John Lawless is a character in The Happiest Millionaire. He's a bouncy, upbeat immigrant butler who works for Anthony J. Drexel Biddle. He was portrayed by British singer and musician Tommy Steele.


John is a happy-go-lucky, new immigrant who is really happy to get the Job as the Biddle's butler. He believes in "Fortuosity" a termed he coined himself and gives 100% into his work. At first he doesn't want to take the job as the Biddle's Butler, 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 John proves he would do anything for them (Such as patching up the relationship between Angie and Cordy)

Role in the Film

Act 1

John Lawless 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 "Fortuosity." When he comes to the Biddle's mansion, he seem a little nervous, but calm and optimistic. When he rings the doorbell, The Biddle's cook, Mrs. Worth answers. John says he is from the Mayflower employment agency and interested in the butler job, Mrs. Worth recognizes him as an Irishman and invites him in. Mrs. Worth tells him that the Biddle's have a hard time keeping a butler, due to their eccentric ways. He was a little put off by Mr. Biddle, who came in yelling about how his alligator bit him. He orders john to get tell his boys to get the emergency kit. He then orders him to get a beefsteak for 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 Aunt Mary on his way out, who thinks he is another prize fighter. John says he actually came for the butler position so Aunt Mary instruct him on how to a be a good Butler. He goes to tell Mr. Biddle about the lady, who is in the middle of one of his Bible/Boxing classes, and Mr. Biddle immediately guesses its Aunt Mary. He tells John to tell him that nobodies home.Aunt Mary doesn't believe John as she can hear the singing from the bible class. Mrs. Biddle comes home from shopping and asks John to take her packages. When he finally gets a chance to talk to Mrs. Biddle about the butler job, she immediately hires him and tells him to prepare dinner. John then gets the feeling he is in over his head.

John is bewildered when he sees Mr. Biddle's pet alligators. Mr. Biddle tells him he got them in Florida. John Lawless properly introduces himself. When Mr. Biddle asks how good he is at boxing he says he was champion of County Tyrone in Ireland. Mr. Biddle suggest that John 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 Mrs. Biddle 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 Mr. Biddle is holding for some Marine friends. When the situation gets tense, he tries to break the tension, but fails. Mrs. Biddle then tells John to tell Mrs. Worth to get dinner ready as soon as possible. Mr. Biddle asks John to referee a boxing match with him and and one of the marine guests. When Mr. Biddle defeats the marine in combat, John decides to stay behind and clean the place up.

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

Act 2

At the start of Act 2, John is seen serving the Biddles and their guest Angie Duke, dinner. When Angie insults boxing, Mr. Biddle asks John to get him some boxing gloves to show him what boxing is all about. Angie decides to be his opponent, so Mr. Biddle asks him to be Referee. When Angie shows Mr. Biddle some of his jujitsu moves, John remarks that he wouldn't mind learning some jujitsu moves. Later on, John is seen serving guests at an extravagant party at the Biddle's house in honor of Cordy and Angie's engagement. During Mr. Biddle'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 Aunt Mary 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, Mr. Biddle says that he and John personally sent them and asks him to find out what happened to them. John finds the invitations under a pile of clothes that they collected for Chinese missions. Angie finds this "funny" and leaves in frustration. Mr. Biddle tells John to follow him.

John follows Angie to Clancy's bar were he's drinking and lonely. He goes next to Angie 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 Angie 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 Angie and slides him across the bar. This gets Angie mad and starts one big bar room brawl. John for the most point stays out of the fight and when the cops come, they ask John who started the fight.John says Angie did because he insulted mother Ireland. The cop asks John 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, Mr. Biddle yells for John to come in. Mr. Biddle wonders how John got a black eye. John says that Angie gave it to him at the jailhouse last night. John says that they'll release him when he stops pressing charges.Mr. Biddle asks him to bring the car around son they could head to the jail.

After the Biddles get home, Mrs. Biddle rings for john to get some tea and sandwiches. John asks if everything went alright. Mrs. Biddle tells them that Cordy and Angie are going to Detroit, and John is happy with the news. Soon, Mr. Biddle is told that he has been accepted into the marines and asks John to get the campaign to celebrate.John pours everyone champagne. Mr. Biddle says to John that he should have a glass, too, so he pulls one out of his coat pocket. John celebrates with the rest of the group (Let's have a Drink on it (Reprise)) and invites Mr. Biddle's bible students in to congratulate Mr. Biddle.

Songs Sung

  • Fortuosity
  • I'll Always be Irish (Sung with Anthony Biddle and Cordy Biddle)
  • Fortuosity (Reprise)
  • Let's Have a Drink on it (Sung with Angie Duke)
  • Let's Have a Drink on it (Reprise)


  • He is known for breaking the fourth wall and talks to the audience on occasion. He is eventually caught doing so by Mr. Biddle who finds it strange.
  • His catchphrase is "Fortuosity."
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