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Friday, December 10, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Actor John Archer, `The Shadow's' Voice

Seattle Times Eastside Bureau

It's John Archer's voice that's often remembered.

"His voice was something," recalled Larry Albert. "It was very deep, very resonant; it had a slight burr to it."

Albert, a Seattle actor with an encyclopedic knowledge of movies and radio shows, remembers that voice from his childhood, when he saw Mr. Archer onscreen as a movie star, and later from meeting him in the 1990s and even from two years ago, when Mr. Archer had a stroke during a local rehearsal.

Mr. Archer, 84, died of lung cancer Sunday (Dec. 5) at a Redmond retirement center.

His career began in the tiny town of Osceola, Neb., where he was born as Ralph Bowman. It extended through nearly 60 films and countless radio appearances and stage productions.

His film appearances included roles in "Guadalcanal Diary" in 1943, "White Heat" in 1949 and "Blue Hawaii" in 1961.

Leading role in film

Mr. Archer had the leading role in a 1950 science-fiction film, "Destination Moon," and later recalled how the picture won an Academy Award for special effects.

"The moonscape was fabulous," Mr. Archer said, "and we moved on wires to simulate weightlessness."

He's also remembered as being one voice of "The Shadow," in the famous radio show of that name.

He played the role of Lamont Cranston in the weekly crime drama in 1944 and 1945, uttering the famous line, "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!"

Mr. Archer was the father of actress Anne Archer, whose film credits include "Fatal Attraction" and "A Clear and Present Danger."

He studied cinematography in Southern California in the 1930s and worked in odd jobs until he was invited to an on-air audition for a show known as "Gateway to Hollywood."

Won an audition

If they won, aspiring actors and actresses got a stage name and a movie contract. Mr. Archer did win, and got both his new name and a contract with RKO pictures.

That led to his movie, radio and stage career.

Mr. Archer later withdrew from acting and became a sales representative with his brother's trucking company. He eventually moved to the Seattle area, where he became active in recreating many

old radio shows.

One of the organizations benefiting from his involvement was the Radio Enthusiasts of Puget Sound, which was started in 1990.

The group attracted just 11 listeners to its first meeting, but when it booked Mr. Archer for a February 1991 meeting, 120 people showed up and provided the core of the club's membership.

Early in his career Mr. Archer married actress Marjorie Lord, who is best remembered as the wife of Danny Thomas' character in the TV series "Make Room for Daddy."

They had two children, Gregg Archer and Anne Archer.

Mr. Archer and Lord later divorced, and he remarried. He is survived by Ann, his wife of 43 years.

They had two children, Lisa Oswald of Connecticut and Jon Archer of Issaquah.

No services are planned. ------------------------------- Peyton Whitely's phone message number is 206-464-2259. His e-mail address is pwhitely@seattletimes.com

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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