Saturday, May 30, 2020

Anthony James Passes On

Character Anthony James died on May 26 2020 at the age of 77. The cause was cancer.

Anthony James was born James Anthony on July 22 1937 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. His parents were Greek immigrants. His father, who owned and operated a restaurant called The Mayflower, died when he was only 8 years old. It was when he was 18 years old that he and his mother moved to Los Angeles. In order to pay for acting lessons he cleaned restrooms. He reversed his name to create his stage name, Anthony James.

Anthony James made his debut with one line in an episode of the short lived series T.H.E. Cat in 1966. He made his film debut as Frank in In the Heat of the Night (1967). In the Sixties he guest starred several times on Gunsmoke, and in four episodes he played the hillbilly Elbert Moses. He also guest starred on the shows The High Chaparral, Cimarron Strip, The Big Valley, Hawaii Five-O, and Bonanza. He appeared in the movies P.J. (1968), Sam Whiskey (1969), and tick...tick...tick (1970).

In the Seventies Anthony James guest starred on such shows as Ironside, The Mod Squad, Search, The Streets of San Francisco, The Rookies, Police Story, S.W.A.T., Charlie's Angels, Starsky and Hutch, Man from Atlantis, Vega$, Quincy M.E., and Tenspeed and Brownshoe. He appeared in the movies Vanishing Point (1971), Culpepper Cattle Co. (1972), High Plains Drifter (1973), The Teacher (1974), Hearts of the West (1975), Burnt Offerings (1976), Return from Witch Mountain (1978), Texas Detour (1978), The Fifth Floor (1978), and Ravagers (1979).  He appeared in the mini-series Rich Man Poor Man.

In the Eighties Anthony James guest starred on such shows as Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Matt Houston, Knight Rider, V, Riptide, Hunter, The A-Team, The Fall Guy, Sledge Hammer, Simon & Simon, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Beauty and the Beast. He appeared in the movies Soggy Bottom, U.S.A. (1981), Wacko (1982), Blue Thunder (1983), Nightmares (1983), World Gone Wild (1987), and Mortuary Academy (1988).

In the Nineties he guest starred on the TV shows Father Dowling Mysteries and Married with Children. He appeared in the movies The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear (1991) and Unforgiven (1992).

Mr. James retired in the Nineties and moved to the Boston area where he pursued his career as an abstract painter. In 1994 he published the book Language of the Heart, a collection of artwork and poems. In 2014 he published his memoirs, Acting My Face.

Anthony James is well known for playing a long line of sleazy, often outright evil characters. He was the racist cook Ralph in In the Heat of the Night. He was the outlaw Cole Carlin in High Plains Drifter. In Blue Thunder he played one of the worst of the bad guys, Grundelius. Although it might have seemed that way, not every character played by Anthony James was necessarily a villain. While Elbert Moses on Gunsmoke was not particularly honest, he was not particularly evil either, a much more humorous character than most played by Mr. James. Anthony James was a very talented actor who gave several great performances.

1 comment:

Caftan Woman said...

Whenever we see the versatile actor my husband first goes to In the Heat of the Night, and mention Elbert Moses. I don't know if that is the sort of legacy for which Anthony James hoped, but he really is a part of our lives.