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Johyn Forsythe: the Sunniest Stage of his Career

June 01, 1986|Lois Romano | The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Not long ago, actor John Forsythe was waiting in a lounge at the Atlanta airport when he thought he heard his name being hollered from across the room.

"Blake! Blake Carrington!" a rather stylish woman in her 40s called out.

Forsythe looked around and shrugged. "Why, yes," he said. "I--I guess that's me."

"Blake!" the woman screeched. "What's the matter with you anyway? You treat Krystle so poorly. Why were you so mean to her last night? You are! You are! You are desperately nasty to her!"

She then began hitting the patriarch of the "Dynasty" clan with her purse.

"I thought she might start hitting me over the head," Forsythe says, relating the tale. "That must have been one episode where I was short-tempered with poor Krystle. Well, I started moving quickly toward my plane to get away from this woman. That's what I mean when I say audience involvement.

"I mean it's pretty silly, that kind of involvement. People take this whole thing so seriously and that's insane . . . "

It's a sunny, Saturday morning, and here's Blake Carrington, primed: He's sporting a wonderfully tailored navy blazer, brass buttons glistening as bright as Alexis' diamonds, and a crisp blue button-down shirt. He wears no jewelry, and smells delicious: Charles of the Ritz's "Carrington" line.

What a gent--he's been married to the same woman for 45 years, and wouldn't dream of entering a room before a woman. He's just about to have breakfast at a Washington hotel and already one waitress has gasped.

The hair is not just gray, but a fine silver-blue silk. When he smiles there are dimples; his green eyes shine. When he talks, the voice could almost be British; it is definitely moneyed. And when he bites into his English muffin, this Cary Grant of television might as well be eating Beluga on toast.

"Oh, it's you!" the waitress gushes. "You're soooo wonderful . . . ."

At 68, John Forsythe is enjoying the sunniest stage of his four-decade career. The benign and avuncular Bentley Gregg in that '50s favorite, "Bachelor Father," and the unseen voice on "Charlie's Angels" has now nailed down a seemingly permanent role as one of America's "10 sexiest men over 60."

McCall's magazine so anointed him last year. California's offbeat "Man Watchers" group recently dubbed him one of the world's most watchable men. And just a few weeks ago, TV Guide named him among the 10 most attractive men on television.

"At this advanced age, to be considered a sex symbol," he sighs. "I must say it amuses me. And it amuses my wife."

For the last five years, Forsythe has dazzled nighttime soap fans with his portrayal of the ruthless yet romantic Blake Carrington, energy tycoon. "Dynasty" suffered a major setback last fall when the writers sent the cast to darkest Moldavia for what seemed like an eternity. But though it dropped as far back as 17th in the ratings (after ending the previous season in first place), Forsythe is expecting it to be in sixth place as this television year ends.

"We had some very bad story lines," he says, "that I think have been corrected. Amanda married some prince from Moldavia and no one has been able to figure out where Moldavia is. We think somewhere east of Peoria. But we got back to what the audience expects and wants, which is stories about the family."

Indeed, it's been back to basics of late for the hairsplitting Carringtons, with plots centering on squabbles among Blake, his saintly wife Krystle (Linda Evans) and his nemesis and ex-wife Alexis (Joan Collins), who has turned into one of the most hated-but-adored villains in television history.

Forsythe and Collins are at each other's throats on the series, and they're reportedly not too fond of each other off the set.

The tabloids have been having a field day with this. Recently one featured a cover of Forsythe strangling Collins. The accompanying story said that Collins had asked for a personal bodyguard to be present during the shooting.

"Oh, baloney," he says. "She doesn't have bodyguards. We get along just fine."

Still, rumor has it that Collins and the biting, bitchy Alexis Carrington are indistinguishable.

"Sometimes with actors, they invest a lot of themselves in parts," Forsythe says tactfully. "She's absolutely right on the nose in the way she plays Alexis . . . She was always this kind of a lady. She has, I'm sure, a vision of herself as very stylish, very jet set."

Who would have thought that the road for John Lincoln Freund, a one-time Dodgers announcer at Brooklyn's Ebbets Field, would bring him to the Carrington mansion?

Born and raised in New Jersey, he dropped out of the University of North Carolina in the late '30s to take up a career in sports broadcasting. After his stint in Brooklyn, he began radio acting and traveled throughout the country with various productions. In the early '40s, Forsythe took to the stage, eventually moving from film to television. In 1979, he underwent a triple-bypass operation; his recovery seemed to coincide with the latest surge in his career.

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