John Qualen

John Qualen

  • Born on
    • December 8th, 1899
  • Died on
    • September 12th, 1987
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia John Qualen (born Johan Mandt Kvalen, December 8, 1899 – September 12, 1987) was a Canadian-American character actor of Norwegian heritage who specialized in Scandinavian roles. Qualen was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, the son of immigrants from Norway; his father was a Lutheran minister and changed the family's original surname, "Kvalen", to "Qualen" – though some sources give Oleson, later Oleson Kvalen as Qualen's earlier surnames. His father's ministering meant many moves and John was 20 when he graduated from Elgin High School in 1920. Though he was awarded a scholarship to Northwestern University after he won an oratory contest he never attended college. In a Milwaukee Journal interview he said he needed to start working and did so with the Chattaqua Circuit. Eventually reaching Broadway, he gained his big break as the Swedish janitor in Elmer Rice's Street Scene. His movie career began when he recreated the role in the film version. This was followed by his appearance in John Ford's Arrowsmith (1931) which began a more than thirty year membership in the director's "stock company", with important supporting roles in The Searchers (1956), Two Rode Together (1961), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) and Cheyenne Autumn (1964). Appearing in well over one hundred films, and acting extensively on television into the 1970s, Qualen performed many of his roles with various accents, usually Scandinavian, often intended for comic effect. Three of his more memorable roles showcase his versatility. Qualen assumed a Midwestern dialect as Muley, who recounts the destruction of his farm by the bank in Ford's The Grapes of Wrath (1940), and as the confused killer Earl Williams in Howard Hawks' classic comedy His Girl Friday (also 1940). As Berger, the jewelry-selling Norwegian resistance member in Michael Curtiz' Casablanca (1942), he essayed a light Scandinavian accent, but put on a thicker Mediterranean accent as the homeward-bound fisherman Locota in William Wellman's The High and the Mighty (1954) Qualen was treasurer of The Authors Club and historian of The Masquers, Hollywood's social group for actors. John Qualen was blind in his later years. He died of heart failure in 1987 in Torrance, California, and was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale. He was survived by his three daughters.

Starring John Qualen on Plex


Acting (65 Credits)

1993La Classe américaine as V12 (archive footage) (uncredited)
1966A Big Hand for the Little Lady as Jesse Buford
1965A Patch of Blue as Mr. Faber
1965I'll Take Sweden as Olaf
1965Those Calloways as Ernie Evans
1965The Sons of Katie Elder as Charlie Biller
19647 Faces of Dr. Lao as Luther Lindquist
1963The Prize as Oscar
1963Donovan's Reef as Deckhand (uncredited)
1962The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance as Peter Ericson
1961Two Rode Together as Ole Knudsen
1960North to Alaska as Logger
1960Hell Bent for Leather as Old Ben
1960Elmer Gantry as Sam - Storekeeper
1959Anatomy of a Murder as Deputy Sheriff Sulo
1958My World Dies Screaming as Jonah Snell
1958The Gun Runners as Pop
1957The Big Land as Sven Johnson
1956The Searchers as Lars Jorgensen
1955The Sea Chase as Chief Engineer Schmitt
1955At Gunpoint as Livingstone
1954The High and the Mighty as Jose Locota
1953Ambush at Tomahawk Gap as Jonas P. Travis
1952Hans Christian Andersen as Burgomaster
1951Goodbye, My Fancy as Professor Dingley
1950Woman on the Run as Maibus
1950Buccaneer's Girl as Vegetable Seller
1949The Big Steal as Julius Seton
1948Hollow Triumph as Swangron
1947The Fugitive as A Refugee Doctor
1945Adventure as Model T
1945Captain Kidd as Bartholomew Blivens
1945Roughly Speaking as Svend Olsen
1944An American Romance as Anton Dubechek
1944Dark Waters as Uncle Norbert
1942The Jungle Book as The Barber
1942Tortilla Flat as Jose Maria Corcoran
1942Larceny, Inc as Sam Bachrach
1942Arabian Nights as Aladdin
1942Casablanca as Berger
1941Out of the Fog as Olaf Johnson
1941All That Money Can Buy as Miser Stevens
1941The Shepherd of the Hills as Coot Royal
1940Angels Over Broadway as Charles Engle
1940The Long Voyage Home as Axel
1940The Grapes of Wrath as Muley Graves
1940Knute Rockne All American as Lars Knutson Rockne
1940His Girl Friday as Earl Williams
1939Let Us Live as Dan (uncredited)
1939Four Wives as Frank
1938Joy of Living as Oswego
1938The Mad Miss Manton as Night Watchman at Subway Construction Site
1937Seventh Heaven as Sewer Rat
1937Nothing Sacred as Fireman (uncredited)
1936Wife vs. Secretary as Mr. Jenkins (uncredited)
1935Black Fury as Mike Shemanski
1935Charlie Chan in Paris as Concierge, Dufresne's Hotel (bit)
1935Whipsaw as Will Dabson
1934Our Daily Bread as Chris (as John T. Qualen)
1934He Was Her Man as Dutch, Santa Avila's Cabbie
1934Upperworld as Chris the Janitor
1934Hi, Nellie as Steve (uncredited)
1933Counsellor at Law as Breitstein
1931Street Scene as Karl Olsen (as John M. Qualen)
1931Arrowsmith as Henry Novak

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