John Kerr

John Kerr


Also Known As
John Grinham Kerr
Birth Place
New York City, New York, USA
November 15, 1931


A sensitive, boy-next-door leading man of American films and television in the 1950s and 60s, John Kerr was the son of actors who made a big splash in the Broadway (1953) and film (1956) versions of "Tea and Sympathy." His best known TV roles were as lawyers, a profession he opted to pursue in 1970, retiring from acting except for occasional appearances.Kerr broke into showbiz just month...

Photos & Videos

The Pit and the Pendulum - Lobby Card Set
Tea and Sympathy - Movie Poster
Gaby - Publicity Stills


A sensitive, boy-next-door leading man of American films and television in the 1950s and 60s, John Kerr was the son of actors who made a big splash in the Broadway (1953) and film (1956) versions of "Tea and Sympathy." His best known TV roles were as lawyers, a profession he opted to pursue in 1970, retiring from acting except for occasional appearances.

Kerr broke into showbiz just months after his 1952 graduation from Harvard in the Broadway production of "Bernadine." The following year, he created what is perhaps his most memorable role, Tom, the prep school lad whom his classmates believe to be a homosexual and who is eventually bedded by the schoolmaster's wife "to save him" from such a life. Kerr earned a Best Supporting Tony for his work and was whisked to Hollywood. He made his feature debut playing a suicidal patient in a mental institution in "The Cobweb" (1955). In "Gaby" (1956), he played a World War II soldier having an affair with Leslie Caron. That same year, he co-starred opposite Deborah Kerr in the film version of "Tea and Sympathy." Two years later, Kerr was the doomed Lt. Cable romantically paired with island girl France Nuyen in the musical "South Pacific." After these high profile features, he found himself by 1961 in the more modestly budgeted (to say the least) version of "The Pit and the Pendulum," produced by Roger Corman and co-starring Vincent Price. Kerr's film career effectively ended that year, although he played a few bit roles in features after receiving his law degree.

Instead, there was a decade of television work. Kerr had begun on the small screen in 1953, guest-starring on an episode of "Summer Studio One" (CBS). Throughout the 50s and into the 60s, he continued to appear in productions. He finally hooked onto a regular series with "Arrest and Trial" (ABC, 1963-64), a show that now appears to be a prototype for "Law & Order," splitting the action between the cops and the prosecutors, one of whom Kerr played. He again played a district attorney on "Peyton Place" (ABC), where his character was prosecuting Rodney Harrington (Ryan O'Neal) for murder. Since passing the California bar in 1970, Kerr has acted only occasionally. He was in the TV-movie Western "Yuma" (ABC, 1971) and from time-to-time appeared on episodes of "The Streets of San Francisco" as a detective in one or two scenes. By the 80s, he was rarely seen, although one could catch him as a ferry captain in "Bay Coven" (NBC, 1987).



Director (Feature Film)

A Poor Girl's Romance (1926)
Assistant Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Room to Rent (2000)
Bay Coven (1987)
Ferry Captain
Australian Dream (1986)
The Amateur (1981)
Cia Security Guard
The Silent Partner (1978)
3rd Detective
Incident on a Dark Street (1973)
Dealing: Or the Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues (1972)
The Longest Night (1972)
Officer Jones
Yuma (1971)
Captain White
Seven Women From Hell (1961)
Bill Jackson
The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)
Francis Barnard
Girl of the Night (1960)
Larry [Taylor]
The Crowded Sky (1960)
Mike Rule
South Pacific (1958)
Lt. Joseph Cable, USMC
The Vintage (1957)
Ernesto Barandero
The Men of Sherwood Forest (1956)
Brian of Eskdale
Tea and Sympathy (1956)
Tom Robinson Lee
Gaby (1956)
Gregory Y. Wendell
The Cobweb (1955)
Steven W. Holte
The Stratton Story (1949)
Yankee coach
Treasure Island (1934)

Film Production - Main (Feature Film)

Mutant World (2014)
Production Manager
Knockaround Guys (2002)
Production Assistant
Everybody Wins (1990)
Production Assistant
Crocodile Dundee (1986)
Production Assistant (New York)

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

The Quiet Ones (2014)
Floor Runner

Cast (Special)

Anthony Perkins: A Life in the Shadows (1999)
Berkeley Square (1959)
Peter Standish

Producer (Special)

The Alistair Cooke Salute (1992)
Executive Producer

Cast (Short)

Motion Picture Theatre Celebration (1955) (1955)
1955 Motion Picture Theatre Celebration (International) (1955)

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Washington: Behind Closed Doors (1977)

Life Events


Made Broadway debut in "Bernadine"


Starred on Broadway as sensitive schoolboy Tom in "Tea and Sympathy"


Made feature film debut in "The Cobweb"


Reprised role of Tom opposite Deborah Kerr in film version of "Tea and Sympathy"


Co-starred as Lt. Joseph Cable in "South Pacific"


Played an assistant D.A. on "Arrest and Trial" (ABC)


Played District Attorney Fowler on "Peyton Place" (ABC)


Admitted to California Bar; became practicing attorney in Beverly Hills, CA


Appeared in TV movie "Yuma" (ABC)


Landed recurring role as a prosecutor on "The Streets of San Francisco" (ABC)


Made final TV movie appearance in "The Park Is Mine" (HBO)

Photo Collections

The Pit and the Pendulum - Lobby Card Set
Here is a set of Lobby Cards from AIP's The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), starring Vincent Price and directed by Roger Corman. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
Tea and Sympathy - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Tea and Sympathy (1956). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Gaby - Publicity Stills
Here are a few photos taken to help publicize Back to MGM's Gaby (1956), starring Leslie Caron, John Kerr, and Taina Elg. Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.


Movie Clip

South Pacific (1958) -- (Movie Clip) Open, Rodgers And Hammerstein Following the overture but to similar effect, the opening credits from Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific, 1958, starring Mitzi Gaynor and Rossano Brazzi, directed by Joshua Logan.
Cobweb, The (1955) -- (Movie Clip) I Am Sometimes A Little Dictatorial Lively meeting of inmates at the pricey Midwestern psychiatric clinic, chaired by Holcomb (Edgar Stehli), bothered by Oscar Levant, Jan Arvan, Ruth Clifford and Jarma Lewis, Richard Widmark the doctor arriving, Lauren Bacall seems to be on staff, Susan Strasberg and John Kerr backing an initiative, early in Vincente Minnelli’s The Cobweb, 1955.
Cobweb, The (1955) -- (Movie Clip) I'm Phobic Inmates dining at the Midwestern psychiatric hospital (noted at the time for its resemblance to the Menninger Clinic in Kansas), Stevie (John Kerr) celebrating because he’s been chosen for an art project, and previously stable Susie (Susan Strasberg) rattled by his suggestion, in Vincente Minnelli’s The Cobweb, 1955.
Cobweb, The (1955) -- (Movie Clip) Artists Are Better Off Dead Director Vincente Minnelli through the credits followed John Kerr running through a field, with screeching strings, and he’s now picked up by Gloria Grahame in a Ford Country Squire wagon, and we’re left to infer their relationships with psychiatrist Richard Widmark, opening The Cobweb, 1955.
Tea and Sympathy (1956) -- (Movie Clip) Are Women Verboten? Laura (Deborah Kerr) visits her coach-husband Bill (Leif Erickson) at the beach then worries about young boarder Tom (John Kerr) in Vincente Minnelli's Tea and Sympathy, from Robert Anderson's play.
Tea And Sympathy (1956) -- (Movie Clip) The Joys Of Love Tom (John Kerr) is on campus for a reunion, visiting his old lodgings, recalling himself, dubbed, singing a song based on an 18th century French ballad, and visiting with his new hostess Laura (Deborah Kerr, her first appearance), early in Vincente Minnelli's Tea And Sympathy, 1956.
Pit And The Pendulum, The (1961) -- (Movie Clip) She Is Interred Below Not a bit of Edgar Allan Poe here but plenty of producer-director Roger Corman, bringing John Kerr (as Francis, from England) to Spain to meet Catherine (Luana Anders) then Nicholas (Vincent Price) Medina, who was married to his late sister, in The Pit And The Pendulum, 1961.
Pit And The Pendulum, The (1961) -- (Movie Clip) I Thought To Spare You Visiting English Francis (John Kerr) dines with Spaniard Nicholas (Vincent Price), ex-husband of his mysteriously dead sister, and his sister (Luana Anders), joined by the doctor (Antony Carbone), who has revelations, in Roger Corman's version of Edgar Allan Poe's The Pit And The Pendulum, 1961.



Geoffrey Kerr
Actor. Born on January 25, 1895 in London, England.
June Walker
Actor. Born on June 14, 1904 in New York, New York; died February 3, 1966.