John Benjamin Ireland (January 30, 1914 – March 21, 1992) was a Canadian actor and film director.
Ireland was born John Benjamin Ireland in Vancouver, British Columbia on January 30, 1914. He lived in New York City from a very early age. Ireland's formal education ended at the 7th grade; and he worked to help his family make ends meet. He never knew his father. His mother remarried and had three other children, a daughter Kathryn, a son named Tommy (became Tommy Noonan who co-starred in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes"), and another son Michael. Their last name was Noone. Ireland never knew for sure where his last name came from. One of his jobs was in a water carnival where he wrestled a dead octopus. His discovery of acting was by accident, but he fell in love with it and studied Shakespeare as his "formal" education. Tall and lean, he appeared on Broadway and toured in Shakespeare in the late 1930s and early 1940s before entering film in the mid-1940s.
Ireland made his screen-debut as Private Windy, the thoughtful letter-writing GI, in the 1945 war film A Walk in the Sun. This was followed by Wake Up and Dream in 1946. A supporting actor in several notable Westerns including John Ford's My Darling Clementine (1946) and Howard Hawks' 1948 film Red River. Having a lead in small noirs like Railroaded! (1947), Ireland was nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for his forceful performance as Jack Burden, the hard-boiled newspaper reporter who evolves from devotee to cynical denouncer of demagogue Willie Stark (Broderick Crawford) in All the King's Men (1949), making him the first Vancouver-born actor to receive an Academy Award nomination.
During McCarthyism in the early 50s, he successfully sued two television producers for breach of contract and slander, claiming that they reneged on roles promised to him due to his perceived political undesirability. He received an undisclosed but "substantial" cash settlement.
A prolific performer in films and early television, Ireland had made the transition to supporting roles by the mid-1950s, playing cynical villains in films like Vengeance Valley (1951) and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957). He had a large supporting part in 55 Days at Peking (1963) under Charlton Heston. He also starred as an innocent man-on-the-run in the 1955 original The Fast and the Furious and had a key role as the gladiator Crixus in the Stanley Kubrick 1960 spectacle Spartacus, co-starring with Kirk Douglas.
In 1959, Ireland appeared as Chris Slade, with Karl Swenson as Ansel Torgin, in the episode "The Fight Back" of the NBC western series, Riverboat. In the storyline, Tom Fowler (Tom Laughlin), the boss of the corrupt river town of Hampton near Vicksburg, Mississippi, blocks farmers from shipping their crops to market. In a dispute over a wedding held on the Enterprise, a lynch-mob led by Fowler comes after series lead-character Grey Holden (Darren McGavin). Karl Swenson also was cast in this episode.
In 1960, Ireland starred as Winch in the CBS western series, Rawhide episode "Incident of the Garden of Eden". In 1962, he portrayed the character Frank Trask in the episode "Incident of the Portrait" on CBS's Rawhide.
From 1960–1962, he starred in the British television series The Cheaters, playing John Hunter, a claims investigator for an insurance company who tracked down cases of fraud. By the mid-1960s, he was seen as the star of B-movies such as I Saw What You Did, In 1965, he played role of Jed Colby, a trail scout in Rawhide on American television. This was the last season for Rawhide.
In 1967, he appeared on Bonanza with Michael Landon in the episode "Judgement at Red Creek". A few years later he again appeared with Landon on Little House on the Prairie as a drunk who saves Carrie Ingalls, who had fallen down an abandoned mine shaft.
Ireland was seen in Italian productions like The House of the Seven Corpses (1974), Salon Kitty (1976) and Satan's Cheerleaders (1977). He did, however, also appear in big-budget fare such as The Adventurers (1970), also as a police lieutenant in the Robert Mitchum private-eye story Farewell, My Lovely (1975). He was seen in the War of the Worlds episode "Eye for an Eye" in 1988.
Ireland regularly returned to the stage throughout his career and co-directed two features in the 1950s: the acclaimed Western drama Hannah Lee (1953) and the carjacking B-movie The Fast and the Furious (1955).
Occasionally Ireland's name was mentioned in tabloids of the times, in connection with much younger starlets, namely Natalie Wood, Barbara Payton, and Sue Lyon. He attracted controversy by dating 16-year-old actress Tuesday Weld when he was 45. Ireland also had an affair with co-star Joan Crawford while on the set of Queen Bee (1955). A decade later, Ireland and Crawford would co-star again in William Castle's horror flick I Saw What You Did.
He was married three times; first from 1940–1949, to Elaine Sheldon, by whom he had two sons named John and Peter. Then, from 1949-1957, to Joanne Dru. Finally, from 1962 until his death, to Daphne Myrick Cameron, with whom he had a daughter named Daphne and a son named Cameron.
In his later years, he owned a restaurant, Ireland's, in Santa Barbara, California. An accomplished chef, he regularly worked in the kitchen and concocted "Ireland Stew", combining whatever ingredients were available on a given night. He was also a regular at the restaurant's bar, greeting patrons and buying drinks for friends.
On March 21, 1992, Ireland died in Santa Barbara, California of leukemia at the age of 78. He is buried at the Santa Barbara Cemetery.
For his contribution to the television industry, he was commemorated with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1610 Vine Street.
|1945||A Walk in the Sun||Pfc. Windy Craven|
|1946||Behind Green Lights||Det. Engelhofer|
|1946||It Shouldn't Happen to a Dog||Benny Smith|
|1946||My Darling Clementine||Billy Clanton|
|1947||The Gangster||Frank Karty|
|1948||I Love Trouble||Reno|
|1948||Open Secret||Paul Lester|
|1948||Red River||Cherry Valance|
|1948||Joan of Arc||Jean de la Boussac, St. Severe|
|1949||All the King's Men||Jack Burden||Academy Award nomination for Ireland, the film won the Oscar for Best Picture|
|1949||I Shot Jesse James||Bob Ford|
|1949||Anna Lucasta||Danny Johnson|
|1950||The Return of Jesse James||Johnny Callum|
|1951||Vengeance Valley||Hub Fasken|
|1951||The Basketball Fix||Pete Ferreday|
|1951||The Scarf||John Howard Barrington|
|1951||Little Big Horn||Lt. John Haywood|
|1952||The Bushwackers||Jefferson Waring|
|1953||Hannah Lee||Marshal Sam Rochelle||Also co-director. Released in color and 3-D, re-released "flat" in B&W; a.k.a. Outlaw Territory|
|1954||The Good Die Young||Eddie Blaine|
|1955||Queen Bee||Judd Prentiss|
|1955||The Fast and the Furious||Frank Webster||Also co-director.|
|1955||The Glass Cage||Pel Pelham|
|1955||Hell's Horizon||Capt. John Merrill|
|1957||Gunfight at the O.K. Corral||Johnny Ringo|
|1958||Party Girl||Louis Canetto|
|1958||No Time to Kill||Johnny Greco|
|1958||No Place to Land||Jonas Bailey|
|1958||Stormy Crossing||Griff Parker|
|1959||Med mord i bagaget (sv)||Johnny Greco|
|1960||Faces in the Dark||Max Hammond|
|1961||Wild in the Country||Phil Macy|
|1961||Return of a Stranger||Ray Reed|
|1963||55 Days at Peking||Sgt. Harry|
|1964||The Fall of the Roman Empire||Ballomar|
|1965||I Saw What You Did||Steve Marek|
|1967||Fort Utah||Tom Horn|
|1967||Hate for Hate||James Arthur Cooper|
|1968||Pistol for a Hundred Coffins||Douglas|
|1968||Villa Rides||Client in barber shop|
|1968||Trusting Is Good... Shooting Is Better||The Colonel|
|1969||Una sull'altra||Inspector Wald|
|1969||Carnal Circuit||Walter Salinger|
|1970||The Adventurers||Mr. James Hadley|
|1972||Escape to the Sun||Jacob Kagan|
|1972||Northeast of Seoul||Flanagan|
|1974||The Phantom of Hollywood||Lieutenant Gifford|
|1974||Welcome to Arrow Beach||Sheriff Duke Bingham|
|1974||The House of Seven Corpses||Eric Hartman|
|1975||We Are No Angels||Mr. Shark|
|1975||Farewell, My Lovely||Det. Lt. Nulty|
|1976||The Swiss Conspiracy||Dwight McGowan|
|1977||Satan's Cheerleaders||The Sheriff|
|1977||Assault in Paradise||Chief Haliburton||a.k.a. The Ransom and Maniac!|
|1978||Tomorrow Never Comes||Captain|
|1979||On the Air Live with Captain Midnight||Agent Pierson|
|1979||Guyana: Cult of the Damned||Dave Cole|
|1979||H. G. Wells' The Shape of Things to Come||Senator Smedley|
|1981||The Incubus||Hank Walden|
|1985||Treasure of the Amazon||Priest|
|1986||Thunder Run||George Adama|
|1987||Terror Night||Lance Hayward|
|1988||Bonanza: The Next Generation||Capt. Aaron Cartwright|
|1988||Messenger of Death||Zenas Beecham|
|1989||Sundown: The Vampire in Retreat||Ethan Jefferson|
|1990||The Graveyard Story||Dr. McGregor|
|1992||Waxwork II: Lost in Time||King Arthur|
|1992||Hammer Down||Lt. Bates|