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 May 13 in Los Angeles. He was 70.
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 far-away future. Law wore wings to portray Pygar, a blind angel.
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“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.'”
He 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.
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, and worked in the theater in New York for a brief time before breaking into the movies, spending some time in the Repertory Theater of Lincoln Center, whose directors included the great Elia Kazan.
— Associated Press