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John Dehner made the weird leap from Disney animator to actor


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For The Andy Griffith Present episode “Aunt Bee’s Medication Man,” prolific character actor John Dehner was introduced in to play a huckster promoting Aunt Bee on some snake oil.

You would possibly acknowledge Dehner finest by his bushy mustache, which he began sporting on the age of 19 and by no means stopped.

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However at 19, Dehner didn’t know he wished to be an actor but. His dad was a painter, and he deliberate to observe in his footsteps, so Dehner went to artwork college in New York.

With a dream of changing into a high animator, Dehner took his first job at Walt Disney Studios, working in a job often known as an “in-betweener.”

Dehner stated an in-betweener “is a man who attracts all the pieces that goes ‘in between’ bits of motion as sketched by the animators.”

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One of many earliest movies he labored on was the attractive Fantasiaadopted by The Reluctant Dragonafter which Bambi. Dehner stated he wasn’t the one sending Mickey’s mop marching in Fantasia or making Thumper thump in Bambialthough.

“Generally I spent days merely drawing curly strains to simulate waves, or cloud outlines, or horizons,” Dehner stated.

Whereas Dehner was sending colours swirling over the animation cels, he was dreaming of transferring up at Walt Disney Studios. Some days he would draw till his fingers felt numb and he would begin seeing double, nevertheless it was value it as a result of he imagined that at some point, he’d change into a movie tycoon.

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However we all know now that wasn’t the longer term that awaited Dehner. As a substitute, Dehner fell in love with a secretary working within the entrance workplace who had the best smile he’d ever seen, then obtained drafted, reducing his animation profession brief.

Whereas at warfare, Dehner found the radio, changing into a common announcer and newscaster, and when he returned, he wished to strive appearing.

By the early Forties, Dehner took on any position he might get within the motion pictures, shortly falling in love with appearing, though he broke his hand throwing a punch in his first scene he ever filmed.

His dedication helped him quickly change into typecast as a villain, showing in larger roles the longer he saved at it, along with his distinct mustache making him an more and more acquainted face onscreen.

“I used to be dangerous man within the outdated motion pictures,” Dehner advised the Columbia Report in 1972. “I labored whereas earlier than I used to be capable of do something I wished.”

It seems that what Dehner wished most in his profession was an opportunity to do extra comedy. However after making his title by film roles, in the Fifties, he nonetheless obtained typecast to play dramas and Westerns, reveals like Perry Mason and Wagon Prepare.

As an actor, Dehner got here to idolize Gary Cooper, although, and he by no means gave up hope that he’d ultimately be capable to do extra assorted roles.

“To me the best actor was Gary Cooper,” Dehner stated. “He was my hero. The guy might do something. He wasn’t restricted to Westerns.”

It wasn’t till The Andy Griffith Present gave Dehner his first comedic position in 1963 that the veteran character actor lastly obtained a probability to show how humorous he may very well be.

“Aunt Bee’s Medication Man” paved the way in which for what would change into Dehner’s favourite position he ever performed when he obtained forged as Cy Bennett on The Doris Day Present within the early Seventies.

Lastly, he had discovered precisely what he wished to be doing along with his life: taking part in editor to Doris Day.

“In drama, you’ve got a lead into what you’re doing, however comedy is immediate,” Dehner stated. “There’s extra improvisation. It’s a lot quicker and your finest sense of timing is continually being referred to as upon.”

As Cy Bennett, Dehner felt free to improvise and located himself continually attempting to convey extra to scenes, even when he was simply within the background.

He discovered this work extra demanding and extra satisfying, and in the Seventies, declared he was rather more curious about showing on tv than in motion pictures.

“As a result of it’s quick and places calls for upon you,” Dehner stated of TV appearing. “One has to supply shortly. On a film set, you’ll be able to sit for 4 hours doing nothing. Tv can be educating me some necessary classes in life. I’m studying to get pleasure from myself extra. I’m actually having fun with John Dehner for the primary time. I’m taking part in the character I like, and having fun with what occurs to me.”

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