He was born on December 4th 1913 in Battle Creek, Michigan, USA, one of 2 sons born to John B. and Mary E. Kitzmiller. 
In school he studied chemistry and at the University of Michigan he earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1937. World War II interrupted his studies and, as an army Captain, John was stationed in Italy in 1943. When the war finished John chose to make Italy his home.
Legend has it that in 1946, while playing poker, John was spotted by director Luigi Zampa and producer Carlo Ponti, who cast him in a showy role in the neorealist film Vivere in pace (1947), which was an international success. He followed this with a series of substantial supporting roles in Italian and French productions and in 1956 he won the best actor award at Cannes for his performance in the Yugoslav production Dolina miru.
John continued to work steadily, but mostly in smaller supporting roles, his most notable appearance being in the international hit which launched the James Bond franchise, Dr. No (1962).
In December of 1964 he married Yugoslavian woman Dusia Bejic in Belgrade. Two months later, on February 23rd 1965, John died in Rome, aged 51. His sudden death was the result of cirrhosis of the liver, caused by apparent long-term alcoholism.
To say John was a trail blazer is an understatement. He managed to build a career in large character parts when there was no precedent for black actors playing such roles in European cinema, and it would be some years before any black American actors rose to such heights. He also paved the way for the many black American actors and actresses who would arrive in Italy in the mid-late 1950's.
- Birthplace: Battle Creek, Michigan (U.S.A.). Resident in Rome.
- Height: 1,82 m.
- Weight: 94 kg.
- Instruction: Chemical engineer.
- Acting school: Academy of Dramatic Art.
- Languages: French, English, German, Italian.
- Prose theatre.
- Awarded as best male performer at the Cannes Film Festival for the film Dolina miru (La valle della pace) (1956).
- Abode: Rome, at Albergo Bologna (1949); Rome, via Monza, 32 (1956-'61).
- Tombolo, paradiso nero .... Jack (credited)
- Vivere in pace .... Joe (credited as "Jonny Kitzmiller")
- Senza pietà .... Jerry Jackson (credited)
- Monastero di Santa Chiara .... The Negro (credited)
- Ti ritroverò .... The Military Policeman (credited - role unconfirmed)
- La forza del destino .... The Dark Squire (credited)
- Luci del varietà .... Johnny (credited)
- A fil di spada .... Blasco (credited as "John Kitzimiller")
- Delitto al luna park …. role unknown (poster credit)
- Les loups chassent la nuit .... Miguel's black servant (credited as "Kitzmiller")
- Massacre en dentelles .... Rocky Saddler (credited)
- Ultimo perdono .... Ballerino (poster credit - role unconfirmed)
- Canto per te .... Angenore (credited)
- Frine, cortigiana d'Oriente .... Nabus (credited)
- Legione straniera .... Djalmar (credited)
- Acque amare .... Mezzanotte (poster credit - role unconfirmed)
- Desiderio 'e sole .... Simone (credited)
- Il grande addio .... John (poster credit - role unconfirmed)
- La peccatrice dell'isola .... Abul (poster credit - role unconfirmed)
- Lacrime d'amore …. role unknown (poster credit)
- Non vogliamo morire .... John (poster credit - role unconfirmed)
- Quai des blondes .... Michel (poster credit - role unconfirmed)
- Terra straniera …. role unknown (poster credit)
- Il nostro campione .... Raimondo (poster credit - role unconfirmed)
- Dolina miru .... Sergeant Jim (credited)
- A vent'anni è sempre festa .... John Miller (poster credit - role unconfirmed)
- I misteri di Parigi .... Ripper (credited)
- Afrodite, dea dell'amore .... Tomoro (credited)
- The Naked Earth .... John Miller (poster credit - role unconfirmed)
- Due selvaggi a corte .... Kato (credited)
- Pensione Edelweiss .... Bougron (credited)
- Vite perdute .... Luca (credited)
- Giallo club - Invito al poliziesco (TV series) S. 3, ep. 1: "Ultimo avviso" .... Peter (credited)
- Gli avventurieri dei tropici .... Salvador (poster credit - role unconfirmed)
- I pirati della costa .... Rock (credited)
- Chiamami bugiardo (TV movie) .... Dr. Bowker (credited as "Johnny Kitzmiller")
- Giallo club - Invito al poliziesco (TV series) S. 4, ep. 3: "Partita a tre" .... Joke (credited)
- La corona di fuoco .... Akim (poster credit - role unconfirmed)
- La rivolta dei mercenari .... Tago (credited)
- Totòtruffa '62 .... Ambassador of Katonga (credited)
- Dr. No .... Quarrel (credited)
- El hijo del capitán Blood .... Moses (credited)
- Il sangue e la sfida …. role unknown (poster credit)
- La tigre dei sette mari .... Serpente (credited)
- Marte, dio della guerra .... Afros (credited)
- Una tragedia americana (TV mini-series) Ep. 2 .... Pianist (credited)
- Peppino al balcone (TV series) Ep. 2: "Salvate mio figlio" .... Otello (credited)
- Una volta nella vita (TV movie) .... Train attendant (credited)
- Acquistate il Paparino (TV movie) .... The black minister (credited)
- Biblioteca di Studio Uno (TV series) S. 1, ep. 5: "La storia di Rossella O'Hara" .... Sam (credited)
- Der Fluch der grünen Augen .... John (credited)
- Il ribelle di Castelmonte .... Ali (credited)
- Onkel Toms Hütte .... Uncle Tom (credited)
- Le inchieste del commissario Maigret (TV series) Ep.: "Una vita in gioco Part 1" …. (credited as "A client of Citanguette", but not found)
- Il corsaro della tortue (1960 TV movie) IMDb
- Furia Selvaggia a Maracaibo (1964) IMDb
|1. Dante Lazzaro. Cineguida 1949 (listed as "H. John Kitzmiller").|
2. Dante Lazzaro. Cineguida 1956.
3. Dante Lazzaro. Cineguida 1961.
4. John's biographical information comes from his profile on the Blackpast.org website, which I believe to be a reliable source.
5. John's profile on Matt Blake's Wild Eye website repeats much of the info from the site above