John Hodiak (1914 - 1955) MP

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Birthdate:
Birthplace: Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Death: Died in Los Angeles, CA, USA
Cause of death: Heart attack
Occupation: Actor
Managed by: Gene
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About John Hodiak

Sad-eyed leading man of Hollywood films John Hodiak was best known as Judy Garland's leading man in the musical "The Harvey Girls" (1946).

He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Walter Hodiakand and Anna Pogorzelec. Hodiak was of Ukrainian and Polish descent. He grew up in Hamtramck, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit.

Hodiak had his first smell of greasepaint at age eleven, acting in Ukrainian and Russian plays at the Ukrainian Catholic Church. From the moment he first appeared on the stage, he resolved to become an actor. He was not even swayed when as a third baseman on his local high school baseball team, he was offered a contract with a St. Louis Cardinals farm club but turned the offer down.

When Hodiak first tried out for a radio acting job, he was turned down because of his accent. He became a caddy at a Detroit golf course, then worked at a Chevrolet automobile factory – and practiced his diction. When he conquered the diction hurdle, he became a radio actor and moved to Chicago. There he created the role of the comic strip character Li'l Abner on radio.

After a short stint in the Army, he arrived in Hollywood in 1942 and signed a motion picture contract with MGM. He refused to change his name, saying, "I like my name. It sounds like I look." His gritty style was not a good fit there and he was frequently loaned out to other studios.

He then caught the eye of director Alfred Hitchcock and, on loan-out to 20th Century Fox, emerged as a major movie star in Lifeboat (1944) opposite Tallulah Bankhead. More big roles followed, notably that of Maj. Joppolo in A Bell For Adano (1945) opposite Gene Tierney.

Hodiak was most often cast as a tough but sensitive military man, with roles in such films as "Sunday Dinner for a Soldier" (1944), "Command Decision" (1948), "Battleground" (1949), "The Miniver Story" (1950), "Mission Over Korea" (1953), and "On the Threshold of Space" (1956). He also played Lt. Maryk in the original Broadway production of "The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial" (1953). Ironically, in real life Hodiak was excused from military service because of hypertension.

In 1953, Hodiak went to New York and made his Broadway debut in The Chase. The play was a failure, but its star received fantastic critical notices. He then originated the role of Lieutenant Maryk in Paul Gregory's production of the play The Caine Mutiny Court Martial by Herman Wouk adapted from his novel The Caine Mutiny. The play ran for two years and Hodiak's portrayal brought him nationwide acclaim.

When the show closed after its U.S. tour, Hodiak began work on Trial (1955) at MGM, playing the prosecuting attorney. When it wrapped, he played Major Ward Thomas in On The Threshold of Space (1956) at 20th Century Fox.

At the age of forty-one, Hodiak suffered a fatal heart attack in the bathroom of the Tarzana, California home he built for his parents. He was shaving and getting ready to go to the studio to complete his scenes in On The Threshold of Space. It was later decided his performance was far enough along to release the movie. He is interred in Block 303, Crypt D-1, of the main mausoleum at Calvary Cemetery, Los Angeles.

He was married to actress Anne Baxter (married July 7, 1946-divorced January 27, 1953). They had one daughter, Katrina Hodiak (born July 9, 1951).

John Hodiak has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in Radio at 6101 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood.

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John Hodiak's Timeline

1914
April 16, 1914
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
1946
1946
Age 31
1951
July 9, 1951
Age 37
Los Angeles, CA, USA
1953
1953
Age 38
1955
October 19, 1955
Age 41
Los Angeles, CA, USA