John Loder (actor)

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John Loder
John Loder 1949.jpg
Loder in 1949
William John Muir Lowe

(1898-01-03)3 January 1898
London, England
Died26 December 1988(1988-12-26) (aged 90)
London, England
Years active1925–1971
  • Sophie Kabel
    (m. 1925; div. 19??)
(m. 1936;div. 1941)
    (m. 1943;div. 1947)
      Evelyn Auff Mordt
      (m. 1949;div. 1955)
        Alba Julia Lagomarsino
        (m. 1958;div. 1972)

John Loder (born William John Muir Lowe; 3 January 1898 – 26 December 1988) was established as a British film actor in Germany and Britain before migrating to the United States in 1928 for work in the new talkies. He worked in Hollywood for two periods, becoming an American citizen in 1947. After living also in Argentina, he became a naturalized British citizen in 1959.



Early life

Loder was born in 1898 in Knightsbridge, London. [1] His father was W. H. M. Lowe, a British career army officer who achieved the rank of general. Patrick Pearse, the leader of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin, Ireland, surrendered to him. [2] Both were present at the surrender. [3] His mother was Frances Broster Johnson (née de Salvo; 1857–1942), daughter of Francesco de Salvo of Palermo, Sicily and his English wife Emma Broster. [4] Frances was widowed when she married Lowe; she had been married to the late Captain Robert Harry Johnson of the 64th Foot Regiment. Loder had a younger sister, Elizabeth (born in 1900), who would later become a nun. He had also three older half-siblings from his mother's first marriage: Harry Cecil Johnson (1877–1915), Dorothy Johnson (1880–1971) and Gladys Frances McGrath (née Johnson; formerly Kingsmill; 1881-?).

Loder was educated at Eton and the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, Berkshire.

World War One

Loder followed his father into the army, being commissioned into 15th Hussars as a second lieutenant on 17 March 1915, during the First World War. [5] He was immediately sent to Gallipoli, where he served until the British withdrawal.

From 21 April until early May 1916, Loder was stationed in Ireland, serving as his father's ADC, and where they both witnessed the surrender of the leaders of the Easter Rising.

He rejoined his regiment in Rouen, France, in May 1916, and was engaged in the 1916 Battle of the Somme.

He was taken prisoner by the Germans on 21 March 1918 at the village of Roisel and transported to Le Cateau gaol and then by train to the first of several prisoner-of-war camps, Rastatt, in Baden, Germany. [6] [7]

Upon being released, Loder stayed in Germany where he was assigned military duties on behalf of the Inter-Allied Commission in Breslau and Upper Silesia.


Leaving the cavalry, Loder went into business with a German friend, Walter Becker, establishing a pickle factory in Potsdam. Later he began to develop an interest in acting. He appeared at the British Theatre Guild in Berlin and enjoyed success in productions of The Last of Mrs Cheyney , which had opened in London in 1925, and Loyalties . [8]

He began appearing in bit parts in a few German films produced at the Tempelhof Film Studios [9] including Dancing Mad (1925). He had a good part in Madame Wants No Children (1926), directed by Alexander Korda before going on to appear in numerous films in the next two years: The Last Waltz , The White Spider , The Great Unknown , all in 1927; and Alraune , Fair Game , When the Mother and the Daughter , Casanova's Legacy , The Sinner , and Adam and Eve , all released in 1928.

British films

Loder left Germany to return briefly to the United Kingdom. He had a support role in The First Born (1928), playing Madeleine Carroll's love interest. That year he sailed to the United States on the SS Île de France, bound for Hollywood to try his luck in the new medium of "talkies".

First period in Hollywood

Loder was signed by Paramount Studios. He appeared in The Case of Lena Smith (1929) directed by European Josef Von Sternberg. He made The Doctor's Secret (1929), Paramount's first talking picture, playing Ruth Chatterton's leading man. He appeared opposite Jack Holt in a Western, Sunset Pass (1929). [10] But his very English persona in these roles did not win over viewers in the United States.

He also appeared in Black Waters (1929), the first British talkie, which was made in the US by producer Herbert Wilcox, and The Unholy Night (1929) at MGM. Loder made some for Pathe: Her Private Affair (1929), The Racketeer (1929), and Rich People (1930).

Alexander Korda had also moved to Hollywood and cast Loder in Lilies of the Field (1930). This was produced by Warners Studio, who also used Loder in The Second Floor Mystery (1930), Sweethearts and Wives (1930), The Man Hunter (1931) (a Rin Tin Tin film), and One Night at Susie's (1931). He went to Fox Studio for Seas Beneath (1931) directed by John Ford. That year he also appeared in a film for Hal Roach at MGM, On the Loose (1931).

Return to Britain

Loder returned to Britain. He starred in a comedy for Herbert Wilcox, Money Means Nothing (1932), and was reunited with Korda in Wedding Rehearsal (1933).

Loder pursued Merle Oberon in The Battle (1933) and had the star role in Money for Speed (1933) opposite Ida Lupino. He was in You Made Me Love You (1933), and that year had a small part in Korda's hugely successful The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), playing the love interest of Elsa Lanchester's Anne of Cleeves.

Loder had lead roles in low-budget, quota quickies such as Paris Plane (1933) and Rolling in Money (1934) as well as the romantic male lead in the Gracie Fields vehicle, Love, Life and Laughter (1934).

Loder specialised in leading man parts in Warn London (1934); Java Head (1934) with Anna May Wong; Sing As We Go (1934) with Fields again, and a big hit; My Song Goes Round the World (1934); [11] Lorna Doone (1934), as John Ridd; and 18 Minutes (1935).

He was top billed in The Silent Passenger (1935) and It Happened in Paris (1935) and supported in the Mozart biopic, Whom the Gods Love (1936). Loder was reunited with Gracie Fields in Queen of Hearts (1936) and starred in an IRA drama, Ourselves Alone (1936). He had a part in Guilty Melody (1936) and supported Boris Karloff in The Man Who Changed His Mind (1936).

Loder played the heroic investigator in Alfred Hitchcock's Sabotage (1936), replacing Robert Donat [12] before taking on the role of Sir Henry Curtis, the male romantic interest in the 1937 original film version of King Solomon's Mines , romancing Anna Lee. [13] [14]

He romanced Margaret Lockwood in Doctor Syn (1937), supporting George Arliss. He and Lee were reunited in Non-Stop New York (1937), and he took on Erich von Stroheim in Under Secret Orders (1937).

Loder and Lockwood romanced again in support of a crusty old actor in Owd Bob (1938), before he went to France to appear in Katia (1938) with Danielle Darrieux, in which he played Alexander II of Russia.

He returned to Britain and starred in thrillers Anything to Declare? (1939), The Silent Battle (1939) with Rex Harrison, and Murder Will Out (1939). He had the title role in Meet Maxwell Archer (1940).

Return to Hollywood

After Britain entered the Second World War, Loder returned to the United States. He coasted into a career in B movie roles, usually playing upper-crust characters. He also played one role onstage on Broadway, in 1947's For Love or Money opposite June Lockhart.

He was in Adventure in Diamonds (1940) and Diamond Frontier (1940). At 20th Century Fox he made Tin Pan Alley (1940), Scotland Yard (1941), and How Green Was My Valley (1941), in which he played a brother of Roddy McDowall's character.

He also worked in such war films as Confirm or Deny (1941), One Night in Lisbon (1941), and Eagle Squadron (1941).

Warner Bros.

In Now, Voyager (1942), he played a wealthy widower engaged to Bette Davis's character. That was made by Warners who used Loder in Gentleman Jim (1942) as Errol Flynn's love rival. Warners gave him a then-rare lead in a B, The Gorilla Man (1943), The Mysterious Doctor (1943), Murder on the Waterfront (1943), and Adventure in Iraq (1943).

He was back with Davis in Old Acquaintance (1943) and supported Humphrey Bogart in Passage to Marseille (1944).

In the early 1940s, Loder was host of Silver Theater , a dramatic anthology on CBS radio. [15] He also starred in the programme's 11 June 1944 episode. [16]


Loder freelanced as an actor. He had support roles in The Hairy Ape (1944), and Abroad with Two Yanks (1944), then had a lead part in some B films: The Brighton Strangler (1945), Jealousy (1945), A Game of Death (1945) (a remake of The Most Dangerous Game ), and The Wife of Monte Cristo (1946).

He supported in an A film, One More Tomorrow (1946) and appeared opposite then-wife Hedy Lamarr in Dishonored Lady (1947). Loder then appeared in a minor Broadway hit in For Love or Money (1947–48). Around this time he began to focus increasingly on business as opposed to acting. [17]

Later career

Loder's later film appearances included British films The Story of Esther Costello (1957), Small Hotel (1957), and Gideon's Day (1958). His last film was The Firechasers (1971).

Personal life, marriages and children

He was unmarried when he fathered his first son. [18] The boy followed his father to Eton and served in the Grenadier Guards. He later became a theatrical and literary agent, and was married three times. His last marriage was to British actress Hilary Tindall (1938–1992). She played Ann Hammond in the 1970s BBC TV series The Brothers . [19]

In 1932 Loder was named in the divorce proceedings of Wanda Holden and Charles Baillie-Hamilton, a former MP. [20]

Loder was married five times; two of his wives were actresses.

Hedy Lamarr and Loder in 1946 Hedy Lamarr and John Loder.jpg
Hedy Lamarr and Loder in 1946

Loder's other wives were Sophie Kabel, Evelyn Auff Mordt, and finally, in 1958, the heiress Alba Julia Lagomarsino of Argentina. After their marriage, he lived on her 25,000-acre cattle ranch and spent much time at the Jockey Club in Buenos Aires. [23]

After they divorced in 1972, Loder returned to London. [24] He resided for some years in a house opposite Harrods department store.

In 1947, Loder had become an American citizen. In 1959, he became a naturalised citizen of the United Kingdom. Given his varied residencies, he had been considered of "uncertain nationality" by that time. [25]

Later years

He published his autobiography, Hollywood Hussar, in 1977. Loder's general health deteriorated in his eighties, and he was admitted in 1982 to the Distressed Gentlefolks Aid Association's Nursing Home in Vicarage Gate, Kensington. He went weekly by taxi to his London club, 'Bucks', in Mayfair, for luncheon. He died in London, aged 90, in 1988. [26]

Loder is the focus of the play The Private View: Fairytales of Ireland 1916–2016, written by Trevor White and directed by Gerard Stembridge. The play was staged by The Little Museum of Dublin as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival in October 2015, and was performed at the American Irish Historical Society in November of the same year. [27]


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  1. Hollywood Hussar by John Loder, London, 1977, p. 9, ISBN   0-7030-0121-3
  2. "Hedy Lamarr and the Easter Rising". Irish Theatre Institute. 17 August 2006. Archived from the original on 15 September 2007. Retrieved 30 March 2009.
  3. BBC, 1916 Easter Rising Gallery
  4. "Frances Broster Lowe". geni_family_tree. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  5. London Gazette. No. 29102. 16 March 1915. p. 2632.{{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. Hollywood Hussar pps:30 & 41-52.
  7. "JOHN LODER'S PAST FITS HIM FOR FILM ROLE". The Advocate (Tasmania) . Tasmania, Australia. 30 January 1948. p. 6. Retrieved 17 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  8. "BRITISH ACTOR". The Daily News . Vol. XLIX, no. 17, 111. Western Australia. 7 March 1930. p. 10 (HOME FINAL EDITION). Retrieved 17 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  9. Hollywood Hussar pps:70-74.
  10. "JOHN LODER SETS UP NOVEL RECORD". Sunday Times (Perth) . No. 2247. Western Australia. 2 March 1941. p. 9. Retrieved 17 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  11. "JOHN LODER'S CHREEB". The Daily News . Vol. LV, no. 18, 847. Western Australia. 15 August 1935. p. 10 (CITY FINAL). Retrieved 17 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  12. "Charlie Chaplin Writes Scenario For Paulette Goddard: John Loder Substitutes For Robert Donat". Chronicle . Vol. LXXIX, no. 4, 163. South Australia. 27 August 1936. p. 51. Retrieved 17 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  13. Hollywood Hussar, p. 118.
  14. "'Bathrobe Biography' of John Loder". The Advocate (Tasmania) . Tasmania, Australia. 23 October 1937. p. 6. Retrieved 17 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  15. Dunning, John (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio (Revised ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. pp.  615-616. ISBN   978-0-19-507678-3 . Retrieved 13 October 2019. Silver Theater, Hollywood drama.
  16. "Sunday Highlights". The Lincoln Star. 11 June 1944. p. 32. Retrieved 31 March 2015 via Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  17. "John Loder, Businessman". The Newcastle Sun . No. 8904. New South Wales, Australia. 13 July 1946. p. 5. Retrieved 17 September 2017 via National Library of Australia.
  18. "Times" Death Notices, 3 April 2002
  19. Genealogists' Magazine, Sept 2002
  20. "Divorce for Former M.P. – 20 Nov 1932, Sun • Page 18". The Observer: 18. 1932. Retrieved 23 January 2018.
  21. "Hedy Lamarr Adopts Baby Boy" (PDF). Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  22. "HEDY NEWS: LAMARR'S SON NOT ADOPTED". New York Post. 5 February 2001. Retrieved 9 June 2018.
  23. "Family tree of John LOWE Loder". Geneanet. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  24. Genealogists' Magazine, vol. 27, no. 7, Society of Genealogists, London, 2002, pps:332-326, "Another Englishman Abroad – John Loder and Hedy Lamarr" by Charles Kidd, editor of Debrett's Peerage & Baronetage .
  25. London Gazette. No. 41637. 17 February 1959. p. 1172.{{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  26. The Daily Telegraph, Obituary: John Loder, 29 December 1988
  27. "The Private View in New York". The Little Museum of Dublin. Retrieved 14 June 2021.