John Bromfield

John Bromfield

PALM DESERT, CA--John Bromfield, an athletic, square-jawed actor who was a solid performer for a dozen years in movies and on TV, but who ultimately turned his back on fame, died here Sept. 18 of kidney failure. He was 83. Best remembered from his starring roles in 1950s TV series "The Sheriff of Cochise" and "U.S. Marshal," MSTies will recall his memorable turn, in the movie featured in episode 801- REVENGE OF THE CREATURE, as Joe Hayes, the intrepid, barrel-chested adventurer who captures the gill-man, cheerfully vies with John Agar for the affections of Lori Nelson, and is ultimately killed by the creature as it escapes.

Born Farron Bromfield in South Bend, Ind., he was a standout athlete in college, where he met his first wife, Grace. Their marriage ended amicably before Bromfield signed up a hitch in the Navy, where he came to love the nautical life. He worked steadily as a commercial fisherman in California, but he also had an interest in acting and managed to find roles in summer stock productions in the L.A. area, where he was noticed by Hollywood talent scouts.

One of his first roles was as a detective in classic thriller "Sorry, Wrong Number." It set the template for much of his career: He was frequently cast as a hard-nosed, no-nonsense policeman, and similar authority figures.

He met his second wife, French beauty Corinne Calvet, on the set of 1949's "Rope of Sand." They were married for five years, then divorced. He then married actress and dancer Larri Thomas, whom he met on the set of 1956's "Curucu, Beast of the Amazon." They divorced in 1959, though the two remained friends.

As TV became a fixture, he found roles there too, leading to the starring role as lawman Frank Morgan, a modern day lawman keeping the peace in rural Arizona. After two years on the air, in 1958, Bromfield's character was promoted to U.S. marshal, and the series retitled to reflect the change--a move designed to broaden Morgan's beat and allow him to deal with more varied types of crime and criminals. The show featured guest stars, then early in their careers, such as Gavin MacLeod, David Janssen, Michael Landon, Stacy Keach, Charles Bronson, Jack Lord, Doug McClure, Ross Martin and Martin Milner.

But when the series ended in 1960, Bromfield walked away from the limelight. He retired from acting and spent therest of his life as a commercial fisherman. He married his fourth wife, Mary, in 1962 and they remained together until his passing.