John Frederick, veteran actor dies at age 96
Veteran actor John Frederick, a Norwalk, Iowa native who worked in theater, television and films for decades, has died in California at the age of 96.
His longtime friend Fern Stanley Evans of San Francisco, formerly of Palm Springs, telephoned Sunday, Nov. 11, to say he had died earlier in the day at a Palm Springs-area hospital after a two-month illness. Frederick had lived in the Desert Hot Springs area for many years, and until recently had been in good health and living in his own home. He was a familiar figure at Palm Springs social functions and had a star on that city’s Walk of Fame.
Frederick, whose real name was Frederick Stiffler, was born on his family’s farm on July 4, 1916, and fell in love with movies when he saw his first one at the Des Moines Orpheum. At 16, he raised a calf and sold it at the Iowa State Fair to earn money for his first trip to Hollywood.
He later attended Drake University and the University of Iowa before a short teaching career at Frederika. Then he gave in to the lure of show business, honing his skills on the New York stage. At 6-foot-2 and with an athletic physique and deep voice, he found that roles came easily.
He appeared in such films as “The Ten Commandments” (1956), “Cleopatra” (1963), “The Shoes of the Fisherman” (1968), and on television series such as Superman, Bonanza, Wells Fargo, Death Valley Days, and Twilight Zone. But friends enrich our lives more than anything, and his included Mae West, Elizabeth Taylor, Ginger Rogers, and Ronald Reagan.
At one time in his career Frederick went by the name John Merrick because he was being confused with a Hollywood milliner named John Frederic.
Frederick documented his life story in a memoir, “Name Droppings on Your Head,” which was published in 1999.
FREDERICK, John (aka John Merrick) (Frederick Stiffler, Jr.)
Born: 7/4/1916, Norwalk, Iowa, U.S.A.
Died: 11/11/2012, Palm Springs, California, U.S.A.
John Frederick’s westerns – actor:
Stories of the Century “The Younger Brothers” - 1954
Yaqui Drums - 1956 (Hostler) [as John Merrick]
Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok (TV) - 1956 (Buck) [as John Merrick]
Frontier (TV) – 1956 (Crane) [as John Merrick]
The Restless Gun (TV) - 1957
Ride Out for Revenge – 1957 (Lieutenant) [as John Merrick]
Wagon Train (TV) – 1957, 1958 (Sergeant, Frank Quinn) [as John Merrick]
Tales of Wells Fargo (TV) – 1957, 1958 (Webb McCloy, Tenny Jackson) [as John Merrick]
Tales of the Texas Rangers (TV) – 1957 (Red Adams) [as John Merrick]
Playhouse 90 “Four Women in Black” (TV) (Tom Graham) [as John Merrick]
Colt .45 (TV) – 1958 (Pike) [as John Merrick]
Cheyenne (TV) - 1958 (Nub Tanner) [as John Merrick]
Ambush at Cimarron Pass - 1958 (Pvt. Nathan) [as John Merrick]
Seven Guns to Mesa – 1958 (Brown)
Tombstone Territory (TV) - 1958 (henchman) [as John Merrick]
The Toughest Gun in Tombstone – 1958 (Ranger Mac Burgess) [as John Merrick]
Zane Grey Theater (TV) – 1959 (Barney Wilkes) [as John Merrick]
Death Valley Days (TV) – 1959 (John Warner) [as John Merrick]
Bonanza (TV) – 1959, 1960, 1963, 1965 (man, Andy Logan, Joe Payne, Charlie Caruthers) [as John Merrick]
13 Fighting Men – 1960 (Lee) [as John Merrick]
Whispering Smith (TV) – 1961 (Second Barfly) [as John Merrick]
Once Upon a Time in the West – 1968 (Jim)
Duck You Sucker - 1971 (American)
Blindman – 1971 (sheriff)