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S. John Launer


Actor S. John Launer, who often played doctors, judges and police chiefs, died of natural causes in Tarzana on Sept. 8. He was 86.

His screen career spanned 30 years, starting with an appearance in “Creature With the Atom Brain,” dozens of roles in film and TV and a final credit as a judge in the 1987 TV movie “The Billionaire Boys Club.”

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, he played the judge who sentenced Elvis to prison in “Jailhouse Rock,” the prison official who led Susan Hayward to the gas chamber in “I Want to Live,” the absent-minded bank president who could never remember the bank vault’s combination in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Marnie” and the CEO of Pepsi-Cola in “Mommie Dearest.”

He also played a police chief in several episodes of “Dragnet” and the judge in 32 episodes of “Perry Mason.” On TV, Launer appeared in shows including “Ben Casey,” “Dr. Kildare,” “Marcus Welby,” “The Mod Squad,” “Dragnet,” “Gunsmoke” and “Bonanza.”

He is survived by his daughter Lori and son Dale, a screenwriter.

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