Born in Pittsburgh on April 16, 1914, actor John Hodiak grew up in Detroit. He was interested in performing arts from an early age, appearing in church plays while a youth in the Motor City. Graduating from high school in the depths of the Great Depression, he worked odd jobs and took diction lessons to rid himself of an accent before finding work as a radio announcer at a Detroit station. As his career advanced, he took a acting job at a radio station in Chicago. Unable to serve in the military during World War II due to high blood pressure, Hodiak gambled on Hollywood and landed a contract at MGM. After a few roles in such films as the comedy/drama A Stranger in Town (1943; with Jean Rogers and Richard Carlson) and the comedy I Dood It (1943; with Red Skelton), he was loaned to Fox and cast in Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat (1944; with Tallulah Bankhead). With so many actors in the service during World War II, this film helped Hodiak emerge as a popular leading man in the latter days of the war.

Anne Baxter and John Hodiak

Hodiak with wife Anne Baxter in 1947

On July 7, 1946, Hodiak married actress Anne Baxter. The couple met on the set of the 20th Century Fox drama Sunday Dinner for a Soldier (1944). By the time their daughter, Katrina, was born in 1951, Hodiak's career was in serious decline, while Baxter's film career had soared, particularly after her Academy Award nomination for All About Eve (1950; with Bette Davis and Gary Merrill). Whereas Hodiak once had been in starring roles in such films as Somewhere in the Night (1946; with Richard Conte) and The Arnelo Affair (1947; with Frances Gifford), by the late 1940s he was relegated to supporting roles in The Bribe (1949; with Robert Taylor) and Across the Wide Missouri (1951; with Clark Gable and Ricardo Montalban). The differences in their careers did the marriage no favors, and the couple divorced in January 1953.

the films of john hodiak

Lifeboat (1944)

Hume Cronin, Henry Hull, Tallulah Bankhead, John Hodiak, Mary Anderson, and Canada Lee

From Alfred Hitchcock's suspenser Lifeboat, released by 20th Century Fox. Pictured are Hume Cronin, Henry Hull, Tallulah Bankhead, John Hodiak, Mary Anderson, and Canada Lee

Maisie Goes to Reno (1944)

John Hodiak and Ann Sothern

As Maisie, Ann Sothern tries to save John Hodiak's marriage in the MGM comedy series entry Maisie Goes to Reno

Marriage Is a Private Affair (1944)

Lana Turner and John Hodiak

With Lana Turner in the MGM war picture Marriage Is a Private Affair

The Harvey Girls (1946)

Judy Garland and John Hodiak

With Judy Garland in the big-budget MGM musical The Harvey Girls

Somewhere in the Night (1946)

Lou Nova, Nancy Guild, and John Hodiak

From the 20th Century Fox film noir thriller Somewhere in the Night with Lou Nova and Nancy Guild

Two Smart People (1946)

Lucille Ball and John HodiakJohn Hodiak and Elisha Cook Jr.

LEFT: Hodiak and Lucille Ball are fellow con artists in the MGM crime drama Two Smart People. RIGHT: With Elisha Cook Jr.

Desert Fury (1947)

John Hodiak, Lizabeth Scott, and Wendell CoreyLizabeth Scott and John HodiakLizabeth Scott, John Hodiak, and Mary Astor

LEFT: With Lizabeth Scott and Wendell Corey in the Paramount film noir thriller Desert Fury. CENTER: With Lizabeth Scott LEFT: With With Lizabeth Scott and Mary Astor

The Arnelo Affair (1947)

John Hodiak and Frances Gifford

With Frances Gifford in the MGM crime drama The Arnelo Affair

Malaya (1949)

John Hodiak, Spencer Tracy, and James Stewart

With Spencer Tracy and James Stewart in the MGM adventure Malaya

Ambush (1950)

Robert Taylor, John Hodiak, and Jean Hagen

From the MGM western Ambush with Robert Taylor and Jean Hagen

Night Into Morning (1951)

John Hodiak and Ray Milland

With Ray Milland in the MGM tearjerker Night Into Morning

Battle Zone (1952)

John Hodiak and Linda Christian

From the Allied Artists war drama Battle Zone with Linda Christian

Trial (1955)

John Hodiak, Glenn Ford, Rafael Campos, and Dorothy McGuire

With Glenn Ford, Rafael Campos, and Dorothy McGuire in the MGM drama Trial. This was the last film Hodiak completed

later years

By the early 1950s, John Hodiak was determined to revive his career, and he found roles on Broadway in the plays The Chase and The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial. Although he earned great notices, his film career slowed even further into the mid 1950s. In the final stages of completing his role in On the Threshold of Space (1956; with Guy Madison and Virginia Leith), Hodiak died suddenly of a heart attack at his home in Tarzana, California, on the morning of October 19, 1955, at the age of 41. He was survived by his daughter, a sister, and his parents.

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On the Threshold of Space (1956) with Guy Madison, Virginia Leith, Dean Jagger, Warren Stevens, Martin Milner, and Ken Clark
Trial (1955) with Glenn Ford, Dorothy McGuire, Arthur Kennedy, Katy Jurado, Rafael Campos, Robert Middleton, John Hoyt, Elisha Cook Jr., and Whit Bissell
Dragonfly Squadron (1954) with Barbara Britton, Bruce Bennett, Gerald Mohr, Chuck Connors, John Lupton, Benson Fong, and Fess Parker
Conquest of Cochise (1953) with Robert Stack and Joy Page
Mission Over Korea (1953) with John Derek, Audrey Totter, Maureen O'Sullivan, Harvey Lembeck, Rex Reason
Ambush at Tomahawk Gap (1953) with John Derek and David Brian
Battle Zone (1952) with Linda Christian, Stephen McNally, and Martin Milner
The Sellout (1952) with Walter Pidgeon, Audrey Totter, Paula Raymond, Cameron Mitchell, and Karl Malden
Across the Wide Missouri (1951) with Clark Gable, Ricardo Montalban, Adolphe Menjou, J. Carrol Naish, Jack Holt, Alan Napier, and Richard Anderson
The People Against O'Hara (1951) with Spencer Tracy, Pat O'Brien, Diana Lynn, James Arness, Yvette Duguay, William Campbell, and Richard Anderson
Night Into Morning (1951) with Ray Milland, Nancy Davis, Lewis Stone, Jean Hagen, Rosemary DeCamp, and Dawn Addams
The Miniver Story (1950) with Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Cathy O'Donnell, Reginald Owen, and Peter Finch
A Lady Without Passport (1950) with Hedy Lamarr, James Craig, and George Macready
Ambush (1950) with Robert Taylor, Arlene Dahl, and Jean Hagen
Malaya (1949) with Spencer Tracy, James Stewart, Sydney Greenstreet, Lionel Barrymore, and Gilbert Roland
Battleground (1949) with Van Johnson, Ricardo Montalban, and Marshall Thompson
The Bribe (1949) with Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Charles Laughton, Vincent Price, and John Hoyt
Command Decision (1948) with Clark Gable, Walter Pidgeon, Van Johnson, Brian Donlevy, Marshall Thompson, Cameron Mitchell, and Ray Collins
Homecoming (1948) with Clark Gable, Lana Turner, Anne Baxter, Ray Collins, Cameron Mitchell, Marshall Thompson, and Lurene Tuttle
Love from a Stranger (1947) with Sylvia Sidney and John Howard
Desert Fury (1947) with Lizabeth Scott, Burt Lancaster, Wendell Corey, and Mary Astor
The Arnelo Affair (1947) with Frances Gifford, Dean Stockwell, Eve Arden, Warner Anderson, and Joan Woodbury
Somewhere in the Night (1946) with Nancy Guild, Lloyd Nolan, Richard Conte, and Sheldon Leonard
Two Smart People (1946) with Lucille Ball, Lloyd Nolan, Hugo Haas, and Elisha Cook Jr.
The Harvey Girls (1946) with Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Angela Lansbury, Preston Foster, Marjorie Main, Chill Wills, Selena Royle, Cyd Charisse, and Morris Ankrum
A Bell for Adano (1945) with Gene Tierney, William Bendix, Glenn Langan, Richard Conte, Harry Morgan, Reed Hadley, and Hugo Haas
Sunday Dinner for a Soldier (1944) with Anne Baxter, Anne Revere, Chill Wills, Bobby Driscoll, and Jane Darwell
Marriage Is a Private Affair (1944) with Lana Turner, James Craig, Frances Gifford, Hugh Marlowe, Natalie Schafer, Keenan Wynn, and Morris Ankrum
Maisie Goes to Reno (1944) with Ann Sothern, Ava Gardner, and Chick Chandler
Song of Russia (1944) with Robert Taylor, Susan Peters, and Darryl Hickman
Lifeboat (1944) with Tallulah Bankhead, William Bendix, Walter Slezak, Henry Hull, Heather Angel, and Hume Cronyn
I Dood It (1943) with Red Skelton and Eleanor Powell
A Stranger in Town (1943) with Frank Morgan, Jean Rogers, Richard Carlson, Chill Wills, and Gladys Blake

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Watch John Hodiak's 1946 thriller Somewhere In the Night

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