Whatever Happened to John Megna?

Who the heck was John Megna, you ask? Maybe this will help.

John Megna portrayed Dill (Charles Baker Harris) in the 1962 film masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird. Dill is Jem and Scout Finch’s summer neighbor and friend, and he represents the perspective of childhood innocence throughout Harper Lee’s novel.

He would reappear on my own personal cultural radar in season one of Star Trek, in the episode “Miri,” originally broadcast on October 27, 1966 (two days after I was born). Though credited as “Little Boy,” many no doubt think of him best as being the “bonk bonk on the head” kid.

As Solanio in The Merchant of Venice in the mid-70s (pic source)

Megna (might the name have been an issue?? should he have changed it?) performed some on the stage, and according to his IMDb entry, he appeared in several more minor TV and movie roles throughout the ’70s and early ’80s. Most significantly (in my humble onion), he portrayed the “Young Hyman Roth” in The Godfather Part II (1974).

Megna as “Young Hyman Roth”

After “cameo” roles (putting it nicely) in both Smokey and the Bandit II and Cannonball Run, I guess John figured the acting game was up, and he became a high school English teacher, last teaching at James Monroe High School in North Hills, CA. On September 5, 1995, in Los Angeles, California, he died from AIDS-related complications (damn, you hate to see that) at the age of 42 (source).

Smokey and the Bandit II

This article is a “reprint” of a blog post about him back in February 2009, one of the most consistantly popular posts at my now defunct blog. What is particulary interesting about it is the number of comments left by people, many of who came into contact with Megna during his relatively short life. Here are some of the best and most touching or interesting:

Anonymous said…

John Megna was my honors English teacher in Jr. High.


Anonymous said…

John Megna was my Engligh teacher at Monroe High years ago. Not a bad guy…


Anonymous said…

John Megna was Connie Stevens 1/2 brother. He grew up in Queens, NY and attended Holy Cross High School, always followed by a “body guard”. I knew him in grammar school; he was in my younger sister’s class at Christ the King, in Springfield Gardens, NY.


Anonymous said…

He was my teacher on 1989 1990 at hollenbeck Jr high in Los Angeles beautiful person and kind


billy gorson said…

johnny was a sweet guy, my wife worked for his sister ava when she started at bob dylans studio


Anonymous said…

I, too, remember John Megna. I went to Christ the King grammar school(we were in the same class) & he’d come into class & make us laugh, he was a nice kid. I always wondered what happened to him, I saw many of the movies he was in. Very sad to see he has passed away.


bloggerdoodle said…

I studied with John at Cornell, and also knew him when I lived in LA for a few years. He was a terrific guy, and a good actor. I imagine that he was a good English teacher as well. (I believe that Megna was his real name, and not a stage name.) I’m sorry that we lost touch, and I was sad to hear of his passing so young.


Laura Gee said…

Was proud to know John and be a part of his dinner theater group on the Jersey Shore back in the 1980’s. His mother was “Columbia”, the lady symbol for Columbia Pictures and she was such a sweet and lovely lady.When she grew ill, John took care of her at home himself. It was very sad when she passed on. I knew John to be generous, kind, and a gifted director. So sorry to learn of his early death. I”ll miss him. L.G.


Serefine Hansen said…

I didn’t know that John had passed. RIP. I knew his father from the Pharmacy Parker and Megna in Brooklyn. John would sometimes be at the store with his Dad. Loved him as Dil…

Megna was his real name. I remember him as a kid sometimes playing outside the store


School finally ended and summer came…and so did Dill.

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