John Phillip Law 1937-2008


John Phillip Law as the sexy silent super thief, Diabolik.

One of my favorite actors and one of the most beautiful men to ever appear in movies has passed away at the age of 70. It’s mind-boggling to consider how many terrific and entertaining films that John Philip Law appeared in. He may not be a household name and if imdb.com is to be believed, I don’t think he ever won any acting awards but he was always fun to watch and I never get tired of looking at him. He’s really one of cinema’s great male beauties and an important counterculture figure. I will miss him but I’m thankful that I got to enjoy the man in so many wonderful movies.

My Top 10 favorite John Phillip Law films
(numerical order subject to change at anytime!):

1. Diabolik (1968) (Diabolik made my list of 10 Favorite Eurotrash films that I compiled last year.)
2. Barbarella (1968)


John Phillip Law as the blind angel Pygar in Roger Vadim’s surreal and sexy sci-fi fantasy Barbarella (1968)

3. Death Rides a Horse (1967) (This film made my list of Top 10 Spaghetti Westerns)
4. The Love Machine (1971)
5. The Sergeant (1968)
6. Whisper in the Dark (1976)


Dyan Cannon and John Phillip Law having some fun
in the sex-charged Jack Haley Jr. film The Love Machine (1971)

7. The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming (1966) (I wrote about this film in-depth last year after revisiting it)
8. Skidoo (1968)
9. The Last Movie (1971)
10. The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1974)


John Phillip Law must deal with Rod Steiger’s unwanted advances in The Sergeant (1968). A fascinating film about a gay military man struggling with his emotions.

Honorable Mention:
The unforgettable ’80s horror fantasy Night Train to Terror (1985)

It’s really a shame that The Love Machine, The Sergeant and Skidoo are not available on DVD yet. Some studios will probably try to cash in on the actor’s death so we may see these films finally find there way onto DVD soon. Skidoo seems to be getting a lot of attention lately so I suspect that it will be released in the near future.

Finally… a must see video clip for The Swinging Lust World of John Phillip Law:

Recommended Links:
John Phillip Law’s Official Site
L.A. Times Obituary
Tim Lucas on meeting and working with John Phillip Law

UPDATE: The very nice Chris Casey was kind enough to leave a comment on my Myspace Blog letting me know that John Phillip Law had been suffering the effects of terminal cancer, which led to his sudden death. You can find Chris’ comments here.

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15 thoughts on “John Phillip Law 1937-2008

  1. Adam R says:

    Sad to see him go, Diabolik is one of my favorite movies. I just hope he was able to go peacefully, and not encased in molten gold.

  2. Keith says:

    OMG. I didn’t know he had passed away until I saw your blog. I’m so heartbroken now. I’m a big fan of his. I’ve seen pretty much most of those films that you named. Danger: Diabolik is one of my favorite films. I saw him not that long ago when I watched CQ. Not sure how I never saw that film until a few months back. So how did he die? R.I.P. John Phillip Law

  3. Tenebrous Kate says:

    Oh no! This is incredibly sad news. Your tribute is lovely and I’ll be linking over to this. Couldn’t say anything more than you’ve said here.

  4. Jeremy says:

    This is just terrible news…I really hate to think of him gone. I posted my own ten favorites over at Moon In The Gutter and am now kicking myself even more that I missed TCMs showing of Skidoo.

    He was amazing and will be missed…

  5. cinebeats says:

    Adam – I’m obviously with ya bout Diabolik! It’s one of my favorite films too and I never get tired of watching it. I have to disagree about death by gold though. I think being encased in gold would be a pretty nifty way to leave this world… maybe.

    Keith – I’m not sure how he died since the L.A. Times obit is vague, but I suspect that it was probably health problems associated with aging or cancer.

    Kate – I’m glad you liked it. Law will always be young and sexy in my minds eye. He may have aged but I always saw him as one of the ’60s and ’70s most gorgeous actors.

    Jeremy – Tahnks and I’m gald you shared your favorite Law films as well. Skidoo is a funny and smart film but I personally find The Love Machine and The Sergeant more compelling so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they get released on DVD before Skidoo.

  6. christian says:

    It is sad. I got to know John the past few years due to my SKIDOO screenings, and he was always ready to show up. I posted my tribute up at my blog and you can see an interview I did with him focusing on SKIDOO. Diabolik!

  7. ichabod says:

    What a wonderful write up honoring one of the most beautiful men to grace the silver screen (hold your ears, Kier Dullea!) He may have been flexing his cinematic muscle while I was still in the crib, but I still count Sinbad, Diabolik and, of course, Pygar, as some of my very favorite hunky Hollywood heroes. I hope “The Swinging Lust World of John Phillip Law” film becomes a reality (and that the finished work is amazing as that trailer).

    Rest in peace, good sir.

  8. ARBOGAST says:

    It was always a bit hard to watch Diabolik capering with Eva Kant and knowing that Marisa Mell died so young; now it will be doubly hard with the understanding that both actors are no longer with us. They were so cool, so effortlessly cool, and so into each other – they were the Billy Bob and Angelina of their day and they never broke up.

  9. Robert Monell says:

    I just found out about his passing this morning from THE MOON IN THE GUTTER. I’ve added my own tribute on my blog. My own personal favorite of his is the over the top BLOOD DELIRIUM, which I discuss there. I’m also looking for his obscure 1977 Italian thriller L’OCCHIO DIETRO LA PARETE. Thanks for the tribute, Kimberly.

  10. Javier says:

    A sad news for me ,this man has work in some of my favourites movies like Diabolik ,barbarella ,the golden voyage of sinbad.He was not considered as a star but to me he was a great actor, and looks as if he was a good and simple person who never wanted to be a part of that “hollywood star system”.
    Hasta siempre john.

  11. Terry says:

    He was one of the great offbeat male beauties like Jack Beutel in ‘The Outlaw’. And his Pygar in ‘Barbarella’ was one of the iconic images of late ’60s glamour and camp; the image of him flying with Jane Fonda in his arms shooting her enormous raygun was indelible to my twelve-year-old eyes when I saw the film in a San Francisco revival house on Market Street in the early ’80s. Pretty good actor too. Thanks for this tribute to an underrated performer.

  12. Mady Maguire says:

    John also co-starred with Brando in “Reflections in a Golden Eye.” I’ve got a great photo of us in a fan magazine taken when John was at the top of his career and I was trying to break into show biz. I never got any good movie roles, but John was amused by the exploitation films I did and always told me I was his favorite actress. We ran into each other about ten years ago at a San Diego health spa and had a week to reminisce … John was still such fun, the picture of good health, charming and as handsome as ever. Gather ye rosebuds…

  13. Mady Maguire says:

    My bad…it was John’s role in “The Sergeant” instead of “Reflections in a Golden Eye” that I was thinking of…I confused the two because both films addressed homosexuality and came out (no pun intended) only about a year apart.

  14. bmartinez says:

    I consider John Philip Law as one of the most handsome men in Hollywood—–a very memorable and attractive person and an outstanding actor.

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