Jack Elam, longtime Western actor, died Tuesday Oct. 21 in Ashland, Ore., of emphysema. According to his agent Morgan Paul, he was 87, although some accounts say he was 84 and reportedly lied about his age early on to get work.
Elam was a Hollywood accountant who managed the Bel Air Hotel in the 1940s before landing bit parts in several oaters. His first larger role came in 1951’s “Rawhide,” followed by parts in “High Noon,” “Rancho Notorious,” “Kiss Me Deadly” and “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.” He appeared in more than 100 feature films, including “Once Upon a Time in the West,” “Support Your Local Sheriff” and “Cannonball Run.”
Often cast as a wild-eyed villain or crazed killer, partially due to an off-kilter eye, Elam appeared in many TV shows including “Gunsmoke,” “Kung Fu” and “Fantasy Island.” His last performance came in an episode of “Home Improvement.”
He is survived by his wife, Jenny, and children.