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John Lund, 81; Radio, Stage and Film Actor

May 12, 1992|BURT A. FOLKART | TIMES STAFF WRITER

John Lund, the boyishly good-looking film star whose choicest roles came early in his career, is dead, police said Monday.

Lund, whose features were typical of the Nordic types popular in pictures of the 1930s and '40s, was 81 and was found dead in his Coldwater Canyon home Sunday night, Los Angeles Police Sgt. Roy Kauntz said.

No cause of death was immediately reported but Kauntz said the actor had a history of heart problems. Lund's longtime friend, Allan Nixon, added that the actor had been ill for several months.

One of six children of a Norwegian glassblower, Lund probably will be remembered best for three pictures: "High Society," "A Foreign Affair" and "To Each His Own," a 1946 film for which Olivia de Haviland won an Oscar.

Lund, his blond hair dyed black as usual when he appeared opposite light-haired actresses, portrayed both father and son in that much-praised melodrama, which dealt with illegitimacy at a time when sexual promiscuity was rarely discussed, particularly on the screen.

His other noted co-stars included Grace Kelly (in her last acting role, "High Society"), Marlene Dietrich and Jean Arthur ("A Foreign Affair") and Betty Hutton ("The Perils of Pauline").

Lund was working at a series of manual jobs in his native Rochester, N.Y., when he took a small role in a play at the 1939 World's Fair. That led to a Broadway career that started in 1941 in "As You Like It" and then to a few radio jobs ("Chaplain Jim," "The NBC University Theatre of the Air" and "The Screen Directors' Playhouse.")

After a part in Broadway's "The Hasty Heart," he was signed to a Paramount contract for "To Each His Own," playing De Haviland's lover and her son born out of wedlock.

Subsequent roles came in "Miss Tatlock's Millions," "My Friend Irma," "Duchess of Idaho," "Darling, How Could You?," "Steel Town," "Bronco Buster," "The Woman They Almost Lynched," "White Feather," "Battle Stations" and "Affair in Reno."

Back on radio in the mid-1950s as his waning film career was reduced to minor roles in secondary pictures, he played the title role in CBS' highly successful detective drama, "Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar." It was the last of the network dramatic shows when it went off the air in 1962.

Lund retired in 1963 after serving as Ronald Reagan's vice president when Reagan headed the Screen Actors Guild.

He is survived by a sister.

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