John Lawless is a bouncy, upbeat immigrant butler who works for eccentric millionaire Anthony Biddle in the 1967 film The Happiest Millionaire.


John is a happy-go-lucky, new immigrant who is really happy to get the job as the Biddles' butler. He believes in "Fortuosity" a termed he coined himself and gives 100% into his work. At first he doesn't want to take it, but he soon gets used to their quirky ways. He also acts as the partial narrator for the film and talks to the audience on occasion.

Despite loving his adopted country, America, He still has great pride for his Irish roots and says he will always be an Irish man.

The Biddles come to love and respect John, and he proves he would do anything for them (such as patching up the relationship between Angie and Cordy)

Role in the film

Act 1

John arrives fresh in America from Ireland, happy as a clam, and already with a new job as a butler for a wealthy man. He sings about how happy and how fortunate he is now (Fortuosity). When he comes to the Biddles' mansion, he seem a little nervous, but calm and optimistic. When he rings the doorbell, the cook, Mrs. Worth, answers. He says he is from the Mayflower employment agency and interested in the job. She recognizes him as an Irishman and invites him in. She tells him that the Biddles have a hard time keeping a butler, due to their eccentric ways. He was a little put off by Anthony, who came in yelling about how his alligator bit him. He orders john to get tell his sons, Tony and Liv, to get the emergency kit. He then orders him to get a beefsteak for his daughter Cordy's knocked out boyfriend. John wonders if the Biddle household is always this hectic but Mrs. Worth seems to think it is normal. He says the job isn't worth it and goes to quit. He stumbles onto a lady on his way out, who thinks he is another prize fighter. He says he actually came for the butler position so she instructs him on how to a be a good one. He goes to tell Anthony about her, who is in the middle of one of his Bible/boxing classes, and he immediately guesses it's Aunt Mary. He tells John to tell her that nobody is home. She doesn't believe him as she can hear the singing from the Bible class. Anthony's wife, Cordelia, comes home from shopping and asks John to take her packages. When he finally gets a chance to talk to her about the job, she immediately hires him and tells him to prepare dinner. He then gets the feeling he is in over his head.

John is bewildered when he sees Anthony 12 pet alligators. Anthony tells him he got them in Florida. John properly introduces himself. When Anthony asks how good he is at boxing he says he was champion of County Tyrone, Ireland. Anthony suggest that he apply for citizenship. John says he will eventually. He then sings about how he loves his new adopted country but he will always remain Irish at heart (I'll Always Be Irish). During the song Cordelia gets a call from the Mayflower employment agency. She says that John will definitely suit their needs.

John is later seen at a party that Anthony is holding for some Marine friends. When the situation gets tense, he tries to break the tension, but fails. Cordelia then tells him to tell Mrs. Worth to get dinner ready as soon as possible. Anthony asks him to referee a boxing match with him and and one of the Marine friends. When he defeats the friend in combat, John decides to stay behind and clean the place up.

Some time later, John helps Anthony thaw his alligators after a maid accidentally let the chilly air freeze them in their pools. When Cordy arrives, she warmly greets John and tells him about her engagement. Later after Anthony bitterly goes to bed, John remarks that he lost Cordy and his alligators in the same night. The next morning he happily tells John that his alligators are alive and kicking. John is aware of this as he is tugging George back to the conservatory. He the helps Anthony round them up. When Anthony forgives Cordy, he says that regaining her and his alligators is a little bit of what he calls "Fortuosity" He then rounds his alligators up while he sings a reprise of Fortuosity.

Act 2

At the start of Act 2, John is seen serving the Biddles and Cordy's fiancé, Angie Duke, dinner. When Angie insults boxing, Anthony asks John to get him some boxing gloves to show him what boxing is all about. He decides to be his opponent, so Anthony asks him to be referee. When Angie shows Anthony some of his jujitsu moves, John remarks that he wouldn't mind learning some. Later on, John is seen serving guests at an extravagant party at the Biddles' mansion in honor of Cordy and Angie's engagement. During Anthony's operatic number, Mrs. Duke asks John if he does this often, which he responds that he does so occasionally. When Aunt Mary arrives, he greets her in the living room and fetches her some refreshments. He serves her and Mrs. Duke while they are arguing, and tries to prevent them from fighting. When Mrs. Duke says that her family hasn't received wedding invitations, Anthony says that he and John personally sent them and asks him to find out what happened to them. He finds them under a pile of clothes that they collected for Chinese missions. Angie finds this "funny" and leaves in frustration. Anthony tells John to follow him.

John follows Angie to Clancy's Bar were he's drinking and lonely. He goes next to him and orders an Irish stout. Angie figures that John followed him there and wants him to leave him alone. Angie tells him that he's tired of people running his life, and says he finally has to be a man about this. John agrees and decides to have a drink on it. (Let's Have a Drink on It). Throughout the song, John tries to get Angie drunk while he comes up with ideas with what he wants to do with his life. John talks him out of most of his choices and realizes he's getting nowhere. He later spills some beer on a thug, who immediately grabs him and slides him across the bar. This gets him mad and starts a big brawl. John for the most point stays out of it and when the cops come, they ask him who started it. He says Angie did because he insulted Ireland. The cop asks him to come along to tell the story to the chief. When the cops drag Angie out, John assures him that he's looking out for him.

The next morning when Mrs. Duke is looking for Angie, Anthony yells for John to come in. Mr. He wonders how John got a black eye. John says that Angie gave it to him at the jailhouse the night before and that they'll release him when he stops pressing charges. Anthony asks him to bring the car around son they could head to the jail.

After the Biddles get home, Cordelia rings for John to get some tea and sandwiches. He asks if everything went all right. She tells them that Cordy and Angie are going to Detroit, and he is happy with the news. Soon, Anthony is told that he has been accepted into the Marines and asks John to get the campaign to celebrate. He pours glasses of champagne for everyone. Anthony tells him that he should have one too, so he pulls one out of his coat pocket. He celebrates with the rest of the group (Let's Have a Drink on It (Reprise)) and invites Anthony's Bible students in to congratulate him.


  • He is known for breaking the fourth wall and talks to the audience on occasion. He is eventually caught doing so by Anthony who finds it strange.
  • His catchphrase is "Fortuosity."
v - e - d
Happiest Millionaire logo
The Happiest MillionaireSoundtrack
Anthony Biddle • Cordelia Biddle • Aunt Mary • John Lawless • Mrs. Duke • Mrs. Worth • Cordy Biddle • Angie Duke • Tony Biddle • Liv Biddle
FortuosityWhat's Wrong With That?Watch Your FootworkValentine CandyStrengthen the DwellingI'll Always Be IrishBye-Yum Pum PumAre We Dancing?I Believe in This CountryDetroitWhen a Man Has a DaughterThere Are ThoseLet's Have a Drink on ItIt Won't Be Long 'til ChristmasOff Rittenhouse Square
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