John Saxon, ‘Nightmare on Elm Street,’ ‘Enter the Dragon’ actor, dead at 83

John Saxon, ‘Nightmare on Elm Street,’ ‘Enter the Dragon’ actor, dead at 83
Actor John Saxon, whose film credits included "Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Enter the Dragon," died Saturday. He was 83. (Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Actor John Saxon, who appeared in three “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies and played alongside Bruce Lee in “Enter the Dragon,” died Saturday. He was 83.

Saxon died of pneumonia in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, his wife, Gloria Martel, told The Hollywood Reporter.

Saxon’s career spanned several decades, beginning in 1956 when he appeared as a disturbed high school football star who taunted Esther Williams in “The Unguarded Moment.”

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Saxon appeared as a Mexican bandit alongside Marlon Brandon in the 1966 film “The Appaloosa,” a role that earned him a Golden Globe, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

He also appeared on television, playing the role of surgeon Theodore Stuart on NBC’s “The New Doctors” segment of “The Bold Ones.” Saxon also appeared on “Dynasty” as powerful Middle East tycoon Rashid Ahmed.

In 1973′s “Enter the Dragon,” Saxon played Roper, a gambler who participates in a martial arts tournament. The film marked the first mainstream movie appearance of Lee, who died in July 1973 at the age of 32.

Despite his lack of martial arts skills, Saxon told the Los Angeles Times in 2012 that Lee “took me seriously. I would tell him I would rather do it this way, and he’d say, ‘OK, try it that way.‘”

Saxon also played Lt. Donald Thompson in the first and third “Nightmare on Elm Street” movies, and returned to play a version of himself in the 1994 film, “New Nightmare,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

An Italian-American from Brooklyn, Saxon was born Carmine Orrico on Aug. 5, 1936. He was the eldest of three children of an Italian immigrant house painter, the newspaper reported.

“Brooklyn was a tough place to grow up in, but it taught you survival, and if you were ambitious, it taught you to want better things,” Saxon once said.

Saxon also appeared in “Evil Eye,” “The Cardinal,” “Blood Beast From Outer Space,” “The Swiss Conspiracy,” “Wrong Is Right,” “Fever Pitch,” “Beverly Hills Cop III” and “God’s Ears.”

John Saxon, left, appeared with Bruce Lee in the 1973 film, "Enter the Dragon."
John Saxon, left, appeared with Bruce Lee in the 1973 film, "Enter the Dragon." (Stanley Bielecki Movie Collection/Getty Images)