‘Dark Shadows’ Actor John Karlen Dead at 86 Had Full Life and Served in Korean War
Image: Lisa Rose/JPI
Emmy award-winning actor passed away.
Soaps.com is saddened to report that actor John Karlen has passed away on January 22 at the age of 86. The actor, best known for his roles on Dark Shadows and Cagney and Lacey, died of congestive heart failure at a hospice in Burbank, California.
Born John Adam Karlewicz in Brooklyn, New York on May 28, 1933, Karlen served in the Korean War and later studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. He began his career on Broadway, debuting as Tom Junior in Tennessee Williams’ Sweet Bird of Youth in 1960. While working on Broadway he began to appear on television programs such as The Detectives, East Side/West Side and as Danny Boy Delaney in the soap The Doctors in 1963.
In 1967 Karlen got his big television break when he was cast as Willie Loomis on ABC’s Dark Shadows. He replaced actor James Hall, who left abruptly after five episodes. Loomis was the tortured character who freed the vampire Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) from his grave. He aired on the show until it ended in 1971, later playing different characters such as Desmond Collin, Kendrick Young and Alex Jenkins. He also appeared in the 1970 film House of Dark Shadows and the 1971 film Night of Dark Shadows.
Karlen was later cast as Harvey Lacey, the husband to Tyne Daly’s Mary Beth Lacey, on the CBS police drama Cagney & Lacey. It was a part he played from 1982 until 1988. He received three Emmy nominations for the role and finally won for Outstanding Supporting Actor in 1986. After the show ended he returned for four Cagney & Lacey made for television films. Over his career, he made appearances in shows such as Hawaii Five-O, The Waltons, All in the Family, Hill Street Blues, Mad About You and Murder, She Wrote. He also appeared on the NBC soap opera Another World in 1970 as Casey. On the big screen, he was featured in the 1976 film A Small Town In Texas, in Pennies from Heaven in 1981, and Racing With the Moon in 1984.
Karlen is survived by his son, Adam, and his ex-wife Betty Karlen, who he was married to from 1963 until 1998. Soaps.com sends our condolences to his family and friends. We also invite readers to look through a gallery of the stars we lost in 2019.