John van Dreelen had the type of face that people remembered immediately from films and TV, but whose name never occurred to them until later, if at all. Mr. van Dreelen was a very versatile actor, speaking several languages fluently and acting in many vehicles in many different countries, in those different languages. I first encountered him back in the '60's as an impressionable teenager, and fell in love with his voice, his accent, and his acting style. He had a formula that worked for him, using various gestures and facial expressions, and he used what worked for him. I found his to be a very commanding performance depending upon what role he undertook. Unfortunately for him, due to his European heritage and looks and the fact that he spoke German, he was relegated to the status of guest-star-Nazi in many TV shows. I give John van Dreelen credit for inspiring me to learn German, a language I now speak as well as my mother tongue, English ... sometimes better. Back in the days before VCR and DVR, I used a hand-held tape recorder to record his performances in German, so that I could ask my parents later to translate for me. Once I learned German, that was no longer necessary. When I was living in Germany, I was able to see Mr. van Dreelen's performances in local TV fare, and once, while in acting school, took his Master Class. John van Dreelen was the bad guy everyone loved to hate, at least on US television. He played more sympathetic roles in Europe, was not as type cast as he was in America. He made a definite contribution to the world of acting, and I wish he were still around.
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