John Williams (15 April 1903 – 5 May 1983) was an English stage, film and television actor.He is remembered for his role as Chief Inspector Hubbard in Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M For Murder, as the chauffeur in Sabrina, and as portraying the second “Mr. French” on TV’s Family Affair.
Born in Chalfont St Giles in Buckinghamshire, England, he was educated at Lancing College and began acting on the Broadway stage in 1924.He first acted in Hollywood films in 1930, debuting in director Mack Sennett’s The Chumps. In his career he appeared in more than forty films and also made more than forty guest appearances on television shows. He was part of the regular cast for the 1967 season of the family comedy Family Affair.
Williams gained fame as the star of a television commercial for 120 Music Masterpieces, a four-LP set of classical music excerpts from Columbia House.This became the longest-running nationally seen commercial in U.S. television history, for 13 years from 1971 to 1984.
In 1953, Williams won a Tony Award for Best Supporting or Featured Actor (Dramatic) for his role as Chief Inspector Hubbard in Dial M for Murder on Broadway. When Alfred Hitchcock adapted the play to film in 1954, he cast Williams in the same role. He also appeared in Hitchcock’s The Paradine Case with Gregory Peck as a barrister, and as an insurance company representative in To Catch a Thief with Cary Grant and Grace Kelly.
Williams played in several episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents including “The Long Shot” (1955), “Back for Christmas” (1956), “Whodunit” (1956), “Wet Saturday” (1956), “The Rose Garden” (1956), the 3-part episode “I Killed the Count” (1957), and “Banquo’s Chair” (1959). Three of these episodes, “Back for Christmas”, “Wet Saturday”, and “Banquo’s Chair”, were directed by Hitchcock himself.
In 1963, Williams played William Shakespeare in the The Twilight Zone episode “The Bard”.
Williams also appeared in the TV series Night Gallery, notably in the episode titled “The Doll”.
One of his last appearances was in Battlestar Galactica: War of the Gods (1979) alongside Lorne Greene.
Williams died on Thursday, 5 May 1983, in La Jolla, California, at the age of 80. It was reported that at the time of his death that he had been suffering from a heart condition.
Williams was survived by his wife Helen, and his sister Joyce Hornsted, who lived in Devon, England. There was no funeral. His body was cremated, and its ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean off the La Jolla coast.