Albert Dekker

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Albert Dekker
Albert Dekker in Gentleman's Agreement trailer cropped.jpg
From the trailer for Gentleman's Agreement (1947)
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 57th district
In office
1945–1947
Preceded byFranklin J. Potter
Succeeded byCharles J. Conrad
Personal details
Born(1905-12-20)December 20, 1905
Brooklyn, New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedMay 5, 1968(1968-05-05) (aged 62)
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
NationalityAmerican
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Esther Guerini (m.1929-1964)
Children3
Alma materBowdoin College
OccupationActor, politician
 
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Albert Dekker
Albert Dekker in Gentleman's Agreement trailer cropped.jpg
From the trailer for Gentleman's Agreement (1947)
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 57th district
In office
1945–1947
Preceded byFranklin J. Potter
Succeeded byCharles J. Conrad
Personal details
Born(1905-12-20)December 20, 1905
Brooklyn, New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedMay 5, 1968(1968-05-05) (aged 62)
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
NationalityAmerican
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Esther Guerini (m.1929-1964)
Children3
Alma materBowdoin College
OccupationActor, politician

Albert Dekker (December 20, 1905 – May 5, 1968) was an American character actor and politician best known for his roles in Dr. Cyclops, The Killers, Kiss Me Deadly, and The Wild Bunch. He is sometimes credited as Albert Van Dekker or Albert van Dekker.

Early life and career[edit]

He was born Thomas Albert Ecke Van Dekker in Brooklyn, New York, the only child of Thomas and Grace Ecke Van Dekker. He attended Richmond Hill High School where he appeared in stage productions. He then attended Bowdoin College where he majored in pre-med with plans to become a doctor. On the advice of a friend, he decided to pursue acting as a career instead. He and made his professional acting debut with a Cincinnati stock company in 1927. Within a few months, Dekker was featured in the Broadway production of Eugene O'Neill's play Marco Millions.[1]

Dekker as Dr. Alexander Thorkel in the 1940 film Dr. Cyclops

After a decade of theatrical appearances, Dekker transferred to Hollywood in 1937, and made his first film, 1937's The Great Garrick.[2] He spent most of the rest of his acting career in the cinema, but also returned to the stage from time to time.

He replaced Lee J. Cobb as Willy Loman in the original production of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, and during a five-year stint back on Broadway in the early 1960s, he played the Duke of Norfolk in Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons.

Dekker appeared in some seventy films from the 1930s to 1960s, but his four most famous screen roles were as a mad scientist in the 1940 horror film Dr. Cyclops, as a vicious hitman in The Killers, as a dangerous dealer in atomic fuel in the 1955 film noir Kiss Me Deadly, and as an unscrupulous railroad detective in Sam Peckinpah's Western The Wild Bunch. In 1959 he played a convincing Texas Ranger Captain Rucker in The Wonderful Country. He was rarely cast in romantic roles, but in the film Seven Sinners, featuring a romance between Marlene Dietrich and John Wayne, Dietrich sails off with Dekker's character at the end of the film. Dekker's role as Pat Harrigan in The Wild Bunch would be his last screen appearance.

Personal life[edit]

On April 4, 1929, Dekker married former actress Esther Guerini. The couple had two sons, John and Benjamin, and a daughter, Jan, before divorcing in 1964.[3][4]

In April 1957, Dekker's 16-year old son, John, shot himself with a .22 rifle at the family's Hastings-on-Hudson, New York home. He had reportedly been working on a silencer for the rifle for a year. His death was ruled accidental.[4]

Politics[edit]

Dekker's off-screen interest in politics led to his winning a seat in the California State Assembly for the 57th Assembly District in 1944. Dekker served as a Democratic member for the Assembly until 1946.[5]

During the McCarthy era he was an outspoken critic of U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy's tactics. As a result, Dekker was blacklisted in Hollywood and spent most of the blacklist period working on Broadway rather than Hollywood.[6]

Death[edit]

On May 5, 1968 Dekker was found dead in his Hollywood home by his fiancée, Geraldine Saunders. He was naked, kneeling in the bathtub, with a noose tightly wrapped around his neck and looped around the shower curtain rod. He was blindfolded, his wrists were handcuffed, there was a ball gag in his mouth, and two hypodermic needles were inserted in one arm. His body was covered in explicit words and drawings in red lipstick.[7] Money and camera equipment were found missing, but there was no sign of forced entry. Though speculation ran rampant, the coroner found no evidence of foul play, and ruled his death accidental due to autoerotic asphyxiation.[6][8] Dekker was cremated, and his remains interred at the Garden State Crematory in North Bergen, New Jersey.[9]

Dekker has a star, in the motion picture category, on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6620 Hollywood Boulevard.[10]

Selected filmography[edit]

Film
YearTitleRoleNotes
1937The Great GarrickM. LeBrunCredited as Albert Van Dekker
1938Marie AntoinetteComte de ProvenceCredited as Albert Van Dekker
1939Beau GesteLegionnaire Schwartz
1939The Great CommandmentLonginus
1940Rangers of FortuneGeorge Bird
1940Strange CargoMoll
1940Seven SinnersDr. MartinAlternative title: Cafe of the Seven Sinners
1941Among the LivingJohn Raden/Paul Raden
1942In Old CaliforniaBritt Dawson
1942The Lady Has PlansBaron Von Kemp
1942Wake IslandShad McClosky
1942Once Upon a HoneymoonGaston Le Blanc
1943In Old OklahomaJim "Hunk" GardnerAlternative title: War of the Wildcats
1943The Woman of the TownBat MastersonWith Claire Trevor as Dora Hand
1944Experiment Perilous'Clag' Claghorn
1945Incendiary BlondeJoe Cadden
1943SuspenseFrank Leonard
1946The KillersBig Jim ColfaxAlternative title: A Man Alone
1947Cass TimberlaneBoone Havock
1947Gentleman's AgreementJohn Minify
1948Fury at Furnace CreekEdward Leverett
1948Lulu BelleMark Brady
1949Search for DangerKirk
1949Bride of VengeanceVanetti
1950The Kid from TexasAlexander Kain
1950Destination MurderArmitage
1950The FuriesMr. Reynolds
1951As Young as You FeelLouis McKinley
1952Wait Till the Sun Shines, NellieLloyd Slocum
1954The Silver ChaliceKester
1955East of EdenWill Hamilton
1955IllegalFrank Garland
1955Kiss Me DeadlyDr. G.E. Soberin
1957She DevilDr. Richard Bach
1958MacheteDon Luis Montoya
1959Suddenly, Last SummerDr. Lawrence J. Hockstader
1959These Thousand HillsMarshal Conrad
1959The Wonderful CountryTexas Ranger Capt. Rucker
1959The Sound and the FuryEarl Snopes
1965Once Upon a TractorColonel
1966Gammera the InvincibleSecretary of Defense
1967Come Spy with MeWalter Ludeker
1969The Wild BunchPat Harrigan
Television
YearTitleRoleNotes
1951Pulitzer Prize PlayhouseGeorge WashingtonEpisode: "Valley Forge"
1952Studio OneBilly BonesEpisode: "Treasure Island"
1955Goodyear Television PlayhouseEpisode: "The Chivington Raid"
1956Climax!BrewsterEpisode: "Fear Is the Hunter"
1959DecoyOtto FlaglerEpisode: "High Swing"
1960The WitnessJimmy HinesEpisode: "Jimmy Hines"
1961Route 66Frank IvyEpisode: "The Newborn"
1964Kraft Suspense TheatreKarl HesseEpisode: "The World I Want"
1965SeawayCaptain MarlandEpisode: "The 34th Man"
1965The Trials of O'BrienGeorge BrewerEpisode: "Bargain Day on the Street of Regret"
1966Mission: ImpossibleColonel ShtemenkoEpisode: "The Short Tail Spy"
1967The Man from U.N.C.L.E.Harry BeldonEpisode: "The Summit-Five Affair"
1968Run for Your LifeSir Harry HillerEpisode: "A Dangerous Proposal"
1968BonanzaBarney SturgessEpisode: "The Bottle Fighter"

References[edit]

  1. ^ Burroughs Hannsberry, Karen (2003). Bad Boys: The Actors of Film Noir. McFarland & Company. p. 192. ISBN 0-786-41484-7. 
  2. ^ Monush, Barry (2003). Screen World Presents the Encyclopedia of Hollywood Film Actors: From the Silent Era to 1965. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 187. ISBN 1-55783-551-9. 
  3. ^ "Actor Divorced". Reading Eagle. February 19, 1964. p. 42. Retrieved January 13, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b "ACTOR'S SON SHOT DEAD; John Dekker, 16, Found Slain in Westchester Home". The New York Times. April 19, 1957. p. 15. 
  5. ^ "Autopsy Performed on Actor Albert Dekker". The Los Angeles Times. May 7, 1968. p. 19. 
  6. ^ a b Hare, William (2008). L.A. Noir: Nine Dark Visions of the City of Angels. McFarland. p. 143. ISBN 0-786-43740-5. 
  7. ^ Rutledge, Leigh W. (1989). The Gay Fireside Companion. Alyson Publications, Inc. p. 110. 
  8. ^ Parish, James Robert (2002). The Hollywood Book of Death: The Bizarre, Often Sordid, Passings of More Than 125 American Movie and TV Idols. Contemporary Books. p. 260. ISBN 0-8092-2227-2. 
  9. ^ "Dekker's Death Accidental, Tentative Ruling Declares". The New York Times. May 9, 1968. 
  10. ^ "Hollywood Star Walk: Albert Dekker". latimes.com. Retrieved January 13, 2013. 

External links[edit]

California Assembly
Preceded by
Franklin J. Potter
California State Assemblyman, 57th District
1945 – 1947
Succeeded by
Charles J. Conrad