John Zaremba Starred in Hill Bros. Ads : Actor Known for TV Coffee Spots Dies

John Zaremba, the debonair, white-haired bean buyer in more than 100 Hills Bros. television coffee commercials, is dead at age 77.

The journalist-turned-actor, who also played a regular role on “Dallas,” died Monday at Hoag Memorial Hospital in Newport Beach. The cause of his death was not announced.

For 14 years Zaremba was the fictitious bean buyer for Hills Bros. Most recently he had been filming a commercial for a new Hills Bros. coffee line, “Gold Label.”


One of a handful of actors whose commercials did not interfere with other employment, Zaremba was seen in such TV series as “Maverick,” “12 O’Clock High,” “Bonanza,” “Little House on the Prairie” and “Dallas,” where he portrayed the family doctor, Harlan Danver.

“I was so pleased they thought of me” for the role, Zaremba told a Times interviewer last June. “In Hollywood I’m viewed as a lawyer, judge or doctor, and that’s what I’ve concentrated on.”

Zaremba was on the staff of the Chicago Tribune and appearing with his wife at Mummer’s Theater in the evenings when they decided in 1949 to come to Hollywood so he could try to become a full-time actor.

He landed a few small roles in local theater and film before becoming FBI Agent Gerry Dressler on “I Led Three Lives,” the 1950s TV series starring Richard Carlson.

His wife, Eleanor, survives, as do three children.