John Dierkes was born on February 10th 1905 in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. Later he attended Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, United States and after graduation worked as an economist for the United States Department of State. Following the outbreak of the Second World War, Dierkes joined the Red Cross and served in Britain. During this time he befriended director John Huston who recommended that Dierkes try Hollywood after the war.
When he returned to the United States, Dierkes ignored Huston’s advice and instead went to work for the U.S. Treasury Department who coincidentally sent him to Hollywood to function as technical advisor for the film To the Ends of the Earth (1948). This led to Orson Welles casting Dierkes as Ross in his version of Macbeth in the same year.
Standing at 6ft 6ins, Dierkes made an immediate impression on the big screen and soon found himself in The Thing from Another World, Three Husbands, Stars Over Hollywood, The Red Badge of Courage, High Vermilion, Racket Squad, The Sellout, Les Miserables, and A Perilous Journey.
In 1953, Dierkes appeared in Shane as Morgan Ryker, who alongside his ‘brother’ Rufus (Emile Meyer) and Jack Wilson (Jack Palance) play the villains out to get Shane (played by Alan Ladd). This was followed up by roles in Death Valley Days, The Vanquished, Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Moonlighter, Gun Fury, The Naked Jungle, Prince Valiant, Topper, The Desperado, Adventures of the Falcon, The Raid, Hell’s Outpost, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, Not as a Stranger, Climax!, Crossroads, Duel at Apache Wells, Schlitz Playhouse, Daughter of Dr. Jekyll, Death in Small Doses, Casey Jones, The Left Handed Gun, The Restless Gun, Wanted: Dead or Alive, The Rifleman, Wagon Train, Touch of Evil, and Bonanza.
In 1960, Dierkes portrays a Tennessean named Jocko in The Alamo. Jocko is torn between leaving before the attack to care for his blind wife, or staying to support the Texans’ cause. Understanding that if Jocko stays to fight she will likely be widowed, Jocko’s wife coaxes him to stay and defend the fort, despite her disability.
Dierkes remained busy through the 1960’s and could be seen in The Aquanauts, One-Eyed Jacks, Peter Gunn, The Comancheros, X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes, The Haunted Palace, Johnny Cool, Rawhide, The Omega Man, Buck and the Preacher, and Rage. His final role was in Gunsmoke in 1973.
Sadly, Dierkes died on January 8th 1975 from emphesyma in Los Angeles, California.
1 thought on “John Dierkes”
JD was very good in everything he ever appeared in that I ever saw. I always was surprised he didn’t become a bigger performer than he did in his career.
He auditioned for the part of Lurch for the TV show The Addams Family.