Thursday, February 17, 2005

Double Secret Probation

I'd like to think the passing of the fine Canadian actor John Vernon two weeks ago would have garnered more attention had it not occurred three days before the death of Ossie Davis. Vernon was never nominated for an Oscar or a Golden Globe--he spent most of his career playing character parts in films like Dirty Harry and I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. He was also a staple in cheesy '80s T&A flicks such as Fraternity Vacation. But without a doubt, Vernon will forever be remembered as the vile Dean Wormer in Animal House. With his bellowing voice and sinister eyes, Vernon played Wormer as Inspector Javert, obsessed with squashing the Delta House. Sure, he had his faults--making shady deals with town locals for one--but you couldn't help thinking that deep in his heart, Wormer only wanted the best for his school.

As the dean of Faber College would say, "Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son."


Anonymous said...

Vernon was one of the best bad guys of all time, and it's to his credit he never indulged in the raving, slobbering school of evil personified.

He was COLD, man...

Brian Moore

Jay D. Homnick said...

While we are engaged in awarding posthumous kudos to actors whose performances, while rarely starring, were often scintillating, permit me to mention here another such gentleman.

This recollection was occasioned in me during the TWS cruise, when I saw parts of A Few Good Men, which was replayed three or four times on the Holland-America movie station.

The performance of J.T. Walsh in that film, while it did not call for much dramatic range, was one of many excellent roles in an extensive career that was cut short by his untimely passing in 1998 at age 54.

Possibly his most unique facet was the ability to play a good guy, as in A Few Good Men, a bad guy, as in Breakdown, or a neutral guy trying his best to balance his various obligations, as in Good Morning Vietnam.

There is a nice eulogy and critical review at