John Houston Ingle, 84, loved iced decaf coffee, tangerines, iambic pentameter, his students, his life on "General Hospital", his multitude of friends, but mostly his family. He passed away peacefully Sunday night (September 16, 2012) in his home, after a day well spent in the company of his five loving daughters, Jessica, Jennifer, Carey, Melanie and Chrissy.
He was a man of many monikers, "Mr. Ingle", JHI, Edward Quartermaine, John, Dad and Grandan; he had a profound impact on those who knew him. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma on May 7, 1928, John moved to Tujunga, California in his teens. He began to hone a lifetime of theater skills at Occidental College. It was at "Oxy" that John would meet his future wife of 57 years, accomplished singer/actress Grace-Lynne Martin (Ingle). John received a Theater degree in 1951 and a teaching credential the following year. John and Grace-Lynne married in 1954, and in six short years, they had miraculously amassed four daughters. He was a man of Herculean optimism. Raising four (soon five) daughters on a teacher's salary? "No problem!" His work ethic was of epic proportion. John began teaching at Hollywood High School during the day and Los Angeles City College by night. For 15 years, he taught afternoon classes at UCLA. In 1964, he was hired to direct the Performing Art Department at Beverly Hills High School. He would spend the next 21 years there… creating the legend that was "Mr. Ingle".
As a teacher, "Mr. Ingle" expected excellence as the norm, and then instilled in his students the confidence to meet that standard. Organizing 74 awkward and insecure teenagers into a perfectly choreographed chorus line? "No problem!" When students did as "Mr. Ingle" directed them to do, they found greatness within themselves. "Mr. Ingle" produced some of the finest stars in the business, including Albert Brooks, Jamie Lee Curtis, Barbara Hershey, Nicolas Cage, Richard Dreyfuss, Carrie Fischer, Joanna Gleason, Laraine Newman, David Schwimmer, and many more. Not surprising though, "Mr. Ingle" did not measure a student's worth by the stardom they would later achieve. He remembered the name of every student he ever taught, and saw every one of them as having unlimited potential.
After 30 year of teaching, John retired in 1985. In a seamless transition, John began his "second career". He was a working actor, doing commercials and guest appearances on television shows such as "Dallas", "Knot's Landing", "Melrose Place", "Beverly Hills 90210", "The Drew Carey show", "The Office", "Parks and Recreation", "Big Love" and many more. He had roles in feature films that included "Heathers", "Batman & Robin", "Robo Cop 2", "Death Becomes Her" and many others. His recognizable voice was heard by children all over the world as the loving triceratops, Cera's father, in the animated feature films, "The Land Before Time" (parts I-VIII).
In 1993, John landed the role of "Edward Quartermaine" on ABC's General Hospital. At 64 years of age, having to memorize a 30 page script in three days? "No problem!" John truly loved every day he spent on the set, in the company of other actors that he treasured. For 19 years, "Edward" gladly stopped and greeted every fan that ever approached him. He considered each of them a measure of his good fortune. Deep down, he was still just a simple boy from Tulsa, Oklahoma. John made his final appearance as "Edward Quartermaine" on "General Hospital" on September 11, just a week before his death. The consummate actor, it was his wish to make a final appearance on the show, despite his failing health.
In the midst of all the notoriety, it is "John" and "Dad" and "Grandan" that will be missed most. John and Grace-Lynne (who died this past February of natural causes), created a life that was anything but "normal" for their five daughters. His girls saw their father "beheaded" as Macbeth, in the Occidental Summer Theater Festival. They could flip on the television to see what terrible deeds Edward was up to. But instead, what they will remember is that as teenagers, he picked them up every time one of their cars broke down. Years later, they each would wait for his call on their drive home from work…"How was your day, Honey?" He was their pre-Internet, the answerer of all questions, profound and inane. He will be missed for his guidance as to when to separate and repot an orchid plant. "Grandan" will be missed for the way he taught each of his nine grandchildren, Hillary, Andy, Johnny, Christopher, Kelly, Nicole, David, Henry and Maggie how to cast a fishing line out into the surf on a quiet afternoon at the beach. He will be missed in immeasurable ways for his kindness, his warmth, his humor and his generosity. To "Dad" and "Grandan", a perfect day was measured by the heat coming off of the bbq and the number of grandchildren and great grandchildren (Warren, Gianna and Carson) that were splashing in his pool.
John's family would like to extend their deepest gratitude to Drs. Badie, Andersen, and Portnow, and PA Rosalind Munoz at City of Hope Hospital for the kindness and stellar care that their father received there. The family would also like to thank Deb, Elisa and Anthony from Right At Home caregivers, for their three months of loving and dedicated service. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you make donations to the San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity.
John's last words, spoken just three days before he died were, "I've had a wonderful time." A culmination to a life well lived? "You Betcha!"
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Sept. 23, 2012