John Beck is an American actor. In the middle 1980's Beck became well known for playing Mark Graison in the CBS series Dallas.
John Beck was born and grew up in Chicago, Illinois, where he lived on his father's ranch. His childhood ambitions was to become a veterinarian. However, following his performance in a school play at the age of sixteen, which he had been asked to take part in as a means of overcoming profound shyness, his toutors encouraged him to try to get into drama school.
He moved to California in 1962 at the age of nineteen and made his living by appearing in television commercials. In 1963/1964, he attended Joliet Junior College and was in an acting class. A year later, he made his first television appearance as an actor in his own right in a 1965 episode of NBC's I Dream of Jeannie (entiltled 'Russian Roulette') at the age of twenty one. Beck had a regular supporting role as Ketcham in the weekly Nichols (TV series) also known as James Garner as Nichols which ran for one season on NBC from 1971 to 1972. His numerous credits as a supporting actor over the years include guest slots in such series as Death Valley Days, Diagnosis: Murder, Dan August, Baywatch (Beck was a good friend of David Hasselhoff during the 1980's), Tales from the Crypt, Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Mod Squad, Mission: Impossible, Hawaii Five-O and Matlock, among numerous others.
Already a household name in the United States by this point, Beck first came to the attention of international audiences in 1973 when he played an underground leader named Erno who leads a revolt against a fascist government in the Woody Allen sci-fi comedy Sleeper. That same year, he appeared as "John W. Poe" in the Sam Peckinpah western Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, and in 1975, he appeared opposite James Caan as "Moonpie" in the original Rollerball.
In the film The Other Side of Midnight in 1977, Beck played the male lead. A year later, Beck starred in an adaptation of H.G. Well's The Time Machine (with future Three's Company actress Priscilla Barnes). He appeared as Dorian Blake in 1985's Peyton Place: The Next Generation, a proposed revival of 1960's nighttime drama Peyton Place. Both productions aired on NBC in the United States.
After over fifteen years of being cast in supporting roles and bit-parts in various American drama and comedy series and low-budget films, he finally landed his first major role playing Sam Curtis in the early 1980's television soap opera Flamingo Road, followed by the role of Mark Graison on Dallas (his best known role) from 1983 to 1986. Although his character was killed off in 1984, he later returned after having faked his death to seek an alternative cure for a disease he was suffering from. However, in 1986, former star Patrick Duffy was asked to return to Dallas. To accommodate this, the producers made the entire 1985-1986 season of dream of Pamela Ewing (Victoria Principal). As a result, Beck's character was written out of the show as if he had never actually returned from the dead.
His other credits as a leading performer include Santa Barbara and, more recently, a recurring role in Walker: Texas Ranger.
The 1990's saw Beck turn to voice acting for the first time in his career when he provided the voice of the Punisher in three episodes of Spider-Man: The Animated Series, although to date this remains the only role as a voice actor in his career. Beck also guest-starred as the character Raymond Boone in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine extended episode "Tribunal" in 1994. A year later, he appeared in the film Black Day Blue Night. He increasingly hectic workload between the early 1970's and the mid-1990's wore Beck down to the extent that after leaving Walker: Texas Ranger series in 1997, he began to wind down his acting schedule due to "exhaustion."
Outside of acting
Beck was a proficient boxer in the 1970's and won several amateur titles, most notably the heavyweight 'Golden Gloves' of Chicago in 1973. Also a one-time champion roller-skater, he was able to perform many of his own stunts in the film Rollerball without the need for a stunt double.