Actor John Phillip Law, Angel In 'Barbarella,' Dies At 70

By: AP
By: AP

LOS ANGELES - John Phillip Law, the strikingly handsome 1960s movie actor who portrayed an angel in the futuristic "Barbarella" and a lovesick Russian seaman in "The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming," has died. He was 70.

Law died Tuesday at his Los Angeles home, his former wife, Shawn Ryan, told the Los Angeles Times. The cause of death was not announced.

With vivid eyes, blond hair and imposing physique, Law was much in demand by filmmakers in the late 1960s and early '70s.

He gained wide notice in 1966 with Alan Arkin, Carl Reiner and Theo Bikel in "The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming," Norman Jewison's Cold War comedy in which a Soviet submarine runs aground off a peaceful New England island town.

He played the sweet Russian youth who falls in love with a local American girl in the film, which was nominated for four Oscars including best picture, actor (Arkin) and director.

French director Roger Vadim put Law's looks to good use in his 1968 science fiction film, "Barbarella," which starred Vadim's then-wife, Jane Fonda, as a sexy space traveler in the faraway future. Law wore wings to portray Pygar, a blind angel.

"I've had more kicks out of playing far-out things," Law told the Los Angeles Times in 1966. "It's like putting on a funny face and going out in front of people and going, `yaaaaaa.'"

Messages left Thursday for Fonda's New York publicist were not immediately returned.

Law was World War I ace Baron Manfred von Richtofen in the 1971 "The Red Baron" and Charlton Heston's son in "The Hawaiians," a 1970 sequel to "Hawaii," based on James Michener's sprawling novel "Hawaii."

In Otto Preminger's 1967 film, "Hurry Sundown," he was a war veteran struggling to preserve his farm against a land speculator played by Michael Caine. Fonda played Caine's wife.

He continued his career in a variety of U.S. and foreign films and television over the past 30 years, including appearances in "The Young and the Restless" and "Murder, She Wrote."

Law was a California native, born in 1937 to actress Phyllis Sallee, and her husband, a police officer. He told the Los Angeles Times he did some extra work in films as a child. He said he put acting ambitions aside in his teens, but his interest was renewed in a college drama class.

He worked in the theater in New York for a while before breaking into the movies, spending some time in the Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center, whose directors included the great Elia Kazan.


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