Swedish-Born Film Actor, TV Director Alf Kjellin, Age 68
Alf Kjellin, a handsome Swede who came to Hollywood and “made a lot of lousy pictures” but then returned to Sweden where he learned the art of directing, has died.
A spokeswoman for the Swedish Information Service said Thursday he was 68 when he died of an apparent heart attack at a Los Angeles hospital.
The trim, silver-haired Kjellin, a divorced father of five, had suffered from arthritis for many years but was in the hospital for only a short while before he died on Tuesday, his agent, Michael Brunden, told Reuters.
Kjellin came to the world’s attention after appearing with Mai Zetterling and Stig Jarrel in the Alf Sjoberg-directed “Hets” (“Torment”) in 1944. The film, written by Ingmar Bergman in what many have seen as an act of revenge against Bergman’s teachers, deals with the evolvement of a rebellious, sensitive adolescent who finds himself competing with a sadistic Latin teacher for the same girl.
Released in the United States as “Torment” and in the United Kingdom as “Frenzy,” it was seen by David O. Selznick, who brought Kjellin to the United States to appear opposite Jennifer Jones, who was then Selznick’s wife.
He made his U.S. debut opposite her in “Madame Bovary” under the pseudonym Christopher Kent, but after a few more films that he pronounced “lousy” he returned with his old name to his native country and studied directing.
He came back to Hollywood in 1959, but this time as a television director.
He spent much of his later years directing episodic TV, including “Little House on the Prairie,” “Columbo,” “The Six Million Dollar Man” and “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.”
Occasionally, he would take a small role in a film or on TV and was seen in 1965 in “Ship of Fools” and in 1974 as a Nazi hunter in the television series “Cannon.”
In 1974, he was awarded the Royal Order of Vasa with the rank of Knight First Class by King Carl XVI of Sweden for his “most excellent contribution to the arts of the theater and film as actor, writer, director and producer.”
The Swedish press spokeswoman said he had been scheduled to appear at a screening of “Torment” April 30 at UCLA. The film is being shown in conjunction with the national New Sweden 88 celebration.