Barbarella’s Blind Angel – John Phillip Law

One of the first VHS movies I can remember renting, once I bought a machine, was a 1968 film called Barbarella. It is a erotic sci-fi film based on the French Barbarella comics and starring Jane Fonda.

Barbarella is famous for a sequence in which Fonda undresses in zero gravity during the opening credits. It also stars Milo O’Shea as Durand-Durand ( Yes, the 80’s band Duran-Duran got their name from this film) and John Phillip Law as the blind angel, Pygar.

John Phillip Law plays the angel Pygar in the 1968 film

Tall, blond stage and screen actor John Phillip Law has taken his Final Taxi at the age of 70.

Born in Los Angeles on September 7, 1937, Law was the son of Los Angeles County deputy sheriff John Law and actress Phyllis Sallee. He grew up on Hollywood studio back lots and was a second-generation graduate of Hollywood High. While at the University of Hawaii he took drama classes and decided to become an actor.

Moving to New York in the early 1960s, made his Broadway debut in Garson Kanin’s “Come One Strong” with Van Johnson and Carroll Baker. He then appeared in the original New York production of “The Changeling” with Fay Dunaway at Lincoln Center. He stalked the stage in two productions of “Dracula,” and won the hearts of children as The Aviator in “The Little Prince.”

Going to Europe, Law worked in several Italian films, where director Norman Jewison spotted him. Law’s star rose when Jewison cast him as young Soviet submariner Alexei Kolchin, who successfully romanced a teenage babysitter in 1966’s “The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming”, a 1966 Cold War comedy set in New England.

The following year, the role earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Most Promising Newcomer – Male. Also in 1967, he received fifth place in the Golden Laurel nominations for Male New Face. Law became a sex symbol in the 1960s. He was a VIP guest at Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion and in Hollywood society.

In 1968,Law next gained fame as bronzed angel Pygar in “Barbarella”, Roger Vadim’s science-fiction fantasy starring Fonda, who was married to the director at the time. Wearing huge, feathery wings, Pygar protected Fonda’s gun-toting, go-go-booted heroine in outer space.

His subsequent films included “Hurry Sundown” (1967), “The Sergeant” (1968 ) opposite Rod Steiger, and “The Red Baron” (1970). Law starred in the 1971 flop “The Love Machine” (based on Jacqueline Susann’s pulp novel) as ruthless Robin Stone.

Law starred in more than 50 films produced in over 20 countries. He appeared in many action-adventure movies, including “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad” (1974), “The Cassandra Crossing” (1977) and “Tarzan the Ape Man” (1981). Other movies included “Danger Diabolik”, “The Hawaiians” and “Death Rides A Horse.”

Law appeared opposite numerous distinguished European and U.S. actors, including Alan Arkin, Claudia Cardinale, Bo Derek, Ava Gardner, Mel Gibson, Richard Harris, Charlton Heston, Burt Lancaster, Sophia Loren, Groucho Marx, Sam Neil, Anthony Quinn, George Raft and Ugo Tognazzi. He worked for such noted producers and directors as Robert Wise, Otto Preminger, Carlo Ponti, Franco Rossi, Dino De Laurentiis, George Cosmatos and Dennis Hopper.

In television, guest-starred as Jim Grainger (Cricket’s father) on the daytime TV drama “The Young and the Restless.”

As his career began in the 1960s, Law lived in a 1924 Los Feliz mansion with brother Tom, a former road manager for Peter, Paul and Mary. The two brothers made the residence — known as the Castle — a gathering place for such up-and-coming pop singers and artists as Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol and Tiny Tim. The experience was documented in the 1987 photo and text collection Flashing on the Sixties by Tom’s former wife, Lisa Law.

In 1997, Law had a rare turn in cartoons in episodes of “Spider-Man: The Animated Series”, guesting as the Cat/John Hardesky.

In 2001 he appeared in Roman Coppola’s directorial debut “CQ”, a homage to the Italian spy/sci-fi B-movies in which Law often starred during the 1960s


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