John Kitzmiller (December 4, 1913 – February 23, 1965) was an American actor who worked in his native land, as well as Italy and the United Kingdom. Kitzmiller achieved his greatest fame as a popular and versatile actor in Europe, making an estimated forty European films.
John Kitzmiller was born in Battle Creek, Michigan, and was commissioned in the US Army reaching the rank of Captain in the United States Army Corps of Engineers">Corps of Engineers serving with the 92nd Infantry Division during its liberation of Italy in World War II. At the end of the war he chose to remain in Italy where he was discovered in 1946 by Luigi Zampa playing poker in an officers' club. This began his acting career in Italian neorealist films. He made Italy his permanent residence and ultimately starred in more than fifty European films, often portraying an angry black man fighting racism.
He played the leading role of "Jerry" in the film Senza pietà ("Without Pity"), from a screenplay by Federico Fellini, Alberto Lattuada and Tullio Pinelli. He received awards commemorating both his role as an actor and as a soldier. In 1957, he was the first black actor to win a Actor Award (Cannes Film Festival)">best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for his role in the Slovenian film Valley of Peace.
Kitzmiller died of a liver ailment at the age of 51.
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