John Beal (James Alexander Bliedung)

John Beal

Beal was born James Alexander Bliedung in Joplin, Missouri. He originally went to New York to study art but a chance to understudy in a play made him change his mind. He began acting in the 1930s, opposite Katharine Hepburn (in the 1934 RKO film The Little Minister),[1] among others; one of his notable screen appearances was as Marius Pontmercy in Les Misérables (1935). He continued appearing in films during the war years while serving in Special Services and the First Motion Picture Unit as actor and director of Army Air Forces camp shows and training films. Beal had starring roles in the film dramas Alimony (1949) and My Six Convicts (1952). In the 1950s, he also began appearing in various television shows, including the title role of mining engineer Philip Deidesheimer in a 1959 episode of the Bonanza series, “The Deidesheimer Story”. He was hired to play the role of Jim Matthews in the television soap opera Another World when the show went on the air in 1964, but was fired by creator and headwriter Irna Phillips after only one episode. He appeared in The Waltons, season 3, episode 13, “The Visitor”, first aired in December, 1974. His character was a former neighbor, Mason Beardsley, an elderly man who returned to Waltons Mountain to live with his wife who he was expecting in a few days. The Walton family, all excited helped to fix up his home only to learn that his wife had died a year earlier, and he was unable to accept this fact and continued to look for her. He continued to work in films and television, notably as Judge Vail in the supernatural soap opera Dark Shadows (for 9 episodes), and also the theater up until the 1980s. Beal died at age 87 in Santa Cruz, California, two years after suffering a stroke.


  • January, 01, 1970
  • USA
  • Joplin, Missouri


  • April, 26, 1997
  • USA
  • Santa Cruz, California

Cause of Death

  • stroke

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