Victor Kilian

Victor Kilian
Born Victor Arthur Kilian
(1891-03-06)March 6, 1891
Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.
Died March 11, 1979(1979-03-11) (aged 88)
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death Homicide
Resting place Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery
Occupation Actor
Years active 1909—1979
Spouse(s) Daisy Johnson (1915-1961) (her death)

Victor Arthur Kilian (March 6, 1891 – March 11, 1979) was an American actor who was blacklisted by the Hollywood movie studio bosses in the 1950s.

Early life and career

Born in Jersey City, New Jersey, Victor Kilian began his career in entertainment at the age of eighteen by joining a vaudeville company. In the mid-1920s he began to perform in Broadway plays and by the end of the decade had made his debut in motion pictures. For the next two decades he made a good living as a character actor in secondary or minor roles in films such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1938). He was frequently cast as a villain. While staging a fight scene with John Wayne for a 1942 film, Kilian suffered a serious injury that resulted in the loss of one eye.

He was an early resident of Free Acres, a social experimental community developed by Bolton Hall in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey.[1]

During the McCarthyism of the 1950s, Victor Kilian was blacklisted for his political beliefs but because the Actors' Equity Association refused to go along with the ban, Kilian was able to earn a living by returning to perform on stage. After Hollywood's blacklisting ended, he began doing guest roles on television series during the 1970s. He is best known for his role as Grandpa Larkin (aka The Fernwood Flasher) in the television soap opera spoof Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman (1976). Kilian's wife, Daisy Johnson, to whom he had been married for 46 years, died in 1961.

In the spring of 1979, Kilian appeared in an episode of TV’s All in the Family, "The Return of Stephanie's Father", portraying a desk clerk in a seedy hotel. In the same episode fellow veteran Hollywood character actor Charles Wagenheim (1896-1979) appeared as a ‘bum’ in the hotel’s lobby. Just weeks before the episode aired, on March 6, 1979 (Kilian’s birthday), the 83 year-old Wagenheim was bludgeoned to death in his Hollywood apartment after he was surprised coming home from grocery shopping during an act of robbery. Five days later, on March 11, 1979, Victor Kilian, who lived alone in Hollywood just blocks from Wagenheim, was also beaten to death by burglars in his apartment.

On March 20, 1979, All in the Family posthumously aired the episode "The Return of Stephanie's Father", with Wagenheim’s and Kilian’s last screen performances. Victor Kilian's cremated remains were scattered in the rose garden at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Selected filmography


  1. Buchan, Perdita. "Utopia, NJ", New Jersey Monthly, February 7, 2008. Accessed February 27, 2011. "Free Acres had some famous residents in those heady early days: actors James Cagney and Jersey City–born Victor Kilian, writers Thorne Smith (Topper) and MacKinlay Kantor (Andersonville), and anarchist Harry Kelly, who helped found the Ferrer Modern School, centerpiece of the anarchist colony at Stelton in present-day Piscataway."

External links

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