John Randolph


Also known as: Emanuel Hirsch Cohen


Born: June 1, 1915
New York, New York, USA

Died: February 24, 2004
Hollywood, California, USA

John Randolph, an accomplished character actor whose career include Broadway collaborations with Orson Welles and the Lunts, as well as a Tony Award-winning performance in Neil Simon's Broadway Bound, died Feb. 24, 2004, at his home in Hollywood, the New York Times reported. He was 88. Mr. Randolph appeared in dozens of Broadway plays and musicals, his career on the stage culminating in the final play in Neil Simon's "Brighton Beach trilogy," Broadway Bound, in which he was honored for his portrayal of the cranky, opinionated grandfather Ben. As in many another Randolph performance, the character was far from shy, plain-spoken and wielded his gravelly Bronx accent for purposes both comical and menacing. Frank Rich, writing in the New York Times, said he played Ben with "a matchless mixture of buried affection and shrewd comic timing."

Obituary: After winning the Tony, Mr. Randolph spend the remainder of his career in film (save a brief stint in Broadway's Prelude to a Kiss), where he made an impression as difficult, but lovable father figures in "Prizzi's Honor" and "You've Got Mail."

Mr. Randolph made his Broadway debut as a Roman herald in a short-lived 1938 Charles Hopkins production of Coriolanus. Producer Hopkins used him several more times. His first musical experience came with 1940's Lane-Harburg show, Hang on to Your Hats. Again, his part was small. His first bonafied hit came with the war drama Command Decision, followed by William Inge's Come Back, Little Sheba.

During his long career, Mr. Randolph—who was possessed of piercing eyes (often emanating a sly twinkle) and a wide, expressive mouth—seemed to have encountered every towering talent in the theatre. He performed in Orson's Welles' production of Native Son in Chicago, and was directed by Lee Strasberg in Peer Gynt in 1951. He was in the original productions of Lerner and Loewe's Paint Your Wagon, Harold Arlen and Truman Capote's House of Flowers, which was staged by Peter Brook, and Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music. He acted in Robert Anderson's All Summer Long, directed by Alan Schneider; appeared with Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn in Triple Play; and was directed by Jerome Robbins in the Anne Bancroft production of Mother Courage.

The actor worked steadily throughout the '50s and '60s, despite having been blacklisted for having refused to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955.

One of his most noteworthy credits was The Visit, the 1958 production of the Durrenmatt drama which was Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne's swan song. He played Police Chief Schultz, a gruff character well within Mr. Randolph's range. During a pre-Broadway engagement in Boston, he got he feeling he was going to be fired. When Lunt asked him to visit his hotel room one evening, he was sure of it. Instead, Lunt, a notorious disciplinarian, rehearsed with Randolph throughout the night until the actors felt confident of their scenes together. Mr. Randolph told of leaving the hotel room in the early morning feeling artistically elated.

John Randolph was born Emanuel Hirsch Cohen in the Bronx. He attended City College and studied in the Federal Theater Project. His wife of 41 years, Sarah Cunningham, died in 1986. He is survived by a daughter and a son.



Playbill Cover - Prelude to a Kiss Prelude to a Kiss
May 1, 1990 - May 19, 1991
Old Man Performer
Playbill Cover - Broadway Bound Broadway Bound
Dec. 4, 1986 - Sep. 25, 1988
Ben Performer
Playbill Cover - The American Clock The American Clock
Nov. 20, 1980 - Nov. 30, 1980
Moe Baum Performer
Playbill Cover - Our Town Our Town
Nov. 27, 1969 - Dec. 27, 1969
Mr. Webb Performer
Playbill Cover - My Sweet Charlie My Sweet Charlie
Dec. 6, 1966 - Dec. 31, 1966
Mr. Treadwell Performer
Playbill Cover - Conversation at Midnight Conversation at Midnight
Nov. 12, 1964 - Nov. 14, 1964
Anselmo Performer
Playbill Cover - A Case of Libel A Case of Libel
Oct. 10, 1963 - May 9, 1964
Dennis Corcoran Performer
Playbill Cover - Mother Courage and Her Children Mother Courage and Her Children
Mar. 28, 1963 - May 11, 1963
Peasant Performer
    Recruiting Officer Performer
    Soldier Performer
Playbill Cover - The Sound of Music The Sound of Music
Nov. 16, 1959 - Jun. 15, 1963
Franz Performer
Triple Play
Apr. 15, 1959 - May 16, 1959
Mr. Abrams Performer
Playbill Cover - The Visit The Visit
May 5, 1958 - Nov. 29, 1958
Police Chief Schultz Performer
Playbill Cover - Miss Isobel Miss Isobel
Dec. 26, 1957 - Feb. 8, 1958
Howard Performer
Playbill Cover - The Wooden Dish The Wooden Dish
Oct. 6, 1955 - Oct. 15, 1955
Ed Mason Performer
Playbill Cover - The Time of Your Life The Time of Your Life
Jan. 19, 1955 - Jan. 30, 1955
McCarthy Performer
Playbill Cover - House of Flowers House of Flowers
Dec. 30, 1954 - May 21, 1955
Captain Jonas Performer
Who's Who
Playbill Cover - All Summer Long All Summer Long
Sep. 23, 1954 - Nov. 13, 1954
Harry Performer
Madam, Will You Walk
Dec. 1, 1953 - Jan. 10, 1954
Officer Mallon
Jan. 16, 1990 - Jan. 21, 1990
Playbill Cover - Room Service Room Service
Apr. 6, 1953 - Apr. 18, 1953
Gordon Miller Performer
The Grey-eyed People
Dec. 17, 1952 - Dec. 20, 1952
Delivery Man Performer
Playbill Cover - Seagulls Over Sorrento Seagulls Over Sorrento
Sep. 11, 1952 - Sep. 20, 1952
Able Seaman Turner Performer
Playbill Cover - Paint Your Wagon Paint Your Wagon
Nov. 12, 1951 - Jul. 19, 1952
Mike Mooney Performer
Peer Gynt
Jan. 28, 1951 - Feb. 24, 1951
Aslak Performer
    Ensemble Performer
    Herr Trompetstraale Performer
    The Voice Performer
Playbill Cover - The Golden State The Golden State
Nov. 25, 1950 - Dec. 16, 1950
Joe Williamson Performer
Playbill Cover - Come Back, Little Sheba Come Back, Little Sheba
Feb. 15, 1950 - Jul. 29, 1950
Milkman Performer
Playbill Cover - Command Decision Command Decision
Oct. 1, 1947 - Sep. 18, 1948
Lt. Jake Goldberg Performer
Playbill Cover - Hold on to Your Hats Hold on to Your Hats
Sep. 11, 1940 - Feb. 1, 1941
Radio Announcer Performer
Playbill Cover - Medicine Show Medicine Show
Apr. 12, 1940 - May 11, 1940
Mac Performer
Jan. 25, 1938 - Feb. 12, 1938
Roman Herald Performer
Captain Jinks of the Horse Marines
Jan. 25, 1938 - Feb. 12, 1938
The Times Reporter Performer
No More Peace
Jan. 25, 1938 - Feb. 12, 1938
Jacob Performer

Inside the Playbill (2)

See more Who's Who


Drama Desk Award

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
1987 Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play Broadway Bound Winner

Tony Award

Year Category Production Winner/Nominee
1987 Featured Actor in a Play Broadway Bound Winner
You are submitting a comment about: The page you are currently on: John Randolph - Broadway Theatre Credits, Photos, Who's Who - Playbill Vault
The website in general
What are you writing about?
Who are you?
Explain your reason for writing to us