Monday, July 19, 2010

Actor James Gammon Passes On

Actor James Gammon, who appeared in many movies and TV shows, passed on July 16, 2010 at the age of 70. The cause was cancer of the liver and adrenal glands.

James Gammon was born on April 20, 1940 in Newman, Illinois. With his mother and his siblings he would later move to Florida to go to college. He had a career as a television cameraman, then moved to Los Angeles where he started acting in local theatre. There he began acting in local theatre. He made his television debut as a guest star in The Wild Wild West episode "Night of the Freebooters" in 1966. For the rest of the Sixties he appeared frequently on television, in such shows as Captain Nice, Bonanza, The Invaders, Batman, Felony Squad, The Virginian, and The High Chaparral. He made his movie debut in Cool Hand Luke in 1967 and for the rest of the Sixties appeared in such movies as Journey to Shiloh (1968), The Thousand Palne Raid (1969), and A Man Called Horse (1970).

In the Seventies James Gammon frequently appeared on various television shows, including The F.B.I., Dusty's Trail, Kung Fu, The Streets of San Francisco, Barnaby Jones, Cannon, Charlie's Angels, and Lou Grant. He played the recurring role of  Zack Rosswell on The Waltons. He also appeared in several movies, including Cry for Me, Billy (1972), Zandy's Bride (1974), Macon County Line (1974), The Wild McCulloughs (1975), Bobby Jo and the Outlaw (1976), The Pom Pom Girls (1976),  Black Oak Conspiracy (1977), and Urban Cowboy (1980). In 1972 Mr. Gammon founed the MET Theatre in Los Angeles with several fellow actors. Over the years he would both act in several plays and direct several plays there.

In the Eighties James Gammon guest starred on such shows as Crime Story, The Master, Cagney & Lacey, Murder She Wrote, In the Heat of the Night, and Midnight Caller. He was a regular on the series Baghdad Cafe from 1990 to 1991 and appeared in the mini-series Streets of Laredo. He appeared in such films as Vision Quest (1985), Sylvester (1985), Silver Bullet (1985), Stacking (1987), Made in Heaven (1987), and The Milagro Beanfield War (1988),  Two of Mr. Gammon's best known roles were from the Eighties: Arnie Westrum in Silver Bullet (1985), and Cleveland Indians manager Lou Brown in Major League (1989).

In the Nineties James Gammon guest starred on The Young Riders, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, L. A. Law, and Tracey Takes On. He was a regular on both the TV series Homefront and Nash Bridges. Mr. Gammon appeared in such movies as Leaving Normal (1992), The Adventures of Huck Finn (1993), Major League II (1994), Wyatt Earp (1994), Wild Bill (1995), Point Blank (1998), and The Iron Giant (1999). He made his only appearance on Broadway in Buried Child. He was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance.

In the Naughts James Gammon guest starred on Filmore, Crossing Jordan, and Monk. He also appeared in the telefilm Jesse Stone: Sea Change. He appeared in such films as Life or Something Like It (2002), Cold Mountain (2002), Silver City (2003), Don't Come Knocking (2005), and Appaloosa (2007).

While most of the roles James Gammon played to tended to be of the grizzled type, from cowboys to Lou Brown from Major League, he actually had a good deal of range. Gammon could be the good natured, honourable, and heroic cowpoke or he could be a base villain. Indeed, many might be surprised to know that it was Mr. Gammon who provided the voice of the overbearing, fanatical Gneral Sudokoff Indeed, playwright and friend Sam Shepard said of James Gammon in a recent article in The Los Angeles Times, "The guy was a whole atmosphere unto himself, and I always tried to find a place for him. He was very versatile, and could do just about anything." Mr. Shepard could have spoken no truer words bout the great James Gammon.

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