias.

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